Can your Infrastructure Support 10X Sales Growth?

Anthony Sarandrea is the founder of Siteflood, a high-revenue agency offering website design, search engine optimization, paid social, paid search management, and analytics and tracking to select clients. Siteflood’s primary focus is on paid media, fast results, and a trackable ROI. 

Originally, a boutique agency with select clients paying a monthly retainer, Siteflood has added a “partnership model,” where Siteflood’s income from a client is tied directly the number of leads it generates or the client’s sales numbers. As these clients grow, the agency’s incentivization grows. This model has enabled Siteflood to scale quickly without needing to add huge numbers of staff or hundreds of clients. The agency garners a daily gross revenue in the six figures – with a staff of around 30 people. 

Does incentivization always work?

Anthony relates the story where one of two client companies, with identical, copy-pasted Google AdWords, made $3 for every $1 net margin spend and the other company claimed they had not “made a dollar of revenue” in 4 months. The difference in results had nothing to do with the generated lead flow. It came from differences in the companies’ internal sales processes, products, and how each company closed deals. Anthony emphasizes that incentivization only works when you are “aligned with the right people.” 

In this interview, Anthony recommends finding clients that work . . . and then finding more of the same kind of clients. He describes the process Siteflood uses to select “the right clients”:

  1. Does the company measure up on an in-depth “vetting process” of its processes, culture, and growth-readiness? Does this relationship look like it will be successful?
  2. Is the company at an inflection point where it is large enough to quickly scale to putting six figures a month into marketing and small enough that it can be coached to improve its internal, customer relationship, and sales processes?
  3. Does the company have the infrastructure to support a ten-fold increase in sales? 

At the beginning, Anthony did it all. He explains how growing his company was an iterative process of replacing himself. He recommends a book, The E-Myth, Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, available on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Most-Businesses-Dont-About/dp/0887303625. The book discusses the growth journey in terms of learning new skill sets. Anthony feels the key to sustainable long term growth is to invest in his people – to serve as a facilitator and cheerleader, to provide the right tools and training, to continuously invest in his employees’ wellbeing, and to set them up for success. 

Growth also requires hiring . . . the right people for the right reasons:

  • Hire quickly to replace yourself in jobs you don’t like to do. 
  • For fast results, hire people who can do things better than you can. If you cannot afford someone full time, hire part time. Anthony recommends a site called Clarity.fm https://clarity.fm/ where experts are paid by the minute.
  • Hire for jobs at which you excel, but expect that the person replacing you will only be 70% as good at it as you are. Here, Anthony explains his training process. He says a company owner absolutely has to replace him- or herself if the company is to grow.

Anthony’s interview is rich with ideas. His favorite way to be contacted is through Instagram at: @anthonysarandrea. Or google his name and reach out to him on one of his sites. He loves answering questions.

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The Podcaster Who Gets BIG THINGS Done

Espree Devora got tagged as “the Girl Who Gets it Done” when a friend observed her enthusiasm in tackling a number of business tasks for Tony Hsieh, then head of Zappos. Her passion for content creation began when she was in the 6th grade and her father gave her a video camera. She filmed hundreds of sequences featuring “extreme” sports (skateboarding, motocross) and built the first online action sports social network. In 2012, she attempted to start “We are LA Tech,” featuring local startup founders. She shot 12-episodes, but her enterprise partner refused to edit the material. Dead end.

Two years later, in September 2014, Espree resurrected “We are LA Tech” as a podcast. By October 2014, it topped Apple’s New & Noteworthy. She had learned on YouTube everything she needed to know to run a podcast. In 2015, Espree launched “Women in Tech” in response to the dire “glass ceiling” warnings so prevalent at the time. Her purpose? To “create a positive piece of content whose sole purpose is to show us what’s possible, to expand our belief system, so listeners walk away feeling, “’If she can do it, so can I.’” Much of the theme of her work is what Espree calls “vulnerable leadership.” She wants to share “how people have built their companies and their professions in ways that are really empowering, and what can we learn from them.”

