Uma história de agência digital que você nunca ouviu antes

Uma história de agência digital que você nunca ouviu antes

Uma história de agência digital que você nunca ouviu antes 1


Andrew: Olá, lutadores da liberdade. Meu nome é Andrew Warner. Sou o fundador da Mixergy, onde faço entrevistas, não apenas entrevistas. Faço o conjunto de entrevistas com empreendedores sobre como eles construíram seus negócios para um público de empreendedores que, de tempos em tempos, ficam com os ouvidos estourados, porque falo alto demais no microfone, como fiz ali mesmo. Juntar-se a mim hoje é um empreendedor que, durante anos, 10 anos, na verdade, diz que seu negócio estava em um estado sonolento, não poderia quebrar um milhão de dólares, não poderia quebrar um milhão de dólares.

Eu nem sei se eles estavam realmente aspirando a fazê-lo. E então ele ficou bom em conteúdo, bem em marketing digital, bem em se abrir e dizer às pessoas o que está acontecendo nos números e tudo o mais por trás da empresa e da empresa decolou. O nome dele é Zachary Gregg. Ele é o fundador da Vital Design. Eles são uma agência de marketing digital. Convidei-o aqui para falar sobre como os negócios deles explodiram e também quero saber francamente sobre o estágio inicial de sono deles. Porque, francamente, até ter um negócio com sono é melhor do que ter, não sei, digamos, melhor do que não ter nenhum negócio.

Zachary: Com certeza.

Andrew: Com certeza. Tudo certo. OK. Então eu vou deixar lá. Esta entrevista em que falamos sobre como ele passou de um negócio sonolento para um ótimo negócio é patrocinada por dois patrocinadores fenomenais. A primeira, quando você está ouvindo isso e ouvindo, uau, espera, design de web que ele está fazendo, e acho que tenho uma ideia para a minha. Você vai querer ir para hostgator.com/mixergy para configurar seu site. Na segunda, quando você decidir subir de nível e precisar do melhor dos melhores desenvolvedores, eu vou lhe dizer mais tarde por que você deve ir para toptal.com/mixergy. Zac, você sabe que agora vou perguntar sobre receita. Eu tenho aqui no papel, mas até que você diga publicamente, não sinto que tenho permissão para abrir. Qual é a sua receita agora?

Zachary: Sim. Então, apenas sub 10 mil. Então, nos últimos dois anos, estivemos entre 8 e 10 milhões.

Andrew: Rentável?

Zachary: Muito rentável.

Andrew: Muito, quer dizer o que? Mais de um milhão de dólares em lucros.

Zachary: Você sabe, eu venho de um mundo em que entre 10% a 20% do lucro líquido é uma boa lucratividade.

Andrew: Você sabe, nós não conversamos sobre isso antes, mas estou curioso. Tipo, como você investe seu dinheiro nesse negócio? Você está comprando imóveis? Eu vejo muitas pessoas em tecnologia comprando imóveis.

Zachary: Você está investindo de volta na empresa. Estamos investindo de volta na empresa. Eu tenho alguns parceiros na empresa. Obviamente, sou o proprietário majoritário e você sabe, este é um dos meus bebês. Eu construí outras empresas. Como você, construí outras empresas e fiz bons investimentos e alguns investimentos ruins ao longo do caminho. Eu possuo imóveis ou alguma propriedade de aluguel. Eu possuo uma incubadora / centro de trabalho conjunto com vários locais. Então, eu sempre encontro um lugar para colocá-lo.

Eu tenho um irmão que é um dos caras mais inteligentes do mundo e ele também trabalha no Goldman Sachs há anos como banqueiro de investimentos. E agora ele está administrando seu próprio estúdio de patrimônio privado e investe parte do dinheiro para mim. E você sabe, principalmente colocamos de volta. Gostaríamos muito de ver essas coisas crescerem. E você sabe, tenho ótimas pessoas para investir e uma ótima empresa para investir, e geralmente gosto de apostar em nós mesmos.

Andrew: Faça-me um favor, bata recorde no Zoom. Quero garantir uma cópia nítida do seu áudio. Você está entrando e saindo comigo. Estou fascinado com o que os empreendedores estão investindo ao lado. Acho que pode ser um tópico para uma entrevista diferente, mas quando conversei com eles em particular, estou percebendo algumas coisas realmente interessantes. Essas pessoas que, durante muito tempo, estavam falando sobre: ​​“Como eu sobrevivi? O que faço para garantir que os clientes se encaixem no mercado de produtos? ” Agora, conversando comigo como se fossem analistas do Goldman Sachs avaliando as possibilidades de mercado e usando algumas das esperanças que usam para criar empresas de software e empresas de serviços para investir o dinheiro que ganharam com isso. Vamos ver como você começou aqui. Você é um cara que começou a criar algo que é um espaço de coworking quando?

Zachary: 2000. 2001 Eu fazia parte do Tech Boom. Eu morava em San Francisco. E eu morava em San Jose. Morei em Sunnyvale durante o período de 1998 a 2001. Voltei para o leste com meu rabo entre as pernas. Começou a trabalhar para um desenvolvedor como BizDev, desenvolvendo alguns planos de negócios. E um dos planos de negócios era co. . . Não era um espaço de coworking naquela época. Era um escritório executivo, o Centro de Escritórios Virtuais da Suécia. E foi aí que tudo começou. Você sabe, encontrou um parceiro que também era uma marca. . . e eu tive que comercializar essencialmente o tipo de desenvolvedor que deixou esse plano de negócios atingir o piso da sala de corte para fazer backup. Então saiu e encontrou alguns investidores, deixou o trabalho começou o. . .

Andrew: Espere, espere, deixe-me abrandar aqui. Você decidiu criar escritórios executivos ou espaço de coworking por causa de quê? Como você descobriu isso?

Zachary: Foi simples. Quero dizer, em São Francisco e no Vale do Silício, todo mundo precisava de um endereço no início de 2000 e no final dos anos 90. Então, quando era comum lá fora, eu me reunir com essas empresas e pensar: “Eu não tinha ideia de que essa grande empresa tem um escritório aqui no Vale do Silício”. E, claro, eles não fizeram. Na verdade, eles estavam no quinto andar de um edifício alto ou alto. E eles nem perceberam. Eles estavam me encontrando na sala de conferências e era um endereço no Vale do Silício, para que sua equipe de vendas pudesse negociar. Voltou para o leste trabalhando com uma empresa de desenvolvimento. Isso era algo novo para eles. Não tínhamos certeza se a ideia funcionaria.

Andrew: Por que eles precisavam? Então eu entendo por que alguém iria querer um no Vale do Silício. Dessa forma, eles podem colocar em seu site. Temos escritórios na Alemanha e Vale do Silício, Nova York e Vale do Silício. Mas quando você diz para o leste, para onde você foi e o que eles precisam [inaudible 00:05:43].

Zachary: Estou a 45 minutos ao norte de Boston, em Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Acabamos de ter a grande primária ontem aqui. Então tem sido meio doido.

Andrew: Então as pessoas precisavam de um endereço em New Hampshire. Era isso que você estava pensando?

Zachary: Sim. Você sabe, não era apenas o endereço. Este era um parque de escritórios em particular. Foi muito bem sucedido. Fazia parte de um dos fechamentos da base. E eles renasceram nessa base em um imenso parque de escritórios. Foi muito bem sucedido. A Cabletron, que era uma empresa enorme, várias empresas públicas que se separaram. Eles estavam neste parque de escritórios, várias outras empresas estavam. Portanto, havia muitas empresas alimentadoras. Não estávamos apenas vendendo endereços. Estávamos vendendo essencialmente um espaço de escritório flexível em um local onde a flexibilidade nunca era algo que estava disponível. Portanto, os arrendamentos de longo prazo eram praticamente o espaço comercial para escritórios. Este foi um leasing flexível. Você aluga por mês.

Andrew: Para quem? Quem precisou?

Zachary: Pequenas empresas, fornecedores, pequenos escritórios de vendas por satélite, CFOs remotos.

Andrew: Entendi.

Zachary: Você sabe, a pessoa típica da suíte executiva.

Andrew: Portanto, não era o mesmo tipo de necessidade do Vale do Silício para ter um endereço personalizado. Mas ainda assim você reconheceu: “Espere, há uma ideia que está funcionando no Vale do Silício. Acho que posso trazê-lo para cá, dar às pessoas alguns escritórios de curto prazo. ” E você começou a dizer que outra pessoa tinha esse plano de negócios, mas não estava funcionando muito bem.

Zachary: Sim, eles me pagaram para escrever e, assim como eu, escrevi um plano de negócios em uma academia, que eles estavam tentando reter e aumentar clientes. Portanto, essa suíte executiva era um conceito em que as pessoas podiam entrar em pequenos espaços e depois crescer para um espaço maior e desenvolver um espaço de escritório. Eles também estavam pensando que talvez uma maneira de reter e parar de ter atrito fosse uma academia. Também escrevi um plano para um conceito essencialmente de praça de alimentação de um edifício com uma praça de alimentação. E eles adoraram as outras duas idéias.

