Joe Soltis, CEO, ChoiceLocal (Cleveland, OH)
Joe Soltis is CEO at ChoiceLocal, which Joe describes as “the top performing franchise growth engine” with a “money back guarantee.” The agency offers a wide scope of services for franchisors and franchisees of over 50 brands, enabling them to provide “Fortune 500 level customer service, results, strategy, and ROI on the franchisee level” for a “small and medium-size business price.”
Large clients might be parent companies of franchise systems, franchisors owning 20 or more franchise systems where each system may have from 20 to 200 franchisees – and up to as many as 6,000 internal franchise units. Small franchise systems may have 10 units. For these smaller clients, the agency facilitates franchise development, consumer, new customer, location, company, and digital talent recruitment marketing.
Joe says hiring is a challenge, especially in the franchise space. The agency needs to understand its client’s hiring needs, the kind of candidates it desires, and the historical hire rates to know the number of applicants to target . . . then reverse engineer the hire rate/cost per quality candidate by channel and implement the most effective marketing strategy to ensure future growth. Joe says they use the same channels as they do for consumer marketing (in a different order), plus some that are recruitment specific.
Joe notes that franchise operations need to beware . . . a lot of agencies will lock clients into proprietary technology solutions . . . that don’t fit. ChoiceLocal strives to find the right tools for each client to build a “win-win” ecosystem where franchisor, franchisee, and the agency all win. He says it’s important that the tool providers are companies sensitive to client needs, adaptable to a changing market, and willing to invest in “making sure that you can use their tool to provide the best in the world customer service to your end customers.”
Joe started his career working his way up for 10 years in a company that grew to serve Fortune 500 companies. At a time of great personal loss, he changed the direction of his life. In his words,
I always said I wanted to be successful so that I could help people, and that day it changed to “I don’t want to just build something; I want to help people and I want to do it now. I don’t want to be successful so that I can help people later. I want to do it now.”
Joe started ChoiceLocal with the mission “to help others” – the agency’s franchisor and franchisee partners, agency teammates (to make their dreams and aspirations reality), and people in the community.
Joe structured the agency with the goal of having employees work their 40-hours, then “unplug and leave work at work.” With a teammate Net Promoter Score in the 70s (far exceeding the “good” score, which is in the 30s), the agency has been a Top Workplace in Northeast Ohio for the past five years.
When Covid struck, the agency created a ChoiceLocal Economic Stimulus Package to help its customers “grow through the downturn,” an initiative that Joe estimates saved 30 franchisees from going out of business.
Giving back to the community is “baked into” the agency’s DNA, with 10% of profits dedicated to helping “kids in need.” Joe says the agency’s “big hairy audacious goal is to help 10,000 kids a year.” As of this interview, the agency had already helped 6,000 kids in 2022 through such things as meal programs, partnering with Habitat for Humanity to provide a home for an in-need family, and through team members’ personal volunteer work in the community. Joe says the next thing after achieving this goal would be to “raise the goal.”
Recently, the agency spun off a dental franchise, Broadview Dental Group, which Joe targets to be “the largest provider of dental care in the United States within 10 years.” Expectations are that dentists following this franchise system “can have 4.5 times the profit of a typical dental practice and only have to work three days a week to do it.” In this franchise system, a dentist maintains 100% of the business’s equity and, on retirement, can sell the franchise.
Joe can be reached on his agency’s website at choicelocal.com, by following ChoiceLocal on social media channels @ChoiceLocal, by following Joe on Twitter @helpothersjoe, or by connecting with him on LinkedIn.
ROB: Welcome to the Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast. I’m your host, Rob Kischuk, and I am joined today by Joe Soltis, CEO at ChoiceLocal based in Cleveland, Ohio. Welcome to the podcast, Joe.
JOE: Rob, great to be with you today.
ROB: Excellent to have you here. Why don’t you start off by telling us about ChoiceLocal? What is the firm’s specialty? What is your superpower? What are you known for? Hit us with it.