For people interested in getting started in podcasting, Espree recommends the technical equipment and software that she has found to be most helpful, and talks about planning, motivational strategies, and her series of podcasting training videos. 

The first tool in Espree’s podcasting toolbag was an app to help her maintain focus on daily goals, to help her deal with her fear of “ creating this thing, and then her second fear, of creating a thing that didn’t work out.” Tools she uses today include an Audio Technica 2100 microphone and Sound Studio editing software. 

As podcasting has grown, the demand for podcasting training has likewise increased. Espree offers a series of podcasting training videos and teaches everything from large groups to intensive, private, month-long master classes. She recommends continuous outreach to maintain relationships with podcasting audiences, lists a number of tools effective for doing this, and offers tips on techniques and frequency . . . in order to be “un—annoying.” 

Espree had been scheduled as a speaker at this year’s now-cancelled South by Southwest. She has given many presentations there in the past, performed live podcasts, and led meetup groups. She credits her success to being where hard work meets luck and opportunity, a variation of the Roman philosopher Seneca’s “Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity.”

Espree can be reached on LinkedIn and all social at (Espree Devora), and on Twitter @espreedevora. Her podcasts are on: WeAreLATech.fm http://podcast.wearelatech.com/ and WomeninTech.fm http://podcast.womenintechshow.com/

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A Closet Interview with German Marketeers

Oliver and his brother started Kemweb in 1998, providing coding for other agencies and then livestreaming the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. Three years ago, frustrated with being a tech-supply company, they took their technical expertise and redefined their business as a full-service digital agency, . offering results-driven web design, online marketing, social media marketing, PR, consulting, podcasting, video production and hosting services.

Today, Kemweb’s 35 developers, art directors, social media experts, and performance team workshop with clients to discover their needs. Kemweb customers range from B2B small and medium sized companies to fast moving consumer goods suppliers. Oliver credits his agency’s success to curiosity and agility, and a change in its approach to potential customers.

A lot of companies will pitch what they can do for customers, without first finding out what the customers need, saying, “We can do this . . . and this . . . and this. What do you want?” Companies may think about “What are we offering? What kind of service?” – but fail to ask, “Why are we doing it? Why should our customers believe the things we’re doing?” 

Finding the answer to those last questions was pivotal in driving the Kemweb’s approach to its own customers. Business consulting is rare in Germany . . . and it’s one of the things that is an intrinsic part of today’s Kemweb process. Oliver suggests that you have to drive a lot deeper than the “easy questions” to discover what actions will best serve a client’s needs.

Kemweb now begins a client business relationship with a workshop/consultation utilizing Strategyzer’s Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas to map out a business’s knowledge, unsnarl its inherent complexity, and structure a customer-centric solution, with a focus on communicate the messages their clients want to communicate. 

Sean notes that there are cultural differences between businesses in Germany and those in the U.S. For instance: German business owners have greater fear of change and new ways of doing things. Legalities differ as well: Data protection laws are more stringent in the U.S. Sean explains that the linear career process in Germany also affects the way people think. After finishing a German citizens finish their education, they take an apprenticeship, then go to a company and move up the ladder within that company. 

Oliver was supposed to serve as a mentor at South by Southwest 2020 in Austin, TX, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed all that. He believes that, “This is a special period in time (that) forces people to be more courageous and to try out new things.” He feels that it is important for businesses to work together – to help the customers with their businesses and to help them survive. “We have to take care of each other . . . worldwide,” he says

Sean recommends looking at today’s challenges as an opportunity to spend more time with family or to online to learn new skills – just use your time. He is using his time in quarantine to set up an English-language Kemweb landing page.

Oliver and Sean can be reached on the social media channels or on the company’s website at: www.kemweb.de. They have a German-American podcast, Robot Spaceship, at www.robotspaceship.com,. described as an industry-leading, European podcast network with a focus on technology, culture, innovation and living the digital lifestyle. (You may need to understand a little German.)