Andrew: Porque eles possuíam o edifício?

Zachary: Eles possuíam um monte de edifícios.

Andrew: Entendi.

Zachary: Então, provavelmente, 20 edifícios.

Andrew: Então eles disseram: “Temos uma ideia do que fazer com um de nossos edifícios. Talvez façamos uma academia onde as pessoas possam pagar mês a mês. Talvez façamos escritórios onde esse cara tem alguma experiência com isso. Talvez façamos lanchonete. ” Você está escrevendo os três planos de negócios e?

Zachary: Sim. Primeiro de tudo, eu não tinha experiência em nada disso. Eu era apenas um cara de negócios e você sabe, me formar como um e eu poderia escrever pro formas muito rapidamente e inventar pesquisas e fazer a coisa. E então eu fiz o que eles me pediram para fazer. E este atingiu o chão da sala de corte. Sabe, você tinha alguns investidores formados, alguns dos meus amigos de Valley que ganharam muito dinheiro e não tiveram emprego, você sabe, durante esse tipo de, você sabe, a crise lá em 2000. E você os reuniu. Eles investiram nessa idéia comigo e nós [inaudible 00:08:27] Fora. E uma das melhores coisas era que havia 60 escritórios vazios quando eles abriram. E certamente, Vital, a senhora que originalmente concebeu o plano de marketing para ele, éramos como, vamos abrir uma agência em um desses escritórios abertos e ver se podemos vender.

Andrew: Eu sinto Muito. As pessoas que possuem imóveis vieram até você para escrever este plano de negócios. Eles não queriam fazer isso. Você disse: “Acho que poderíamos fazer isso de qualquer maneira”. E você correu com isso.

Zachary: Sim. Entendi.

Andrew: E então você acabou o que? Alugar um andar de escritório e transformá-lo nisso? Você fez?

Zachary: Exatamente.

Andrew: Entendi.

Zachary: Cerca de 24.000 pés quadrados.

Andrew: Tudo certo. E você deveria sair e preenchê-lo com inquilinos e você disse: “Bem, a propósito, eu também vou ocupar um desses escritórios para minha pequena ideia, que é uma empresa de design”.

Zachary: Absolutamente.

Andrew: OK. Por que empresa de design? Por que não manter o foco no setor imobiliário?

Zachary: Bem, o setor imobiliário é um negócio bem simples. Você tinha que alugar um imóvel e tínhamos gente boa que podia fazer esse tipo de coisa. Eu era um profissional de marketing no coração, uma espécie de cara de vendas e marketing no coração. E então, você sabe, o material de marketing foi realmente interessante para mim. Eu pensei que poderíamos expandir esse negócio. No entanto, cometi alguns erros horríveis no começo e interpretei completamente o que realmente era a oportunidade. Nós pensamos em vender.

Andrew: Como o quê? Dê-me exemplos de erros horríveis. Eu amo erros horríveis.

Zachary: Pensamos em vender cartões de visita, brochuras e estandes de marcas e feiras para um monte de pessoas pequenas que estão se mudando para esses outros 59 espaços ao meu lado.

Andrew: Eu vejo. Você está dizendo: “Olha, todas essas pessoas estão alugando de qualquer maneira, espaço para mim. Todos vão precisar desses serviços de design. Eu tenho uma base de clientes embutida. Vai ser grande. ” E na realidade o que aconteceu?

Zachary: Sim, esse não é um tipo divertido de marketing para fazer. Estamos falando de pequenas empresas que gastam muito pouco em marketing regularmente. E eles podem precisar de um cartão de visita uma vez, mas você precisará encontrar outro cara que precise de cartões de visita no próximo mês. E, você sabe, realmente não havia muito lá. Mas você sabe, não precisamos de muito. Tínhamos espaço de escritório grátis. A garota com quem eu comecei, Julia Ahumada, era designer gráfica. Eu realmente deixei o negócio meio que era o que era por um tempo e eu fazia perguntas a ela e tentava ajudá-la a construí-lo e ajudá-la a vender. Mas, basicamente, estávamos vendendo serviços de design gráfico, diferentemente de um freelancer e você sabe, um vendedor trabalhando juntos.

Andrew: E era isso que Vital era. Enquanto isso, você não cresceu, como era chamado o espaço de coworking?

Zachary: Sim. Hoje, temos 60.000 pés quadrados, onde nosso nome é oHive agora. Naquela época, era o International Office Suites. Agora temos vários locais. Temos uma tonelada de metragem quadrada. Atualmente, estamos construindo ainda mais metragens quadradas e mais locais.

Andrew: E você cresceu, quantos você tem agora?

Zachary: Temos dois locais oficiais.

Andrew: Hoje você tem dois locais oficiais.

Zachary: Sim.

Andrew: Você não tinha três ou quatro ou estou entendendo errado?

Zachary: Não. Mas passamos por várias iterações, para que você conheça o espaço, você não aceita tudo de uma vez quando está nesse tipo de espaço. Primeiro tínhamos 30 escritórios, depois outros 30 estavam ao lado. Garantimos locações onde havia potencial de crescimento e tínhamos o direito de preferência no espaço adjacente. Então nos mudamos para o centro, Portsmouth, pegamos um andar de um prédio. Você sabe, o segundo, terceiro andar estava vago na época. E estamos falando de tempos estranhos entre 2000 e 2008. Posso contar muitas histórias diferentes, mas basicamente conseguimos superar as duas coisas. Crescemos e hoje estamos posicionados para muito mais crescimento, especialmente com o desastre do WeWork.

Andrew: Ajude-me a entender. Você é um cara, como você mencionou antes, que investe em imóveis. Você tem inquilinos que pagam aluguel todos os meses pelo espaço que você possui. Isso faz muito sentido para mim. Os espaços de coworking que eu sei não funcionam assim. Eles alugam espaço e depois revendem. Por que eles não são donos dos edifícios? Por que eles não possuem as propriedades que estão revendendo? Por que não funciona como imóveis residenciais?

Zachary: Pode. Ambos os modelos funcionam. Quero dizer, em última análise, é um negócio. É sobre fluxo de caixa. Como, onde você pode obter a maior quantidade de fluxo de caixa possível? Se você pode comprar. . .

Andrew: Mas por que se trata de fluxo de caixa e não de construção de patrimônio no edifício? Só estou curioso porque vejo muito isso.

Zachary: Por que muitas empresas com sucesso desinvestem todos os seus imóveis? O setor imobiliário é um grande problema. Você normalmente não ganha dinheiro com imóveis. Você acaba precisando vender quando sua empresa está tendo problemas ou acaba com construções problemáticas. E precisar dos ativos e do capital para fazer isso, em vez de investir no seu negócio, você sabe. Agora, você sabe, anos depois, percebo que uma empresa precisa trabalhar por conta própria. Você sabe, quando você começa a misturar muitas linhas de produtos e muitas idéias díspares em um negócio, o negócio sofre e você sabe, alguém vai chutar o que você está focado.

E eu aprendi isso desde o início. Eu gostaria de ter aprendido isso desde o início. Eu continuei tocando o fogão. Sabe, eu sou um empreendedor de coração. Você sabe, eu ainda tenho mais cinco negócios até hoje, e cada um, em algum momento da minha vida, tive que descobrir se vou vender ou se você sabe, penhorar para outra pessoa que está disposta a fazer o trabalho duro, porque agora estou focado e apenas vital e vital.

Andrew: O que você está dizendo é que, se você é dono do imóvel e precisa contratar inquilinos e gerenciar esses espaços de co-localização para as pessoas. Quero dizer, não colocamos esses espaços de coworking em conjunto, são coisas demais para acompanhar.

Zachary: Ouça, se você pode comprar a instalação corretamente, se você pode comprá-lo corretamente. O que é raro. Quando a economia está crescendo, é quando você deseja comprar um novo prédio e isso é uma má hora para comprar. Se você tem dinheiro em uma economia em baixa, pode fazer uma boa compra. Os centros executivos e o espaço de coworking são empresas, assim como qualquer outra empresa, eles precisam trabalhar se você é o proprietário ou se não é o proprietário. Se você pensa: “Oh, bem, eu posso me equilibrar porque sou dono do prédio e estou construindo a equidade dessa maneira”. Você sabe, não é isso que seus parceiros estão procurando. Não é isso que seus investidores estão procurando.

Eles estão procurando por um negócio inteligente e um plano de negócios mais experiente e por alguém que gere receita independentemente. Não é o quão escalável é uma empresa em que eu tenho que comprar todos os edifícios em que estou corretamente. E você sabe, quantas empresas aprenderam esta lição? Quero dizer, você vê isso com todos os tipos de empresas que possuíam todos os imóveis, você sabe, nos quais eles construíram um negócio. E muitos deles acabam, você sabe, vendendo os imóveis e alugando as pessoas eles venderam para.

Andrew: Você mencionou que cometeu um erro ao não se concentrar. Como é o exemplo de um momento em que, como você disse anteriormente, queimou a mão no fogão quente? Existe um que é especialmente doloroso?