JOE: We’re the top performing franchise growth engine. We work exclusively with franchisors and franchisees, and the reason we do that is we want to give Fortune 500 level customer service, results, strategy, and ROI, but we want to be able to do it when you look on the franchisee level at a small and medium size business price while delivering that.
When we do that, we offer a money back guarantee. We’re the first and only franchise marketing agency to offer that money back guarantee. We work with 50+ brands. We’re one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S., members of the IFA, the whole nine yards.
ROB: Wow, congratulations. There’s a certain clarity to that that is certainly appreciated. Let’s peel it back just a layer. When we think about franchise, I think some of us think about restaurants, but there are franchises of all stripes. There is plumbing. There are franchise marketing agencies, for that matter. So what does a typical customer look like? Is there a particular range of franchises, of locations? Because you could have two or two thousand. What’s a typical engagement look like?
JOE: We work with some franchise systems that are owned by what we would call a platform, like a parent company that owns franchise systems. There are some franchisors that we work with that actually own 20+ franchise systems, and within each of those franchise systems there can range anywhere between 20 franchisees on the small side and 200 on the large side. So, we’re talking within these companies 2,000-unit franchise operations, and some franchise systems that we work with even have 6,000+ franchise units within them.
Also, on the other end of the spectrum, there are franchise systems that we work with that are 10-unit franchise systems. We power them on franchise development, we power them on consumer marketing and new customer marketing for their franchisees as well as their company and locations, and we also power their talent recruitment through digital marketing to drive highly qualified applicants. Staffing is obviously a huge challenge in today’s world, and particularly within the franchising space.
ROB: That’s a little bit of a wider scope of services than I think we often hear in local marketing, especially once you get into the recruitment side. So that’s interesting. Is it the same channels for getting customers in and getting employees in? Is it different? What’s the mix of touchpoints there?
JOE: It is the same channels, used in a different order, plus there are additional channels that are recruiting specific. Obviously, there’s different job boards that are highly important in the recruiting space, and then there’s also a whole host of digital channels that can be activated, from geotargeted Google Ads to Facebook advertising. Each of them has their strengths and their weaknesses.
Our job within these franchise systems is to understand what their hiring needs are, who they’re looking to hire, what their historical hire rates are so we know how many applicants we need to drive, and then we can also reverse engineer the hire rate by channel, and then we can from there figure out their cost per quality applicant by channel and then develop a marketing mix that’s going to allow them to continue to grow.
ROB: There’s a lot going on there. Over time we’ve seen different platforms that have tried to jump to the forefront to help, I think, organizations like ChoiceLocal, handle marketing for multilocation, for franchises. What’s the state of the tool ecosystem for this? Has any tool that tries to help with this problem and actually create a library of content to push out to different locations worked? Or has it not worked and you end up building some of those solutions yourselves? How do you look at dozens of locations, different local needs, some shared content, that sort of thing?
JOE: There are a lot of agencies that will come in and sell franchise systems, their own proprietary tech in order to bring that about. What we’ve generally found is when these marketing agencies bring in their proprietary tech, it’s more in the agency’s interest and less in the interest of the franchisor and the franchisee. Essentially, it’s “Here, take this marketing solution. Take our proprietary tech, and then it’s impossible for you to leave us.” That’s how they set that up, and it can create some difficulty and a lot of angst within these different franchise systems.
When working in the franchising space, what you need to do is build a win-win ecosystem where the franchisor wins, the franchisee wins, and as a byproduct of that, as the agency you win as well. There’s a whole host of various tools in this, from Rallio to WebPunch to SOCi. There’s a lot of others. Yext. These are all various powerful tools that can be used and deployed. There’s other powerful tools in the call tracking space, too. You have companies like CallRail who do a really strong job with this, with call analytics and those types of things.
The job of the agency is to find the right tools that are right for that franchise system while also using their agency buying power to leverage economies of scale and do what’s in the best interest of their client partners.
ROB: If I hear you correctly, there’s not a one-size-fits-all best franchise management tool. It is a little bit of a best of breed, it’s a what are the needs of your particular brand/set of stores, that kind of thing. Sometimes it is Yext, maybe sometimes you bring CallRail to the table. You’re the experts, and you’re prescribing the menu that you recommend.