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Purpose-driven Marketing for Social Good

Laurie Keith is Vice President of Media, Social & Emerging for the Ad Council, “where creativity and causes converge.” The Ad Council, a non-profit organization, coordinates “contributing partners” to address the most important issues in the US and globally, including social and environmental concerns and national crises. 

Laurie started her career working with big media agencies, but her heart was in her volunteer work. Joining the Ad Council in 2010 allowed her to meld her love for media strategy and planning with her passion for social good. Today, she manages the organization’s relationships with major media, tech, and entertainment companies, including large tech platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Apple, Amazon, Pinterest, Reddit, eBay, and Twitch. 

Since its start in 1942, the Ad Council has, over the years, produced many iconic messages. Two of the earliest were: “Loose lips sink ships” (a wartime reminder that divulging sensitive information could result in American deaths) and Smokey Bear, (who always seemed to be saying, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.”) Other iconic messages include: “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” Crash dummies, and the current “Love has no labels.”

In this interview, Laurie explains how the Ad Council’s partnership model works and how it has grown: 

Nonprofit and government agency “issue experts” need help to communicate critical messages to their target audiences. 

  • U.S. creative agencies (and the Ad Council’s Creators for Good team) donate time to develop creative strategy and content 
  • The Ad Council deploys this information to media volunteers
  • The media volunteers provide pro bono digital “real estate” – the platform

Today, these large media companies often contribute on creative side as well, honing material to produce platform-optimized messages.

Before the COVID-19-precipitated cancellation of the South by Southwest 2020 conference, Laurie was scheduled to moderate a panel, “Marketing in the Age of Digital Community,” exploring the power and rise of digital communities. Here, Laurie discusses the power of Reddit, a community where anonymity opens the opportunity for people to more freely talk about sensitive issues, and the potential gains (and caveats) for brands that decide to work in that space. 

Laurie talks about how the Ad Council’s current “Alone together” message, encourages social isolation to slow the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic while communicating that doing so brings people into a “group” taking action together. Alone. But not alone. Laurie says she has been thrilled with the level and depth of brand involvement in communicating COVID-19 information to various audiences.

Laurie can be reached on Twitter @lauriekeith, on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/adcouncil, and on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurie-keith-05364a3. The Ad Council offers an audio/video/print “finished content” COVID-19 information toolkit for people or organizations with outreach capabilities at: coronavirus.adcouncilkit.org

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Driving the Customer Journey through a Segmented Database

Caren Carrasco is Senior Partner at Benjamin David Group, a 4-year-old marketing consultancy that excels at digital marketing – in particular, website creation, branding, content strategy, social media, email marketing, and paid media. Benjamin David group works with a wide range of clients, from startups focused on getting their Series A, others with their first infusion of venture capital, to larger, more mature corporations like Cirque du Soleil. The objective? To help their clients get fast, profitable growth. 

Many clients are B2B. Benjamin David Group provides strategy, with a focus on figuring out how to get traction fast, and supplies the team to make it happen – either by handing off the strategic plan to the client’s team or by facilitating the hiring of an appropriate team. “It doesn’t make sense to pay a consultant to execute,” Caren says, except maybe at the very beginning when the marketing structure is not yet established. To maintain close contact, at least one member of Caren’s agency will work in-office at the client’s site.

Except COVID-19 has changed things up. Caren explains how BDG is handling the imposed transition to virtual, the continued importance of weekly contact with their clients, the impact of an established and clear cut workflow, and why detailed meeting documentation is especially critical at this time. 

Caren started her career in loyalty and email marketing, and worked in a variety of industries. At Luxury Retreats, a villa rental company headquartered in Montreal, she drove customer journeys, learned “fast and agile” marketing, and worked closely with Salesforce. Salesforce invited her and her Luxury Retreat co-worker, Benjamin, to speak at Connections 2014 on building effective client life-cycle programs, engagement strategies, and campaign automation. Realizing the depth of their knowledge, Ben and Caren decided to form a marketing consultancy, and set up their first office . . . in a local Starbucks.

(This year, Salesforce Connections 2020, originally scheduled in Chicago for May 4 through May 6, will be a virtual experience.)