Zachary: Sim, quero dizer, há tantos momentos dolorosos. Eu tenho 45 anos, quando eu tinha 35 anos eu estava tendo um ataque de pânico no meu porão. Aos 35 anos, aconteceu por volta de 2009, 2010. Eu possuo cinco ou seis empresas. Eu tinha mais negócios sazonais. Eu possuía 10 empresas de aluguel que tinham vários locais. Um fora da cidade de Nova York e outro fora de Boston. Você sabe, vamos aumentar 45 pessoas no verão, demiti-las, você sabe, demiti-las no final do ano, ter livros, tudo isso trabalhando com meus negócios estáveis. Você sabe, a economia faliu.

Sabe, eu estava passando, mal pela pele dos meus dentes. E eu disse a mim mesmo: “Se eu não me livrar de algumas dessas empresas e gerenciá-las corretamente, então, você estará me expondo a todos os tipos de problemas futuros. Eu nunca vou ter tanto sucesso. ” Você sabe, administrar cinco empresas não é brincadeira. Eu sou um cara que gosta de trabalhar. Eu trabalho o máximo que posso. E você sabe, você não pode trabalhar cinco empresas em uma economia ruim. E o que acabou acontecendo é que, eu estou sentado lá tentando descobrir, você sabe: “O que eu faço com cada um?” Foi um momento maravilhoso e eu aprendi muito.

Consegui vender uma empresa a um bom preço. Eu tinha um ótimo gerente. Eu estava olhando para outra empresa do ramo imobiliário que conseguia lidar facilmente com o que eu estava fazendo. E de repente, comecei a perceber como, você sabe, “eu tenho que ser bom em uma coisa. E se eu for realmente bom em uma coisa, terei opções para vender ou cultivar essa coisa. ” E foi aí que Vital realmente entrou em foco para mim. Na verdade, tive um motim enorme na Vital naquele ano. Éramos uma empresa de oito pessoas. Reduzimos para quatro pessoas em questão de algumas semanas. Também a economia estava indo para o inferno. Meus outros negócios estavam lutando.

Andrew: Este é 2008?

Zachary: Isso é de 2008 a 2010. Tudo aconteceu particularmente na mesma época. Eu acho que tinha 35 anos.

Andrew: Por que Vital perdeu tantas pessoas?

Zachary: Bem, eu vou lhe dizer, tivemos dois grandes motins nos últimos 10 anos ou problemas. O primeiro foi no Facebook. O segundo foi em torno de Slack. Você sabe, o Facebook, deve ter sido por volta de 2010, 2011. Certamente não foi culpa do Facebook. Eu era um proprietário ausente de Vital. Conseguimos crescer de uma agência de 1 para 2 pessoas para uma agência de 10 pessoas, você sabe, em um período de 10 anos, o que foi um crescimento bastante estável, se você me perguntar. Eu estava tentando resolver problemas apenas contratando pessoas e indo embora.

E eu havia contratado uma garota que estava apenas, você sabe, não fazendo o trabalho dela e gastando muito tempo no Facebook. Eu tinha alguns caras muito bons na época. As garotas da época estavam trabalhando duro e viam essa garota que estava sendo paga mais e deveria estar fazendo um trabalho de alto nível navegando no Facebook o dia todo. E você sabe, foi simplesmente horrível. E com todas as outras coisas acontecendo, você me custa algumas folhas de demissão e eu fiquei com muito medo.

Andrew: Porque eles não gostaram da ideia de que ela estava ganhando tanto e fazendo nada além de estar no Facebook?

Zachary: Sim.

Andrew: Entendi.

Zachary: Você sabe, se eu estivesse lá todos os dias e a assistisse trabalhar, eu mesmo já tinha visto. E, você sabe, eu tive alguns outros membros importantes da nossa equipe que eram mães na época, estavam na maternidade ou voltando da maternidade.

Andrew: Entendi.

Zachary: E, no final das contas, eu não estava prestando atenção o suficiente e perdi ótimas pessoas naquele tempo.

Andrew: Qual é a resposta? Qual é a coisa que você tirou, de onde você estava antes de me dizer antes de começarmos, você estava no negócio de US $ 600.000 e US $ 800.000 por ano e subitamente ultrapassou um milhão. O que o deixou atravessar o teto de vidro?

Zachary: Era claramente esse tempo. Naquele momento, de 2010 a 2012, me livrei daquela garota. Tive quatro pessoas demitidas, uma das quais consegui voltar. Estou tão feliz que ele ainda está aqui. Ele é nosso diretor de criação. Um dos melhores caras que eu já conheci. Um dos trabalhadores mais difíceis e um garoto tão talentoso. Eles me disseram que tínhamos esquecido outro candidato que tinha sido uma mente incrível. Ele agora comanda uma de nossas pernas, que é o marketing digital para nós, Chris Getman. Chris conseguiu contratar um estrategista de SEO. Uma das coisas que estávamos fazendo antes desse tempo era que tínhamos muita utilidade em excesso.

Nós não estávamos indo tão bem. Você sabe, não precisamos ser rentáveis. Como eu disse, nós possuímos o espaço e, essencialmente, estava ajudando meus empreendimentos empreendedores. Se eu perdesse US $ 50.000 em um ano, minhas outras coisas estavam funcionando bem e isso realmente não me incomodava. Mas eu fui bastante inflexível com relação às pessoas que trabalhavam duro e realmente participei de várias estratégias de marketing de conteúdo de mídia social que eram lançadas naquela época, email marketing, listas baseadas em assinaturas, coisas assim. E Vital começou a gostar, onde quer que eu fosse, as pessoas diziam: “Ei, eu vejo sua empresa. Isso me ajuda a resolver esse problema. ” “Oh meu Deus, eu amo o conteúdo que você está criando.” “Sabe, eu vejo vocês em todos os lugares.”

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E você sabe, de repente, onde esta pequena agência em uma cidade de muitas agências e você sabe, estamos sendo vistos como a principal agência de nossa cidade, ou pelo menos uma que está no topo.

Andrew: Como alguém da empresa, alguém da Vital decidiu: “Vamos publicar um blog sobre o nosso trabalho. Vamos twittar sobre o nosso trabalho. Vamos mostrar o que estamos fazendo. ” É isso aí?

Zachary: Bem, sim. Quero dizer, até certo ponto, sim. Estávamos criando um ótimo conteúdo. Estávamos fazendo muitas perguntas aos nossos clientes. Estávamos realizando conferências com clientes, com idéias que tínhamos escrito sobre tudo e todos os processos que entendíamos bem.

Andrew: Você ainda era um proprietário ausente naquele momento, deixando a empresa funcionar por conta própria? Ou seja, quando você diz que foram eles que estavam fazendo isso?

Zachary: Não, quero dizer, eu diria que, neste momento, estou começando a dizer: “Se vou perder dinheiro ou empatar, é isso que vamos fazer, porque acredito nisso”. Alguns de nossos caras-chave acreditavam nisso na época, mas bons rapazes e meninas acreditavam nisso na época. Você sabe, o guarda da marca estava mudando. E foi uma grande oportunidade para nós. Nós vimos [inaudible 00:22:26]. Eu amei. Essa foi a parte que me revigorou. Então as pessoas começaram a nos entender como essa empresa que fazia marketing digital antes que o marketing digital fosse realmente uma coisa. E de repente, começamos a nos concentrar nisso e a contratar pessoas que eram profissionais de marketing digital e realmente entendiam essas coisas.

E eles diziam: “Ei, Zac, eu realmente quero usá-lo para a sua empresa. Vocês estão fazendo tudo certo. Você é o tipo de empresa em que queremos trabalhar “. E eu tive que olhar em volta e dizer: “Nossa, não é isso que está acontecendo lá dentro. Mas, você sabe, entre. Você sabe, se você tem o conjunto de habilidades certo e deseja aproveitar isso e me ajudar a entender a estratégia pela qual estamos passando e tentando descobrir. ” E com certeza, esses caras eram o verdadeiro negócio. E um por um, eles me ajudaram a entender o tipo de pessoas que precisávamos contratar, o tipo de conteúdo que precisamos criar, o tipo de serviços que precisamos fornecer.

Vocês falam muito sobre a adequação ao mercado do produto, mas, naquele momento, ninguém entendia como monetizar as mídias sociais e email marketing ou blog. Eles simplesmente não o fizeram, e poderíamos explicar a eles e ser consultivos e mostrar que estávamos fazendo essas coisas sozinhos. E, de repente, entre 2010 e 2012, realmente começamos a crescer. Acho que estamos no nosso sexto Inc. 5000 consecutivos hoje em dia, todos baseados no que colocamos em prática naquela época.

Andrew: Voltarei em um momento. Vou perguntar sobre o conteúdo do qual você se orgulha especialmente ou algo que você olha para trás e diz: “Essa é uma das coisas que exemplifica a reviravolta, o que descobrimos que os outros não tinham”. Mas primeiro vou contar a todos sobre um dos meus primeiros patrocinadores. É uma empresa chamada Toptal. Fiquei orgulhoso dessa história porque, ao atravessar meu escritório, estou em um Regus, que é um espaço de coworking. Eles também não possuem suas propriedades. Eu não acredito nisso.