JOE: Yeah, that is right. One thing, too, as you follow these companies – depending on how much they’re investing in R&D, how much they’re willing to listen to their customer, how much they’re willing to allow their agency partners to fuel their product roadmap and guide their product roadmap – that’s really how you’re going to pick your partners, in large part. There’s a lot of these SaaS companies that are not very customer service minded. They’re more like “Get in, sign up for a product, and then leave us alone” kind of deal, and as an agency, that’s not the kind of partner you’re looking for. You’re looking for ones that will invest in making sure that you can use their tool to provide the best in the world customer service to your end customers.
Why I say that is that’s something to look out for in the beginning. And the other reason I say that is the companies that are willing to invest in their customer service also tend to invest in their product development, and you’ll notice there’s ebbs and flows of who’s good and who’s bad when they do this. And things change, so you’ve got to find a partner that’s always looking to change and adapt with the market as it changes and evolves.
ROB: It’s interesting how the cast of characters has changed. When I google for this problem space, Hootsuite is out there, Content and Sprout are out there contending for just a small slice of that franchise deal. But you know they’re chasing every other vertical in social as well. I can certainly appreciate – we’re in Atlanta; CallRail is a neighbor company here. Do you know their roots a little bit? It’s an interesting background on them.
JOE: It’s a really neat company.
ROB: The founder started off with a site to help people with BMWs that were out of warranty to find a local repair shop. My understanding is if you have a BMW that’s out of warranty, you need a local repair shop. That’s what I’ve heard. So, he started off doing lead gen for these local shops and then built call tracking to help prove the value of his BMWershops.com website, and ended up building CallRail from it.
JOE: What’s neat about CallRail, too, is they really have come in – there’s a lot of companies that historically have played in that place, and they really trounced them. Some of their advanced features and some of their call analytics, listening to calls, transcribing calls, turning them into qualified leads, or basically saying what’s a qualified lead, what’s a hot lead, what’s not a lead, and how they built some of that technology – it’s pretty cool stuff.
ROB: Yeah, there’s a tremendous customer focus there. I do want to shift gears for a moment; I want to get to the origin story of ChoiceLocal. What led you to create this firm? What led you to this point of focus, of all the areas you could have focused on helping and niches you could have served?
JOE: I served at a company that served multibillion dollar companies. I was a Vice President of Operations of Product Development there. We served Fortune 500 companies – FedEx, CBS, other multibillion dollar publicly traded companies. That’s where I spent my day and that’s who I served. We built a team of 180 full-time digital marketers.
Kind of a neat story. Started as employee #8, within a few years worked my way up to VP of Ops and Product Development and did that. It was cool. I learned a lot and I had some really great mentors while I was there. The owners there have done some really amazing things outside of agency, just building multimillion dollar companies and multibillion dollar companies and taking some of them public, like NCS Healthcare and others.
So, I learned a ton while I was there over that 10-year period. Then in 2012, we had a pregnancy. Went into an ultrasound room with my wife and there was no heartbeat. So we lost our son, Ben, pretty late in the pregnancy. I always said I wanted to be successful so that I could help people, and that day it changed to “I don’t want to just build something; I want to help people and I want to do it now. I don’t want to be successful so that I can help people later. I want to do it now.”
That’s actually how ChoiceLocal got started. In its simple form, our mission always has been – our mission and our core values were written prior to even having a business plan – our mission is help others. We help our partners succeed, our franchisor and franchisee partners, help their dreams and aspirations become a reality.
We help our teammates’ dreams and aspirations become a reality. We’ve been a Top Workplace in Northeast Ohio five years running. We have a teammate Net Promoter Score in the 70s, which is unheard of high. You ask people, “What is a good employee Net Promoter Score?”, the answer is 30. We’re hanging out in the 70s. So, we really work to live that mission and really care about others.
Working in the agency space, a lot of agencies will bring in talent, they will work them like crazy for like five years until they burn out, and then they leave and they go in-house. Having experienced that and have friends who’ve experienced that in other companies, I wanted to do something fundamentally different. That’s why we founded ChoiceLocal and built it the way that we have.