In this interview, Caren introduces a powerful market targeting tool, RFM database segmentation. RFM identifies different buyer groups so that marketers can apply group-specific strategies and optimize repeat business. RFM is an acronym for recency, frequency, and monetary – where recency is how recently the buyer made a purchase; frequency is the number of times the buyer has purchased; and monetary is the dollar value of the purchase. Each category of buyer type needs to be approached in a way congruent with their buying history.

Caren admits that BDG does not provide all the services a client might need. Instead, they work with a network of trusted partners, many of them curated through networking at industry events. Over the past 4 years, the agency has actually invested in 8 of its clients, through either sweat equity or capital investment. This type of partnering is something BDG would like to further explore since a client’s success then becomes BDG’s success. 

Caren and Ben can be reached on the company website at: www.benjamin-david.com or on LinkedIn.

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It’s All About Relationships

Carlos Gil is CEO of Gil Media, a digital media company that specializes in video production, influencer marketing, social media community management, talent management, and content marketing. Carlos is a first generation Latino marketing executive, award-winning Snapchat storyteller, and author of a recent bestseller: “The End of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand in the Age of Social Media and AI,” available on Amazon. He presents bilingual keynotes at major marketing industry events.

In this interview, Carlos reviews his unconventional path to success, the importance of passion, and the long-term humanizing person to person linkage that creates business opportunities. There are no shortcuts. He believes the strength of a company is in its employees. He hopes his book will help companies future-proof their brands and their businesses for the long term.

In 2008, Carlos lost his job in the financial industry – the same day that he joined LinkedIn. A couple of days later, he started an online LinkedIn group job board, JobsDirectUSA.com., and promoted awareness through social media (which was in its infancy). He learned how to build relationships through social media and enabled thousands of mid- to senior-level career professionals to find jobs. Harvard Business Review, Inc. Magazine, Mashable, Social Media Examiner and numerous trade publications featured his work with this startup. In 2010, Fast Company recognized him as one of the Top 50 “Most Influential People Online”.

Carlos worked for a couple of grocery stores chains, developing their social media platforms, before joining LinkedIn to run social media for their Sales Solution business unit. His personal brand grew as he was repeatedly tapped to speak at marketing industry conferences. 

Carlos took one final corporate job with BMC Software because he wanted the opportunity to work with Nick Utton. Used to battling the status quo in highly-structured hierarchies, Carlos had been frustrated by bureaucratic foot-dragging when he tried to get things done. Nick taught Carlos to “Fail fast, learn from that failure, and keep moving forward to what does work.” Carlos says that it is important, wherever you are in your career, that you have a leader who really supports you.

Today? A best selling book . . . A résumé showing over a decade of experience running digital and social media marketing for enterprise brands . . . A highly-successful agency working with an amazing roster of enterprise clients . . . Worldwide speaking engagements. For a man who dropped out of high school, got his GED, and jumped into an MBA program at age 30, Carlos has far exceeded expectations. He credits getting laid off in 2008 as the springboard for what has become an amazing track record of accomplishments. In the face of Covid-19, Carlos is one more entrepreneur re-inventing himself for these challenging times.

For those who have questions, Carlos can be reached at @carlosgil83 on Twitter and on Instagram. (Just let him know you heard him on Rob’s podcast), on LinkedIn, or by email . . . at carlos@gilmedia.co. To view Carlos interviewing his mentor, Nick Utton, (9/25/2018, topic  “How to Sell to a CMO and Marketing Truths with Nick Utton.”), see this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ql733a53xa0

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Marketing Thought Leader Explores Covid-19 Impact on the Future of Marketing

Mathew Sweezey is the Director of Market Strategy for Salesforce, a company best-known for providing and supporting a cloud-based, cross-departmental customer-relationship-management solution. Salesforce has expanded its offerings to include a broad range of integrated service, marketing, sales, front end, and back end business software. Mathew is an award-winning marketer, podcast host, technology pioneer who writes about consumer behavior, media theory, and new marketing strategies. His publishing credits include AdAge, Brand Quarterly, VentureBeat, Forbes, The Observer, and The Economist. 