Zachary: Não acredita que você faz parte da Regus?

Andrew: Por quê?

Zachary: Não acredito que você esteja no Regus. Bem, acho que eles estão se saindo melhor que o WeWork, mas Regus é justo, eles são o anticristo.

Andrew: Por quê?

Zachary: Bem, eles tendem a vender. . . oferecer taxas introdutórias realmente baixas e depois arrancar as pessoas. E, essencialmente, eles são apenas uma grande máquina de rotatividade. Seus gerentes individuais em locais tendem a ser muito bons e criam relacionamentos duradouros. Mas, em última análise, a empresa, você sabe, é construída com uma presença global aqui. Você tem permissão para lançar um global, bastante impressionante dessa maneira. Mas, na medida em que você sabe, construir ótimos relacionamentos na comunidade, é difícil.

Andrew: Descobri o que você disse sobre começar com um preço baixo, não sei se eles são baixos, mas eles dão um preço razoável no começo e depois aumentam o preço. Uma das coisas que fiz, negociei com eles. Mas uma das coisas que fiz quando não consegui negociar o suficiente e o preço estava subindo muito alto na Argentina foi que enviei minha esposa. E você sabe, temos sobrenomes diferentes, para procurar espaço de escritório . E ela disse: “Eu meio que gosto desse espaço. Quanto seria?” Ela conseguiu um preço. Ela pegou a papelada.

E voltei para o cara e disse: “Vou cancelar. Minha esposa conseguiu a papelada para se inscrever e eu serei a funcionária dela, estarei na conta dela pelo preço dela ou podemos simplesmente cortar a porcaria e me dar o preço que você deu a ela e me deixar ficar no meu escritório . ” Ele estava tipo, “Ok, tudo bem. Saia daqui.”

Zachary: Quero dizer, isso é horrível. Que plano de negócios, certo?

Andrew: Isto é o que eu amo sobre isso. Então isso é uma dor. O que eu mais amo é que eles são super profissionais. Tipo, eu sei que poderia contar com tudo sendo exatamente como é. Se eu precisar de fita para prender uma caixa, eles terão. Se eu precisar de carimbos em alguma coisa, poderia jogá-los em um envelope e sei que eles vão colocar o carimbo nele. Se eu precisar de espaço para uma noite de uísque, é uma boa localização aqui, na verdade. Eu realmente amo este espaço para ter uma noite de uísque por aqui. Você está sorrindo com isso, por quê?

Zachary: Eu amo isso. Quero dizer, você escuta. Você sabe, eu vendi isso por um longo tempo e a conveniência é incrível. E você sabe, não há nada errado com a Regus nesse aspecto. Eles são bons. Certamente, eles iniciaram o segmento da indústria e continuam tendo sucesso. Eles realmente compraram uma empresa chamada HQ em 2000 e ambos estavam em falência, acredito, e saíram juntos. Você sabe, eles estão durando lá. Eles certamente não fizeram o que o WeWork fez. Então, eu amo você. . . Sim.

Andrew: Uma das coisas é que, de alguma forma, os espaços de coworking independentes deveriam se reunir porque estão perdendo essa peça, que é qualquer lugar que eu vá no mundo, sei que posso encontrar internet de alta velocidade, pessoas confiáveis ​​e sente-se e trabalhe. E isso significa que, a caminho da Cidade do México, tive uma parada em algum lugar no Texas, nem me lembro onde estava. Boom, encontrei um Regus, deixei minhas coisas. Eu sabia que seria seguro. Eu sabia que teria Internet de alta velocidade para tirar vídeo do meu computador ou sempre que estiver fora dos meus dispositivos e depois explorar a cidade, voltar, buscá-la e seguir em frente. Isso não acontece com outros espaços de coworking. E é isso que está faltando. O que você acha disso? Estou observando seu rosto por isso.

Zachary: Você sabe, eles têm. Está lá fora. Eles têm associações e tentam criar redes associativas que permitem que as pessoas se mudem para dentro. Simplesmente não funciona tão bem. E você sabe, nós tendemos a estar em áreas menores. Você sabe, ouça, sou capitalista, então, se a Regus trabalha para você, vá em frente. Pague o preço e faça-o bem. Eu também sou um daqueles que diz, você sabe, “você vai encontrar esses pequenos soldados”. Você sabe o que eu odeio nos pequenos pontos privados, como o que poderia ser o nosso? É que eles tendem a ser datados e não são atualizados com frequência suficiente. Eles não têm fluxo de caixa e simplesmente não são bem-sucedidos, e você pode dizer.

De fato, essa foi uma grande parte que chamamos de oHive. Eu olhava em volta, éramos chamados de suítes de escritório, suítes de escritórios internacionais e centros de negócios iOS. E o que eu descobri é que, cerca de cinco anos atrás, se você procurar algo que diga suíte executiva ou escritório, ele será datado, vai virar as poltronas e terá tapetes sujos, é vai ter salas de conferência ruins.

Andrew: Isso é um problema, sim.

Zachary: Você sabe e, em última análise, como nem todos construímos o mesmo e as pessoas adoram essa padronização e personalização. Eu adoraria dizer para você: “Ei, onde quer que você vá, encontre o cara local, você sabe”. Mas antes de tudo, não compro local. Eu compro o melhor produto que posso comprar. Então, se você gosta da Regus, algumas áreas terão um preço melhor. Obviamente, o WeWork é muito melhor e você ganha muito mais porque eles literalmente não se importam se ganham dinheiro. Então você tem cerveja de graça, você tem toneladas de salas de conferência.

Andrew: Não sei, tentei o WeWork.

Zachary: Não, você não gostou?

Andrew: Aqui está o meu problema com o WeWork, excesso de atmosfera de festa, espaço insuficiente. Mesmo quando você tem espaço para escritório, há uma parede de vidro em pânico. O que eu quero é quieto. Eu quero espaço para fazer o que eu quiser. Para me coçar, trocar de roupa de corrida. Aqui no meu escritório, se eu precisar e não ter alguém olhando por cima do meu ombro, você sabe, e me sinto estranha por isso. Eu quero ter meu próprio espaço.

Zachary: Sete maratonas no ano passado. Incrível, incrível.

Andrew: Sim cara. Você sabe quantas vezes eu tive que me trocar no meu escritório aqui para vestir roupas de corrida e praticar?

Zachary: Ei, escute, eu disse desafie a norma, você sabe, tire suas roupas em um escritório de vidro. O pedaço de vidro que eles colocaram naquela parede custou muito mais do que o que custa chapas de pedra. Estou apenas brincando. Mas o WeWork é incrivelmente. . . Você está fazendo um acordo no WeWork. Antes de tudo, eles também te roubam. Você sabe, nenhum desses caras está envolvido em relacionamentos duradouros com empresas de pequeno e médio porte. They’re looking to accommodate huge global work forces and you know, global expansion and things like that. And you’re just essentially a speed bump to them.

I love that you love Regus. WeWork was amazing but like we cannot afford to keep up with WeWork. I mean, you know, we had a valuation that was tech type of evaluation. So, you know, funny industry, awesome to see that you’re a part of it. But I will tell you this, I’m going to segue for you. In the last year, we sell these meeting marketing retainers that are super successful to people. And that’s really, you know, one of our legs of the stools is digital marketing. Last year we had five companies come to us and say, “We don’t want to market ourselves. We want you to help us find and recruit talent because, in this day and age, talent is so hard to find.”

Andrew: You did put it back. You know what, here’s Regus connected into it. I went to get coffee from their machines and by the way, Regus now has this weird thing where they have a credit card machine on the coffee makers and I get coffee. I’m now going off into Regus. It’s kind of weird because I’ve got to hold onto this card. No one of these, I don’t even know where it is. I got to use this card to get coffee from the machine, which is kind of awkward if you have a person over.

Zachary: It’s nuts.

Andrew: But I went over to get one the other day and I happened to meet this guy, Michael because he was wearing a Toptal t-shirt. And I go, “Toptal, do work there?” He says, “No, no, I just hire from them.” I said, “How?” He says, “Well, you see all the scooter companies and all these other businesses that are now using artificial intelligence. That’s our business. All we do is solve the artificial intelligence component for businesses.” I said, “That’s interesting. So what’s your connection to Toptal?” He says, “It’s really hard to hire people who are engineers who understand artificial intelligence, who know how to apply it properly. Who are data scientists, who are analysts. É difícil. Since I tried 10 different companies to hire and none of them worked out. And then I discovered Toptal and I hired and hired and hired and hired and hired so much.” Then he said, “You tell them my name, they will know who I am.”

So I took a picture and I was sending it over to the Toptal people. If you’re out there listening to me and there’s a specialty that you need to hire for and you’ve hired and tried and tried and tried and nothing’s worked, or maybe you have and you just not like, not amazed, I want you to go and let Toptal amaze you. Don’t even hire from them. Just have a conversation with them, see if they could amaze you with how great their developers can be. Bring your most challenging hiring process your most challenging hiring . . . Oh, what’s the word? Challenge.