But our mission of help others is also giving back. We take 10% of the profits out of the company and we use it to help kids in need. Our big hairy audacious goal is to help 10,000 kids a year. We created the Benjamin Isaac Foundation, named after our son, Ben. We just gave a home to a single mother with three kids. Her name is Brie; she’s got three beautiful boys. We just had their house dedication two weekends ago, and that was through Habitat for Humanity. We were the sole sponsor for the home. Got to meet her beautiful boys. We helped them move in, had the housewarming and a dedication. It was so cool. It’s just so cool.
We do tons of other stuff like that. So far this year – it’s now June, and we are at a little over 6,000 kids that we’ve helped through various charities that we partner with.
ROB: Well, 4,000 more to go and then another goal.
JOE: Yes, raise the goal.
ROB: There’s a depth in that origin story. I think something that is interesting to think through – when you have a team, when you’re giving to causes, how do you connect the day-to-day of what the team is doing to the causes that the company is giving to and really ensure that there’s an authentic connection there? I think it can be very disconnected sometimes. Here’s the owner, here’s the team, we’re building this stuff, some money got shot out over here – to a good cause, but maybe it doesn’t feel relevant to the day-to-day. So how do you think about connecting the team to the cause?
JOE: That’s a great question. It’s a really great question. The first thing is we hire for people that have the core values that we have. Family, giving, integrity in all things. There’s certain ways that you can interview people to make sure that they have those. And if you actually study some of the psychology behind it, if you study various hiring techniques that are used in books like Topgrading and WHO and those types of things, there’s ways you can interview for those core values and competencies to screen people out that don’t have that.
So, you’re hiring people that believe what you believe and then you’re coming into a culture that celebrates those core values and celebrates those things. For example, we have a team meeting every single month where we update on everything that’s happening in the agency, what’s going on with business strategy. We’re transparent on financials and performance and all of those things so everybody can see what’s going on.
We have a part where we talk about help others and core values. In core values, people nominate teammates and they celebrate how they live those core values out, and we tell those stories. A lot of those core values are how we help our partners and internally, but it’s also how we give back. And then we tie in our financial performance. We then say, “Because we were able to do this, we were able to give Brie and her three boys this gift.” We make it very personal.
Along those lines, we also have quarterly volunteering. We try to get every teammate to volunteer once a quarter so they can see, feel, and touch the work they’re doing. My personal favorite is when we go to the Boys and Girls Club of America. Those kids need love, they need support, they need good mentors, and when you go there, you feel fantastic afterwards because you’ve been able to deliver some of that for them. So that’s really powerful.
And then we also do this BHAG walkthrough. BHAG stands for big hairy audacious goal. We have this roadmap, and then we say, “Here’s three kids that were helped because of this. Here’s 1,600 kids that were fed for a year in a place of education.” We did this charity giveaway through our annual thing at the International Franchise Association called the ChoiceLocal 10k Charity Giveaway. People enter a drawing giveaway.
There’s a really cool story – there’s a woman who served as a board member of the International Franchise Association; today she owns about 20 Taco Johns franchises. Very successful businesswomen. She picked the Great Harvest Heartland as her charity, and she ended up winning. What I found out after she won is that as a kid, she was so poor that she needed to go to the foodbank to eat. So, it was a very personal gift for her.
That’s the type of stuff that really hits home, when you always tie it to that personal story. And then when you say, “Because you were able to do this specifically,” and you name the person, “it allowed us to be able to do this.”
Sorry, I’m passionate about this – the last thing I’ll add to it is helping the business owner. This particular franchisee is having a really hard time and they’re on the verge of going out of business. We had a good amount of this through COVID. We announced the ChoiceLocal Economic Stimulus Package for our customers. We have this whole “grow through the downturn” quarterly priority and theme. We saved probably 30 franchisees from going out of business during COVID, and that was really cool. We celebrated each one of those as a company during the team meetings and made a really big deal out of it, because it’s a huge deal. They put their life savings into the business. Together, we helped save their business. That’s flipping awesome. It’s really cool.