Twelve years ago, Mathew started a marketing technology company that provided online lead generation. This failed experiment provided him with a valuable education. He joined another startup, Pardot, and initiated its thought-leadership practice. Like a string of ever small fishes being consumed by ever bigger fishes, ExactTarget acquired Pardot and then SalesForce acquired ExactTarget, with Mathew maintaining his ever-expanding role as each-organization’s marketing thought leader – exploring the future of marketing. What he learns is communicated internally to guide company direction, externally to customers to help them “better their businesses,” and even worldwide to conference attendees in his keynote presentations.

Mathew is the author of “Marketing Automation for Dummies: (2014) and, just-released this year, “The Context Marketing Revolution: How to Motivate Buyers in the Age of Infinite Media” (Harvard Business Press). Mathew started writing this book long before the world heard of Covid-19. As companies reel from the overnight environmental changes wrought by this virus, his message is acutely “on target” . . . suddenly the whole world has had to figure out a new way to interact. In this interview, he discusses the changes marketers will need to make to meet the challenges of a “changed environment.” 

Mathew spent 5 years researching over 20,000 global consumers and over 20,000 brands and then looked at the general marketplace. He reminds us that, when we have a specific environment, we play a game that fits that environment. When the environment changes, the game, likewise, must change. 

Mathew says that today’s consumers produce the largest amount of noise (their devices are second). He believes the consumer now controls the environment, which changes marketing’s requirements dramatically. Marketing is no longer just a message . . . it is an experience. Purchases now are not just a single “click-here-and-buy decision,” but rather a process of guiding a customer along a curated journey. To “cut through the noise,” companies will need to be agile, distribute marketing functions throughout the organization, build strong relationships with their customers, master internal alignment, continue to invest in strategy, and experiment and adapt rapidly. 

From all this research, Mathew believes he has identified the key to the success of today’s high-performance marketing organizations . . . executive buy-in to this “new idea of marketing.” With the Covid-19 challenge, he would like to help people understand what we should be thinking about, how we plan a road for recovery, and how, specifically, we deliver moving forward. Context, he says, is a “significant part of what consumers are going to demand.”

The Salesforce website is:  https://www.salesforce.com/. Mathew can be reached on Twitter at: @msweezey. To schedule time to talk with him one-on-on-one, reach out to him on LinkedIn. “The Context Marketing Revolution: How to Motivate Buyers in the Age of Infinite Media,” is available on Amazon.

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Jessica Rhodes, Founder and Co-owner of Interview Connections (Rhode Island)

Jessica Rhodes is Founder and Co-owner of Interview Connections, the first and leading podcast booking agency. The beginning? Jessica started working from home as a virtual assistant, booking her father on podcasts, so he could get exposure to his target audience and amplify his brand . . . without a lot of travel. Then added companies.

While many of her clients think they would like to be on “big-name” podcasts, Jessica feels it is important for them to be strategic about where they “spend their time” and about getting on the right shows. Rather than using a “shotgun” approach, entrepreneurs will be far better served if they can get on shows where they will be addressing 500 of their best potential clients. Most of her bookings are for mid-range shows . . . with a few hundred up to a thousand super-targeted listeners.

Jessica’s co-owner, Margy Feldhuhn, started at Interview Connections as a contractor in 2016 and hired on as the first employee in 2017. A year later, on the occasion of Margy’s first annual review, Jessica made her a co-owner. The “fit” was that good. The company hit its first 7-figure year in 2019.

Jessica notes that podcasts are not an effective marketing strategy if they are intermittent. Podcast interviews need be part of long-term marketing strategy – done with consistency and momentum. Jessica recommends doing an interview a week, 4 weeks a month, year over year. 

Advantages of podcasting: 

  • Podcasts will “live” indefinitely – as long as people continue to search for what you teach.
  • Backlinks between the websites of interviewers and interviewees boost SEO rankings. 
  • Interviews increase a podcast guest’s credibility and help establish him or her as a leading expert.
  • Podcasts attract qualified leads in a way very different from other marketing strategies

Effective podcasting is not about the ego. It’s really about “relationship-building and getting in front of the right audiences.”