Go over to toptal.com/mixergy, get on a call with a matcher, they will help you think it through. And if it’s a right fit, they will help you hire the right person. And if you use my special URL, you will get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours in addition to a no-risk trial period. That is, here’s the URL, toptal.com/mixergy, T-O-P-T-A-L dot com slash M-I-X-E-R-G-Y.

Let’s talk about that thing that you’re proud of. Looking back that that’s an example of work that defined the change, defined what people are proud to be associated with.

Zachary: Our blog.

Andrew: Was there a post that’s like an indication? I’ll tell you for me, I know the one piece that stands out when I think back. I did a video of myself looking into the camera, put it up on the site saying I failed. I tried to make Mixergy into an invitation side. People are supposed to use it to invite their friends. That didn’t really work out. I’m closing that thing up. But I did like using it to organize my own events. I did like doing interviews with people who are coming to my events. I’m keeping both those things going and the fact that I was vulnerable and said, “This failed.” The fact that I took a stand and said, “I’m turning my back on the past and going towards the thing that I wanted.” Sent a whole lot of different things in motion. Like, guests knew I wasn’t coming from this point of view of being a jerk who was trying to get them.

I was trying to understand how to not fail anymore. My audience said, “Andrew is pretty open.” This is a place where I can get guests to be open. And so that’s one example of how things turned for me at Mixergy. I bet you have one when I give you that example.

Zachary: I want to go back to I don’t. I mean honestly, 10 years or 8 years of this now, we have had just in a meeting for our own marketing, we’re in our a $15,000 a month retainer of our own services. So we do our own digital marketing program. Tudo certo. And the words that we use to show up for we no longer show up for it because the words themselves have become dated and less searched for. So I can think of an article that I wrote that I used to brag about all the time because I had written like three or four articles for our blog. You know, I interviewed for hundreds.

Andrew: What was it?

Zachary: Well, let’s use the one Magento versus OpenCart.

Andrew: Okay, great.

Zachary: So awesome before versus post were versus posts, we were writing them. And it was incredible the amount of traffic we’d get for these things. That’s what people were searching but nobody really understood it. So we’d write these verses posts. Well, Magento versus OpenCart no longer really matters to anybody. Because OpenCart is basically . . .

Andrew: These are these two platforms for selling online. Got it.

Zachary: Sure.

Andrew: Now I’m understanding what you were doing that started turning things around for you. So as a result of that, you said, “This business is starting to grow, we’re starting to stand for something.” At that point, Zac, I’m curious, why did you say, “I’m going in on an agency”? Why didn’t you say what many other people say, which is, “Agencies are a pain. You have to deal with clients who are very finicky who don’t exactly know what they want but they know that they want it to be amazing and they want certain results that we can’t guarantee. I got to deal with people on the other side. I’m not selling software, I’m not selling office space, I’m selling people. People again are finicky. They have all kinds of mutinies, Facebook, lack, etc.” Why did you say, |I’m going in on this”?

Zachary: So Vital was doing well in a bad economy even though I wasn’t giving it any attention. I had other businesses that were failing in a bad economy or not failing, but certainly hurting and not growing at all. And marketing was. So it was an opportunity at a time and why was that an opportunity? Because there was a huge digital transformation. People were spending money on the web. They were trying to automate anything they could, get rid of sales forces, bring content online, bring the sales process online. So there was a lot of opportunity in between 2008 and 2012 in the marketing world. And you almost just had to be there to understand what I’m talking about but I’m sure you get it.

And by 2012, we’d put together such a good team and we were just so far ahead of so many people as far as the search and things like that using email and blogging. To me, that wasn’t a challenge. I mean, first of all, I love it when you say that stuff. You know, I am an entrepreneur and I know how easily companies . . . You know, it seems like when you live in the Silicon Valley that every company is going to be the next million-dollar, you know, billion-dollar valuation, sorry, a billion-dollar valuation. But I also hear you talk to people and they’ve worked at like 10 different companies that weren’t successful. And that’s not the business of an agency.

We either make money or we don’t. If we’re not making money, we’re out of business. And good business, when you start putting you know, $10 million on the books and you can get 10% to 20%, say maybe even up to 25% on that money, that’s real money and good money and it can’t be taken away from you. And know as long as you’re doing a good job evolving and you’re doing the things that a good agency should do and there’s so many different types of agencies out there, then I’d like to think that this is just as good of a place for your time as any, I’m not greedy. I [inaudible 00:38:10] that expectation as well.

Well, one of the things you’ll find with expectation setting is everything at Vital. We almost try to lose the sale. We tell you what a slog it’s going to be. Tell you how hard it is. We tell you how difficult it’s going to be. And if you decide with Vital, you understand what you’re about to go through.

Andrew: Okay. I’m getting then why you got in. You told our producer, “The first step once I got in was retaining the people who are great and then showing the people who we wanted to hire, like why we’re going to do the thing that they’re going to get excited about.” What about getting new customers? How did you start to bring in new customers to grow your business?

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Zachary: Well, we created products around the things that we were doing. So first step is people are saying, “Hey Zac, I’m seeing you guys everywhere. I want to be seen.” And all of a sudden that just becomes like, “What are we doing right? How do we turn it into a product, productize it, and how do we then, you know, build, selling documentation around it? And then how do we sell it in consultative, you know, create retainers that attract people’s empathy. You know, and work hard at making the product successful over time.” And we started selling retainers. We started with retainer type selling. We had these fixed projects.

At the time we only had really two legs of the stool. One was essentially building brand assets and I wouldn’t even include the website in there. Those were fixed bid projects that were oftentimes getting bigger, bigger. And then we had these retainers. You know, the big change that was happening is that SEO was becoming less about keyword stuffing and link farming and cloaking and all these, you know, things that people were doing in the, you know, pre-2012 era. And they were becoming almost completely not about metadata and not about the backend and not about the things that had so long been there.

It was about telling your story, impressing customers, telling people the questions that they were asking. And don’t tell them about yourself. Just tell them about the solutions, show them things that other people hadn’t shown. Obviously, a lot easier back then when content wasn’t king. But boy did it work? And then once we started telling people how to do that stuff, oftentimes they were then first movers and then they start referring you and they start, you know, singing your praises. Which means linking back to you and people calling you and asking you to be on podcasts, not back then as much. But you know, guest blogging and guest posting and all that stuff.

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Andrew: You know, one of the words that I wrote down, it was something you said at the beginning of this answer, which was product. It seems like you turned services into products that not only could you systemize the creation of but then the salespeople had clear material for explaining it. Can you give an example of that? I am not following that.

Zachary: Yeah. So what we break everything down to is you need foundational assets. And then, you know, what everyone comes to us for, what we found really quickly was in 2012, people rebuilding their sites for their second or third time at this point. And they weren’t really asking for a new website. They were asking for more leads and unfortunately, their infrastructure or their foundation was incapable of getting more leads the way it was currently built. They were on an antiquated CMSes. They were driving traffic all the wrong or you know, they had a bunch of old baggage. Hold on a second here, I’m getting some. They were . . .

Andrew: What was going on there? Was someone just messaging you?

Zachary: No, God. For some reason a bunch of pages from my desktop just opened. Files from my desktop open. So I was just doing something strange. So, listen, I think that . . .

Andrew: What’s an example of a product though? What’s an example of a service that you turned into a product?

Zachary: So the foundation was a product. So now what we did is we did a foundational assessment. The first thing we did with every client is we look through how we could drive more leads. We looked at how we could create a minimally viable product. We still do this to this day. So it’s super relevant. You know, and that takes looking at the website. Do you have buyer personas? Have you mapped out the buyer journey? Do you have early-stage lead generation content? Do you have things like, you know, there are other aspects to that foundation. Do you have the right tools? Are they set up correctly?

Andrew: And, Zac, you were able to sell that as a service or was that part of the selling process that you were doing this foundation analysis?

Zachary: Yeah. So we would turn that foundational assessment into essentially a list of chores that we would have to get done. And that was called your foundational project proposal. And you couldn’t do any of our lead gen retainers at all until we had a minimally viable product. Which meant, I can’t help you with your SEO in this day and age if you don’t have an email marketing platform that’s set up correctly, that you have templates in. And if you don’t have landing pages, I can drive traffic to your website, then I can’t help you drive traffic from a [inauidble00:43:41] perspective.

Andrew: So you did this analysis and then you came back and said, “You don’t have landing pages. We could create that for you. That would be one of the checklist items that we would set up for.” “You don’t have a good email marketing strategy. We’ll set you up with the software, set you up with a strategy and each one of these are projects.

Zachary: And the templates.

Andrew: Templates. Each one of these becomes a project for you to . . .

Zachary: Wouldn’t be the actual strategies. The other part that it was every deliverable was then a report and the plan and goals. So as part of the foundation, we’d fix essentially your marketing environment up to a minimally viable product. So that we had all of the channels that we would need. We had the cursory content we would need in the content areas on the websites. If you didn’t have a blog, if you only have one service page and you really had 12 services and we break it into 12. You know, just the typical foundational stuff that needed to happen.