ROB: What an opportunity. I hear a certain proximity that you’re referring to within the team. Is all of your team right there, one office, one team? Is that your world, or are people in different places?
JOE: It used to be that way, pre-COVID. We were in the office three days a week, and Monday/Friday work from home. COVID hit and we went 100% remote. Then we had highest teammate Net Promoter Score ever, highest client Net Promoter Score ever, highest revenue ever by far, highest profit dollars. We’re like, this is working really well. So we surveyed our team and said, “What do you guys want to do?” and everybody said basically, work from home, come into the office once. So, we instituted that.
What we then found is about 10-15% of our staff in a given week would come into the office, and they’d come in on different days, and when they came in there was like 3% of our staff there. It felt a little lonely, and some people like that connectedness. So I just met with our leadership team on this this past week; we’re probably going to be instituting now – we do a lot of stuff on Slack. I know a lot of companies do.
Basically, we’re going to have ChoiceLocal In-Office Day. It’s going to be completely optional, but everybody that’s going to go is going to go into Slack, fill out this poll, and RSVP and say “Hey, I’m going to be in the office this day” and try to get other teammates to come in. And then they’re going to have a group of probably 30-40% of the company in on that individual day, and they can hang out together.
Plus we do all the fun stuff. We have team meets once a month. Those are in person. About half the company comes to those; the rest are virtual. We bring in catered food. We’re in Cleveland, so we’re going to watch a Cleveland Guardians, which used to be the Cleveland Indians, game.
ROB: Yeah, that’s an adjustment there as well.
JOE: Stuff like that. We do Topgolf. We do a big Christmas party every year. Stuff like that. It’s fun. It’s so fun.
ROB: It sounds like an adjustment, but it sounds like listening to the team, it sounds like adjusting well. When I think about folks I’ve known in the agency world in Cleveland, there’s no shortage of opportunity to lose your team to the revolving door of brands. That seems like it’s probably the way of life there – not to mention the regional opportunities with vendors. It really does take some work to keep them on the agency side, I think.
JOE: Historically, at my prior agency that was definitely a continual challenge. We launched ChoiceLocal with the mission of help others, with the goal – we’re not perfect at this; I don’t want to sugarcoat it – but with the goal of being a fast-paced, high energy environment, but you work 40 hours, then you unplug and you leave work at work. We were able to build our systems so that’s possible.
We historically have had almost no turnover. Now, with that said, this year during COVID, our turnover rate has spiked a bit, but it’s nothing like I was ever used to. In a year we would have maybe, out of 100 people, like 1 to 2 people leave that we didn’t want to leave. Historically. This year that number is probably up to like 4 out of 100.
ROB: Yeah, that’s turnover, but it’s not a high turnover rate. It is managing what it is. It sounds like you have learned a lot along the way. As you think about lessons you’ve learned building ChoiceLocal, are there particular things you think of that you would wish to go back and tell yourself to do differently if you were able to?
JOE: There’s a whole host of things. One of the things I have as an advantage is I was a political science major, and I learned absolutely nothing in college that is useful to me today. [laughs]
ROB: A beginner’s mindset is what you’re saying. [laughs]
JOE: Yeah, exactly. There’s this book called All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, and there’s so much truth to that. I was raised treat others the way you want to be treated, and that’s how I’ve always operated. I’ve always brought that to what I do because I thought it’s the right thing to do. But I’ve actually found it’s an amazingly sound business strategy.
What I’m going to say now may be a little bit controversial, but there’s so much stuff that you learn in business school, like when you’re getting your MBA and those types of things, and so much of that you need to throw out and ignore because it’s trash. For example, you’re a service-based business, so a person is not a commodity. A person is not a tool to be used. A person is not a KPI. They are a person with dignity, a person who has a family, a person who deserves to be cared about, loved, and appreciated. If you just do that and focus on that first, the business results tend to take care of themselves.
But at the same point, KPIs are important. Accountability is important. Ensuring that you have that is critical. Knowing that you hire right for core values first and for performance second, but also critically important – all of that integrates really well, and those are really important things.