Jessica believes it is very important to have clear, written systems in place before you hire someone for a new position. it’s easy to train and onboard them. Interview Connections has a full-time staff of employees. Jessica believes the full-time staff is cheaper because contractors:

  • Will constantly demand more money as they gain the skills you teach them
  • Leave for another job or for vacation at will, providing no consistency for your clients
  • Take the skills you taught them to your competition. 

Podcasting is growing every year. Jessica recommends people guest on podcasts before they “start their own show,” just to figure out where your podcast fits in.

Jessica can be reached on her agency’s website at: https://interviewconnections.com/ or by texting the word “GROUP” to 38470. You will receive a link to Interview Connections’ free Facebook group, Guest Expert Profit Lab.

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Free Money: How to Pay Your Agency’s Team with Federal Stimulus Dollars

It sounds too good be be true, but there’s really no catch to using the Payroll Protection Plan Program forgivable loan program to keep your Marketing Agency team in place and pay the rent (for free).

 

Jason Blumer is an expert in the business of Marketing Agencies, Accounting, Taxes, and more, and is here to answer the key questions of how you can use the CARES act to solidify your business in the midst of Coronavirus uncertainty.

 

Additional Resources:

How to Clean Up a Bad (Digital) Reputation

Jason Ciment, is CEO of GetVisible, a consultancy and digital agency that builds websites, drives traffic to websites through search engines and social media channels, and provides digital reputation management services. 

Most of the agency’s 10 employees started their careers as professionals working in businesses other than marketing. Jason, himself, started as a CPA/real estate specialist in a big accounting firm. He went back to school to study law, worked a summer with a large clothing factory in Sri Lanka, and spent time in the NYC rag trade before he finished his law degree. What then?

Time to start a business. 

Jason launched Magmall, an ecommerce business selling magazine subscriptions, in 1997, and dug into pre-Google search engine optimization. (Early Google became one of his clients.) Over the years, GetVisible added a new skillset every couple of years: service business website development, pay-per-click ads, social media services, reputation management, LinkedIn-associated services, and email marketing. Each time the company decided to offer a new service, it hired someone who already had the needed expertise and introduced them to the organization’s philosophy and its Assessment Toolbox Methodology, a means of discovering a client’s customers and where on the digital landscape they are to be found. 

Jason admits that the company is relatively small. Leveraging limited assets is important. A big question and challenge is always: How can they stretch a dollar and produce a higher ROI with a lower cost? 

A few innovations . . .

  • GetVisible has never had a sales force. Jason feels that salespeople focus on sales; he wants to focus on client outcomes. 
  • GetVisible uses a what Jason refers to a “transparent contract,” a flat fee, six-month contract that, rather than tallying up a total of separate service, targets producing a client’s desired results and itemizes how the client’s money has been allocated. 
  • The agency implemented a simplified wireframe process to increase WordPress site development efficiency, promote intra-page symmetry, and get early client involvement and buy-in. 

Jason believes a website needs to answer 3 questions: : What is it that you do? Who do you do it for? Why are you better than anyone else?

Get Visible builds healthy online branded Google and Bing search reputations for its clients. But, what can be done when a company gets damaging listings, bad news, or bad reviews? 

There’s the clean way and the not-so-clean way of removing someone’s “bad news” from the internet. The “not clean” way is to actually try erase the bad thing that is damaging a client’s website, not an easy thing to do. The clean way? GetVisible creates a flood of “good news” content for its clients. This more current information pushes the bad news down the page. Good news won’t make “the bad stuff” disappear completely, but the bad stuff will become obsolete and irrelevant. 

Jason can be contacted on his company’s website at GetVisible.com, or through his LinkedIn profile, where those interested can sign up for his “secret newsletter.” His first book, I Need More Clients: Digital Marketing Strategies That Grow Your Business (Amazon, 2016), has straight five star reviews. 

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