From there we would say, you know, “Now what we’re going to do is put together a quarterly plan for you. We’re going to break it down into individual elements and we’re going to create a report based on the KPIs we’re going to talk about. We’re not going to talk about it at Google dashboard. We’re going to talk about the top-level things that we could report up to your CEO, your CFO, that’s going to allow us all to be accountable to some results.” And then, you know, we would overlay those goals into our reports. And say, “This is what we can do.” Because again, we were just experts at setting expectations to our clients and then almost fighting them, that if they had higher expectations, then they were being unrealistic.

And so that foundation allowed us to see if they were willing to take even more friction than our sales process was already creating. And they love it. They love that friction. And they love to be told that there’s bigger fundamental problems because they’ve tried the quick fix stuff. They’ve tried that, spent $2,000 on SEO and you’re going to get results and be on the first page of Google. They’ve tried that stuff by the time they’ve come to Vital. They’re ready to hear the equation and we gave it to them. So, and then from there, once they got this foundational proposal, we would then give them a retainer for both. What we now call digital marketing services which included SEO and content marketing and email marketing and drip campaigns and all that stuff.

Now we’re talking about actually writing the content, writing the drip campaigns out. Now we’re talking about using, you know, tons of software to make informed, you know, plan decisions on what we’re going to do each month based on which ones had the most impact at the lowest effort. And we’re going to get us the results the quickest. Because, of course, we had to be accountable to these goals that we had overlaid into these reports. It forces us to really look at a client and say, “Now that we’ve put you through all this friction, it’s time to get to work.” And those retainers were incredible. They include now paid portions to them as well as the digital marketing retainer in there. You know, we sell between $5,000 and $50,000 a month retainers with huge PBC riders oftentimes.

Andrew: I’m curious about how you figured out which clients to go after and how you got them. But let me take a moment and talk about my second sponsor. It’s HostGator. Let me ask you this. If I were Zac, you’re starting over and I were to give you a hosting package from HostGator, what’s a business that you would build? Start from scratch. You got no money, no background, no reputation. You just have this hosting package, you got to build a business.

Zachary: Right now you’re trying to . . .

Andrew: Could be a WordPress website or could be a different platform. What would you build?

Zachary: Oh, it would be in WordPress for sure.

Andrew: It would be in WordPress. What’s the business that you create on WordPress?

Zachary: You know, there’s a billion things I want to build but let’s say a retainer brain. Essentially something that manages retainers is something that I’m flirting with right now.

Andrew: What do you mean to manage retainers?

Zachary: You know, accounting software is just set up to deal with project billing and sometimes subscription-based billing. Retainers are unique in that there’s a relationship on the front and the backend that you need to be able to communicate really clearly.

Andrew: Meaning you’re charging per month a set price. You need to justify it and then there’s also an increase based on additional services. Am I right?

Zachary: Yeah, sure. It would definitely clearly talk about the financial relationship but it would also be a reporting tool. It would do a lot of data visualization about the success and the goals that we’ve achieved together and have set together. It would talk about how long, how many people been on your town, who’s on your account. When you’re in a relationship, you know, it’s incredible once you’ve been in a relationship with somebody for a couple of years. They get very attached to certain people and within your organization. They feel like if that person is not there, they’re not going to be successful with you. And it’s just not the reality.

Everything that we do here, it takes a huge team of people. And I would assume all like complex retainers, whether you’re at an engineering firm or whether you’re at an architecture firm or other service providers. There’s this communication that you, you kind of want to have with those retainers that go outside of my report of your SEO. And that . . .

Andrew: So you would create a software to manage retainers?

Zachary: Yes.

Andrew: But you can do that on WordPress. Can you?

Zachary: Well, the frontend, I wouldn’t do it on anything else. In fact, a lot of SaaS based businesses in Silicon Valley come to us because they realize the SaaS-based backend of the website that they’re building needs to do marketing on the frontend. And they realize that they need to detach.

Andrew: Because WordPress becomes a place where you describe what you’re doing. Describe your customer’s problems, describe how you’ve solved it for others or how other businesses like them are solving it. Got it. And then there’s a software. So maybe the first step is if you had nothing, you have no engineers, no development shops. The first step is, tell me if I’m right about this. You would go to hostgator.com/mixergy because you know me, you’d use the slash Mixergy at the end. You set up a WordPress site and you say, “Here’s the problem that I see. Here’s how other people have handled it. Start talking about the problem. Start talking to the potential customer, start building an audience on an email list. And then once you start to see a clear path for the product, go and have it developed.” Is that the path?

Zachary: I think the product is getting developed as well.

Andrew: Got it. Tudo certo. So if you’re out there and you need a website hosted for anything, even if it’s just a basic blog for your family, even if it’s a basic place to share photos, even if it’s something that’s going to be the basis of a future big business. Whatever it is, bring it to hostgator.com/mixergy, they’ll give you the lowest price possible and great service hosting. You can count on hostgator.com/mixergy. How’d you find the client that you were going to go after? I didn’t realize it, in the beginning, you were selling just $2,000 projects.

Zachary: I mean it’s been a long evolution today. We won’t touch a website that’s less than 50K. You know, we have sites that are as big as $1 million. You know, the retainers that we do are no less than $5,000. And a typical foundational period is somewhere between $20,000 and $100,000 before we get into that monthly retainer. So, how did we find them? Well, a lot of leads. So what I always tell people and all of our clients want just qualified leads. We want the qualified leads. And when I tell you if you want a lot of qualified leads, get a lot of leads. Use your content and the type of leads you’re getting to help you build better and better content over time and better and better service pages and all of that stuff.

But you know, you are looking for some certain things when you’re in sitting in my chair, which is, you know, I need to know that you’ve been spending money on marketing last year. I need to know that this isn’t just your one-off project for this year. And you have no other money to be spent. Typically what we find is that people are spending money poorly in other areas of their business. It’s hugely unmeasurable. So obviously sometimes we’re talking trade shows, we’re talking traditional advertising, billboards, things like that. When the right person comes into those companies and they’re the VP of marketing, they start asking questions and when people can’t give them measurement, they start turning towards digital marketing strategies.

When they start looking at that, they start looking for solutions out there and solution providers who really know what they’re doing. You know, they do come to Vital as often as the really crappy leads come to Vital.

Andrew: And so you’ve got blog posts, then that blog posts offer eBooks and other downloadables or other lead magnets, I guess. And then what you’re doing differently from what I’ve seen is you’re asking them for more information about themselves. How many people at the company, what’s your role at the company? You’re trying to qualify the leads as they’re giving you their contact information, right?

Zachary: Yeah. You just nailed it. I mean, that’s so insightful of you. Like, honestly, the funniest part about what we’re looking for when we divide our lists because we get over 80 leads a day. When we divide our lists, the two things that I’m segmenting are actually company size is one of the questions. But the word marketing director or VP of marketing, that tends to be there with companies that have budgets already, a marketing coordinator, CEO, you know, CFO, you know, other positions. They’re a sign that there’s no real marketing budget. Which is fine. It just means that we might not be the right fit with you.

And we’ve actually made small businesses in our town, small little agencies, we’ve made them lots of money sending, you know, the smaller clients that we get in as leads and referring them over. We take the phone call, we help them, we try to be consultative. We tell them why we charge so much and hopefully years from now they’re successful and then they come back and they appreciate what we told them. Can I jump in there?

Andrew: Yeah.

Zachary: Because I absolutely deplore when people boil down what we do in our program or what we do as blogging because it’s just become so little of what we did like 10 years ago, 7 years ago. That was totally what we did.

Andrew: So what is it now?

Zachary: Well, what’s so crazy is that blog posts don’t show up for like 90%. I would love it if you were right and blogging was still the way. Like guest blogging can be super successful for link-building and things like that. But like, blogging in general, if we were to go and open up a webpage of one of the people we might work for and one of their key service offerings or keywords that we found around those key service offerings, what we’d find is at the top of the search engine results are not going to be blog posts anymore. The first four things are going to be ads. Then sometimes there’s going to be this local search box, which is difficult to get into if you’re from a different region.

Especially if you’re not doing your reviews correctly and you don’t have your Google. You know, Google is taking over a lot of that search space, they want you to pay for it or they want you to work with their Google My Business stuff. And so now all of a sudden organic search results are getting pushed down even further. And sometimes those results, almost always now those results aren’t in a blog post. Sometimes it’s a list of infographics or JPEGs. Sometimes it’s a list of videos. Oftentimes it’s now aggregators. So are you in bed with, you know, the aggregator posts that shows the top 10 website design firms, you know, and that’s the . . .

Andrew: If that’s not it, then what is it for you guys?

Zachary: Blogging is definitely part of our strategy but there’s no one strategy. The reason I deployed is because so many people would come away from a conversation with me and they’re like, “Oh, we just got to blog more.” And that’s not it. What really needs to happen is you need to understand the words that people search for when they’re looking for you. Then you need to meticulously, you know, understand the results around those words. You’ve heard the word skyscrapering before. It’s a, you know, big Brian Dean term.