The last thing, from a mistake that I made, that I’ll say is there’s a book called Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Else Smarter, and basically the premise of the book – and this happens for a lot of folks in agencies, particularly in leadership positions – how did you get successful? You got successful by busting your butt and being pretty smart about the way you do things. That’s how you were successful.
The weakness that comes with that is as you get a bigger team, you need to shut up, you need to ask questions, and you need to be humble. That’s the next level. And that book, for me, as I was evolving and growing as a leader, taught me those skills. It played a really important role, and now it’s something I believe in so strongly. I met with a future VP of our organization who’s probably going to get promoted to a VP very, very shortly, and I said, “Read this book. Take it to heart and do it.” Then I said, “Here’s all the stupid things that I did, and here’s how this book helped me.”
ROB: You start to pull apart some pieces, many questions come to mind. I start to think about – clearly, when you talk about future VP, there’s some planning there. There’s still some awareness of individuals in your organization, even though at 100 people, it starts to get hard to know everyone. Especially when some people aren’t even coming in one day a week, possibly. It’s an interesting mix. I think this probably had to be intentional for you as well – building up the leadership team.
What are the pieces you’ve put in place at different stages in the business to build around you to be your best, but also to help the company be its best, maybe where you aren’t?
JOE: Hire generous people, people that love helping other people be successful. If you have people on your leadership team that don’t believe that, don’t have them on your leadership team. And if you don’t believe that, work on it. [laughs] It’s so critical. You need to hire generous people, surround yourself with generous people.
It’s funny; I was like, we’re the world’s best at marketing for franchise systems, world’s best at franchise development, consumer marketing for franchising; we’re the world’s best at recruiting for franchise systems. Why don’t we just own a franchise system?
So, we launched a separate franchise system, hired a guy who led another franchise system to $750 million in network revenue to be the CEO of it. And he believes what we believe. What attracted him to us first and foremost – and he’s got an amazing track record in franchising – was our values. He’s a generous person. He believes in integrity. He believes in accountability and performance at the same time. So, you’ve got to find people that believe that and have those competencies.
The other thing I’ll say is it’s important, if you’re hiring somebody to lead a business, that they understand that business. You can do it and you can be successful if you don’t understand it inside and out, but it’s way harder. If you can find people with the right values but also who have worked at different levels in that industry over the course of their career, they can understand the strengths and weaknesses of various decisions, and when you make a decision, how it affects people in different parts of the organization or what you’re actually asking and what it entails to make it happen. Which tends to result in better decisions being made, better business performance, less mistakes. Those are the types of things that you really look for.
ROB: What franchise business have you got yourself into, then, now?
JOE: The name of it is Broadview Dental Group. Our vision is to be the largest provider of dental care in the United States within 10 years. We have some aggressive plans, but I am very confident that we’re going to be able to pull it off.
ROB: And I’ve heard that some different models of roll-up franchise operating groups – I’ve heard they’re taking the dental world kind of by storm. The independent dentist is starting to dry up a little bit. Are you seeing that? Is that part of the move?
JOE: Yes, it is, and it’s sad. What’s ended up happening – there actually is one other franchise system in the dental space. I wouldn’t call it a real franchise system. That sounds arrogant. I don’t mean it that way. But if you look at how franchise systems typically operate, where they basically have some sort of buy-in and then some sort of royalty, it’s set up very different with the buy-in being extremely, extremely, extremely high. It’s different.
But if you look at most of them, they’re called DSOs or DPOs, and what they basically do is a dentist is like “Hey, I want to get my practice to the next level.” Then these DSOs or DPOs, which are typically funded by venture capital – this isn’t always the case, but typically with venture capital, they care about one thing, which is maximizing shareholder wealth. They’ll say, “Okay, you want to take your business to the next level? Sign here. We get 70% equity in your business up to 90% over time, and we can fire you if we want to, and we’ll help get your business to the next level.”