Then you need to find a way to create the page or the result that will use up what is already there. Being on page two or page three doesn’t matter with a blog post if the first page has service pages. So if we need to go look at the service page on your website and realize that like, yeah, this service page is light on content. You went through probably a phase where you wanted to take out all the words on your page and just have pictures and graphics and all of a sudden you got to put words back on that page. And then you need to think of other client empathy. How are your client reviews on that page?

Oftentimes people are putting client reviews and testimonials on their homepage before people have even jumped into a funnel. You need to put those reviews and you need to put that . . .

Andrew: Largely, it’s still content on your site.

Zachary: Absolutely.

Andrew: It may not be blog posts. So on your blog, I think I saw that you guys hired somebody, I forget what it is but I saw that you called them the latest villain to join, right?

Zachary: Yes.

Andrew: That’s the language I think I saw. But if I’m going into as you and I saw before we got started, I use Ahrefs . . . everyone. It’s called Ahrefs. Why is there an A if it’s called just Ahrefs? Anyway, they’re a partner of ours, so I’ve got access to their software and I see . . .

Zachary: Amazing software.

Andrew: The number one page that I see that you guys have according to them is how to write a marketing plan template.

Zachary: Oh man, that thing kills it for us. As well as marketing budget, as well as marketing RFP.

Andrew: I guess I would have considered that a blog post because it’s the WordPress blog posts design, right?

Zachary: Those are blog posts. Those are certainly blog posts.

Andrew: What am I missing when I look at this if it’s not a blog post?

Zachary: No. First of all, the difference between that blog post and a regular blog post is each one of those blog posts has a downloadable as part of the title. So when you actually click on that, and if you were to search it, it is not just a blog post. It’s a blog post with a questionnaire or with a download. So certainly those categories are areas where blogs are certain the top. You know, that’s where the traffic’s coming from.

Andrew: And then the downloadable is the website design RFP template and that I would need to fill in a form in order to get. And that would start a conversation with you if I’m the right fit.

Zachary: Right. Now, even if we had just wrote that article but not put the RFP template on there, that article doesn’t rank.

Andrew: It ranks because you’re collecting email addresses from the next . . . ?

Zachary: The email part is just the part that we enjoy. But the fact that somebody’s going to get a download and help them with the problem that they’re having, which is the RFP template. And now they’re going to be able to go out, their boss has tasked them with writing an RFP. I mean this was just such a stroke of brilliance, we did it like four years ago. The other players in that space are like HubSpot and some of the big software companies but we’re still ranking on the first page. And what’s great is, you know, boss tells somebody to go write an RFP for the new website template. We start building trust right away. We wouldn’t be at the top of the search engines if we hadn’t put the template because what you’ll see if you search website RFP is every single post would have a template or you know, a downloadable with it to help you with the RFPs.

Again, you know, it wasn’t just a blog post that ranked, it was a blog post with a template. Now, I know that’s a nuance but you’d find that that type of preparation before you start understanding the keywords that you want to show up for, understanding the search volume before you start it and then understanding what is actually showing up and doing better, creating better RFP templates and creating better content on the RFP blog posts. Very key.

Andrew: You know what, I am on the same page, two different tabs. One of them has that RFP downloadable thing embedded in the post. That’s the one that came in from Google. The one where I clicked over from Ahrefs just has a link over to the template somewhere else. So am I understanding right, that, first of all, you change a page based on where people are coming from. And number two, if they’re coming from Google, you don’t make them click on another page to get the downloadable. It’s on there. You’re smiling as I say this in a way that you’ve got like a wily smile as I’m talking to you.

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Zachary: You know, you’ve asked me two questions today where I wish I knew as much. I don’t have it up in front of me. I try not to break this podcast. But I honestly don’t know what all the cool things that we’re doing these days. All I know is I was a stroke of genius and that three years ago we started thinking like, “You know what, everyone wants to rank for website design. What are people asking that show that they’re going to be needing a website design in the future or that they need a new agency?”

So obviously marketing, planning, and marketing budgeting is something we do with our clients three months before the end of the year. But there are a lot of agencies out there who aren’t even having that conversation with their clients and it’s a huge opportunity for us. So now we rank very well for some marketing budget and marketing planning templates and it helps us build trust earlier in the buyer’s journey. And you know, it’s where we’ve just had some huge wins. I mean, we had a four-hour period where we got called by Visa, Welch’s, University of Illinois, and I forget who the third. I think it was Ocean Spray. You know, all four in a four-hour period.

Andrew: Because of what? Because they’re reading in the content on your site, whether we call it blog posts, a resource page or something else. Seeing that they like your approach and wanting to have a conversation with you.

Zachary: Absolutely. You know, answering the questions that people are asking and making sure you stamp on it.

Andrew: It’s still that? Like, I looked at your Instagram, it’s okay. There’s nothing great there right? Am I missing something?

Zachary: No. I mean, you know we’re a B2B company. Obviously the key . . .

Andrew: On LinkedIn you’ve got a little bit more content but you’re not setting the world on fire on LinkedIn. It’s all content on your site and email marketing, right?

Zachary: Yeah. I mean we’re distributing our content through those channels. We still take pictures of people when they’re wearing the same color clothes and you know, when it’s their birthday and all that stuff. But that stuff is just to help people understand our culture and who we are. That’s all stuff that’s driving traffic. What we want to do is drive . . . When we create great posts and create content we need to send out through those channels because a), the search engines want to see a traffic profile on all the pages. So one of the things that happened years ago is that you know, when people were keyword stuffing and burying pages on their website they just had the same keyword over and over again, [inaudible 01:03:08] text and all this stupid stuff.

Andrew: They want to see that there’s content that’s drawing people in and so social sends that. But the reason I’m asking is one of the things that you told our producer you do is, and that became critical for you was opening up new channels for your customers. What does that mean? Do you have an example? Maybe I’m just being a little too anal and saying that must mean Instagram because everyone is on Instagram now. Must mean LinkedIn because LinkedIn long-form content suddenly is a thing. What is that? What do you mean by that?

Zachary: Well, I mean ultimately customers don’t understand traffic profile. So we were just talking a little bit about it and what they’ll be good in is one or two channels. And so when you say opening up new channels, like yeah, I think maybe there’s some interpretation there that went on. I can’t remember when that conversation was, so I can’t recall it. But ultimately when clients come to us, they’re oftentimes very good at blogging. But that blog in and of itself, if it just sits there, we call it posting and praying as you know. You know, if it sits there and you don’t promote it, it doesn’t get traffic. And if you don’t send traffic to your own stuff, then Google’s not going to send traffic to it.

So essentially part of that foundational process is making sure that your channels are all there and that we have channels to use and that we can promote content and promote ideas and promote eBooks and white papers. Obviously white papers are probably like the worst things to promote, webinars are certainly better, podcasts are certainly exciting these days. So yeah, we’ve got to have channels and we’ve got to make sure that people are not just poo-pooing channels. Many people hate Facebook. The B2B companies hate to doing stuff on Facebook. But fortunately, there’s huge demographic advantages to putting stuff out on Facebook to certain demographics.

You know, it’s a platform for 40 to 80-year-old people who, you know, tend to have, you know, a lot of influence in organizations and when you know what they do, who they are and you can push messaging to them. It’s not something that a B2B company should say no to out of the box as with email. You know, people for so long shot that the thought that marketing was there to help sales. They were resistant to sending stuff out that wasn’t from their sales team or the biggest thought leader in their program using their email channels. Reality is that email opens up a huge audience to people and when you use it to send out content that answers people’s questions, you send it to your subscription base list, you’re not yourself a disservice. You’re doing yourself a huge service. You know, it’s breaking through a lot of things using these channels effectively and making sure that they’re there.

Andrew: All right. I’ve got a couple of notes here to close out. Actually the top one is what’s the Slack mutiny? And I know we’re running a little bit late. What is that?

Zachary: Slack was, you know, another time, you know, 2018 we’re killing it, you know, Inc. 5000, probably 5 years in a row at that point. You know, people opening up Slack channels to talk about everything that you could possibly you know, talk about within a company. You know, offline Slack, meeting with online Slack or at a company Slack meeting with inside Slack. And all of a sudden you know, what we’re finding is that there’s people getting up and leaving for lunch. And nobody is been talking to each other all day and people don’t understand, you know, how this is happening. There’s Slack groups, you know, left and right, and some of the stuff . . .

Andrew: Within your company, people are creating Slack groups and then causing somebody to be so frustrated that they get up from their desk and just go off and walk off. That’s what you mean?

Zachary: Nope. But what was happening is that let’s say five people would create a Slack group and then, you know, every day at lunch, those five people get up and walk out the building together and nobody knows where they’re going. And nobody has been invited. And there’s some huge amounts of exclusion. Well, sure enough you know, this stuff was happening in all sorts of segments. People were having conversations they wouldn’t have with people just like they have on social media, bullying, all the stuff. One of our developers walked behind somebody’s computer after they’d gotten up and left for lunch with four other people and they left their Slack accounts signed into.