When you’re a dentist and you’re passionate about helping others and you’re passionate about your practice and your trade, you basically just need a really good business mentor, and most dentists really haven’t had it. So what we’re doing is giving them 100% equity in their own business, a way to get to the point where they can have 4.5 times the profit of a typical dental practice and only have to work three days a week to do it, and all they need to do is follow our system. And they own 100% of their business. They can sell it when they want to, and when they sell it, they’ll sell it for a higher multiple because guess what? In franchising, when you sell your business when you’re ready to retire, it’s worth more because it’s a franchise system and it’s proven. There’s less risk involved.
ROB: Right, it’s not (Your Name) Dentistry. It is part of an umbrella. There’s brand equity there, there’s a system. They don’t have to figure it all out. One of my college roommates, his dad was in the dental world, and when you mentioned the high fee to buy in – he always told me dentists like to buy expensive things, so I guess the franchise must be one of those things, just priced for the market, I suppose.
When we look ahead to what’s next for ChoiceLocal, what’s next for marketing in the franchising world, Joe, what are you seeing? What are you excited about for the firm, for what is going to be necessary for your clients to continue as the marketing world evolves? What are you seeing?
JOE: There’s so much exciting growth ahead. One of the things that I love about being an agency that focuses on ROI and provable results is every time there’s an economic downturn, it’s good for the agency growth and it’s good for your customers. What happens is when there’s an economic recession, which I believe we’re headed into – we have horrible inflation and there’s certain policies that have to be implemented to bring it under control, and the result of that is going to be a recession.
What happens in those cases is companies tend to pull back in marketing. But if you’re driving marketing where for every dollar they spend, you’re giving them $18 in new customer revenue, it’s stupid not to spend that. You can grow through the downturn. You can take market share. Imagine putting a dollar in the stock market and getting $18 back within a year. It’s a brilliant investment. It’s a simple investment.
So, what’s going to end up happening is that’s going to accelerate growth within agencies that are ROI-focused as this economic recession hits, and for however long it hits for. That’s exciting.
But what I’m also excited about in the newer leading-edge things within agencies is the ability for big data backed with artificial intelligence to transform marketing, to transform business, and frankly to transform medicine. I was talking with the COO of ChoiceLocal, who serves a role with Broadview as well, and we’re like, who ever thought that two internet marketers would fundamentally change healthcare and dental care in the U.S.? You’d be like, “Explain that.”
It’s the same thing you do in marketing with big data. If you have a massive amount of data in a HIPAA compliant way, you can anonymize it, data mine it, and find correlations and causations and literally, with that type of patient data pool, you can change medicine. Similarly, you can do the same thing with marketing, where you can data mine, you can find ways to micro-target ideal customers based on who current ideal customers are – and you may not even know what some of those things are – and then you can target them and measure the performance and lift. That’s crazy cool stuff.
And that’s the newer leading-edge stuff that’s really exciting, particularly when you’re dealing with franchise systems and the volume that’s behind that.
ROB: Right. You’ve got volume there, you’ve got a growing scale in the business. To think about leveraging it for more than just “Hey, we’re bigger” – lots of interesting things there. Joe, when people want to find and connect with you and with ChoiceLocal, where should they go to find you?
JOE: They can go to choicelocal.com. Everything is there. They can follow ChoiceLocal on pretty much every social media channel that exists @ChoiceLocal. So they can do that. They can follow me personally on Twitter @helpothersjoe or connect with me on LinkedIn. I try to post a lot of content there that’s specific to purpose-driven business, which is a huge passion of mine, as well as franchising and marketing as well. So yeah, @helpothersjoe on Twitter is for me personally.
ROB: That’s excellent. Joe, thank you for coming on the podcast. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Congratulations on what you’ve built so far and why you’re building it. I think everyone listening has enjoyed the depth in the origin of the business and the intentionality as you build it.
JOE: Thanks, Rob. Thanks for all you’ve done and thanks for having me on today. It really is a great pleasure. Really appreciate you.
ROB: All right, appreciate you. Take care. Bye.
Thank you for listening. The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast is presented by Converge. Converge helps digital marketing agencies and brands automate their reporting so they can be more profitable, accurate, and responsive. To learn more about how Converge can automate your marketing reporting, email email@example.com, or visit us on the web at convergehq.com.