We found all sorts of really, really inappropriate behavior. Nobody was saying stuff about me but they were saying stuff about each other.

Andrew: What type of stuff are we talking about?

Zachary: We’re talking about everything from, you know, saying awful stuff about your bosses in certain cases to . . .

Andrew: Like personal stuff about the bosses?

Zachary: Yeah and racist stuff and some incredible stuff. The type of stuff that happens when people think that nobody is watching. Obviously, Slack has now some commercial applications in which you can monitor stuff and they can’t do this stuff. But we had just, you know, opened up Slack and it was pretty unregulated. And even without the type of personal slander that was going on, we had, you know, just people who were being offended by the way people were talking on Slack to each other. You know, just like we have problems with email when somebody will say something and, you know, it seems a little bit negative or short. And you know, happens even worse in Slack.

Andrew: And so you let go people because of this?

Zachary: Yeah, well boy, when we found out what was being said, heads rolled. And other people got disciplined. People just felt so sad. They just felt so awful. It was just like, you know, you uncovered like let’s say 12 people were involved in it. And you know, four of them were saying horrible stuff and the other eight didn’t really know how to say, “Don’t say that.” They felt like they were just part of it. They just thought it was a lunch group chat, you know. And all of a sudden people are ripping on their bosses and saying inappropriate stuff about other people. And they’re saying, “Well, I wasn’t part of that but I was in the group.” And you know what the best thing was just, you know, take it down. You know, use the email. Use channels that are established and you know, we’re still working through it and there’s still need for . . .

Andrew: [inaudible 01:09:30]. Don’t say it. Don’t say via email. First of all, I think if something’s said about us, we need to be aware that sometimes people just say things without fully meaning it. It’s just in the moment they’re expressing something, they’re venting who knows why. And number two, try not to say anything. I’ve had people send me private stuff on my computer and then I do a screen share afterward and you know, that stuff pops up. And they’re sending it to me via iMessage or I don’t know what, via Skype back when I was using that, it shows up for the person they’re talking to.

Zachary: Yeah, it’s sick. And the people who we got caught like, you know, my conversation was like, you know, I love you. Like I absolutely adore you and I’m so depressed at what I saw. And they were like, “What did I say?” And then, you know, it’d be like, ah, man. I was like, “Do I need to really tell you what you said?” And then I would tell him like, “You know, that was in the moment, just like you said it.” It was like for them, it was devastating. For us, it was devastating. We lost some great people, you know, I thought they were great people. I guess they probably are great people. We see it in Facebook and politics and Instagram. People are just so mean to each other when they don’t think other people know who they are or when they feel like they can pile on. And it’s a weird world that the social media and some of these instant communications have created.

Andrew: I had an interesting experience where this guy, I used to search all guests I used to search my inbox to see anything they said to me. This guy was on, he saw that I was charging and he attacked me for charging via email before he knew who I was. It was just like he was a listener. He was a fan. He was angry at me for charging for anything and he sent me this really angry email. And I thought I’d bring it up because you know me, I like to bring up this tough stuff. And to me, I’m not hurt by it but I saw he was like those flop sweat involved in the interview. I could see that he was barely hanging on and he wouldn’t take it as me coming from a good place and just being interested and curious.

So I didn’t bring it up but I do wish that he was in a little bit better place so that I could bring it up and say, “Here’s what you said. Do you want to like reconsider it? What do you think about it?” I don’t think he meant it in a bad way. I think he was just lashing out at the world.

Zachary: Yeah, it’s crazy. I mean, it’s crazy. You should’ve have called them out on it. You call everyone else out on stuff. I love it.

Andrew: I felt bad for him. I’m telling you if I showed you the video, you see the guy can barely handle it.

Zachary: One of the things I saw the other day, which was, which is crazy and something that I’d like to always kind of tells people when I get a chance to talk is just like failure, you know, is something that we all need to learn from and making mistakes. We just need to learn. You know, I feel like my best moments are when my back are against the wall and your back gets to put it against the wall usually when you’re not having success. And these days I try to approach life like my back’s against the wall but there was a long time where success was maybe a little bit easier or it was I didn’t understand what I was looking for. And these days, you know, I try to approach every day putting one foot in front of the other kind of people and trying to, you know, act as if my back is against the wall.

Andrew: What do you mean act as if your back is against the wall? How do you create that atmosphere?

Zachary: You can spend too much time doing, you know, all sorts of nefarious things in your life or things that aren’t productive. Or things that are, you know, just not going to get you where you want to go. And sometimes it’s just easier to do things that aren’t great. Like, it’s easier to not work hard. It’s easier to not be nice. It’s easier not to write some guy a really nasty letter instead of thinking about yourself and weigh in on things that you can control. You know, I’ve never helped somebody by running up and down their backside. All I’ve done is . . .

Andrew: That’s not you acting like your back is against the wall. Do you put yourself in that type of situation? Quão?

Zachary: You know, I put like my back is against the wall every day.

Andrew: I’ll tell you one way that I do it. I took the money that I had access to and I said, just knowing that it’s there makes me feel like, “Ah, who cares? I don’t need this sale. Who cares?” I just put it away. I don’t have access to it. That changed everything. Then if I have to pay the bills, it’d have to come from somewhere. I’d go, “All right, it’s not coming from that place. So now I have to go and work.”

Zachary: Well, I think that’s where it comes from.

Andrew: What would you do? That’s not official but it’s important.

Zachary: No, I think that’s where it comes from. But like, I’ve been out of money before. I haven’t been able to make payroll before. I’ve almost lost my house. I’ve almost lost my wife. I’ve almost lost everything, you know. You know, in order to wake up every, I remember those moments. So I don’t think you need to. You know, as you get older, you start to realize like, if you don’t approach life like your back is against the wall, then your kid is not going to get into a good school. You’re not going to be able to pay for their school. You’re not going to be a good parent. You’re not going to be able to be a good husband. And so, try to just harness those moments.

Like you said, I think that’s a great one. Like, honestly, like my life when I was a kid like I always thought I’d have money. Things would be easy. I approached life like that. I never worked as hard for other people as I would work for myself. And then as I started to realize that, like, “I’d worked my ass off if it was for myself.” I started doing that. So things came easily and then all of a sudden you go through economic downturns. You can’t make payrolls. You know, you have fights that last a month with your wife instead of ones the last a night. It’s all those things. You know, you have to harness that stuff at some point in your life and get serious if you’re going to, you know, have as much responsibility as I have. I have no more responsibility.

I don’t think entrepreneurial-ism is as much about making money and selling companies and having success as is taking care of people.

Andrew: When you say you’ve harnessed those memories, it seems to me like what you’re saying is you remember, “Hey, my wife and I got into a fight that lasted for a month. This whole thing could go away. I’m going to be aware of that and put my phone away at this moment.” “I’m going to remember that I’ve had companies that closed down. I’m going to understand that Vital is really important and it could go away at any minute. I’m going to fight as if this thing could go away because it could.” That’s what you do. You just put yourself emotionally, mentally in that place where it all went away or almost did?

Zachary: Yeah. And also I see those things coming, right, when I’m like, I could go out to have a beer with my friends after work and I’m like, “You know what? I’d rather go home and get some work done.” Or you know, “I’d actually like to get some work done right now but I should be present with my kids.” Or, you know, “I could take this whole day off and let my wife take care of the kids on a Saturday. Or listen, I can get involved in driving. And I’ll listen to your podcast on the rides.

Andrew: I know.

Zachary: I’ll do the things that I can in the cracks. But I now choose to put one foot in front of the other every day in a positive way. And listen, I still make all sorts of mistakes. And as soon as I do, I try to correct and I try to harness that, exactly what you’re saying.

Andrew: All right. The website is vitaldesign.com. Is it a mistake that Vital does not have vowels in it? If I type in Vital V-I, let me see. I’m going to type in Vital, the full word, Vital Design. Let me see, does it go? No, you don’t have vitaldesign.com?

Zachary: No. I know the guy who owns it. We shot off a letter or a video like you got to that guy. He told me at one point the 300K wasn’t enough for a, what is that? A nine-letter? you know. And I told him to go get the . . .

Andrew: Yeah. And he can’t do anything with it. He can’t turn it into a design shop?

Zachary: Actually, that was the guy who owns Vital period and the vital design was another guy. Probably $20,000 would have done it but I was going to pay more than 10. The reality is put Vital into the search engine, and right underneath the dictionary meaning should be us.

Andrew: You know what, I can’t for some reason just let you say that without testing it, even though even before you said if you put in these keywords and you saw my attention went away, I tested it so that I could see if it was right. And sure enough, let me see after, no Vital source, I don’t have that. The other stuff that you said does come up. Do I have to type in Vital Design?

Zachary: Yeah. If you put it in Vital Design, we’d be there.

Andrew: Design, for sure that I noticed.

Zachary: And the reality is is that’s how people search. They’ll put in Vital Marketing, Vital Design. They are actually a bunch of agencies with the word Vital in it. We tend to outrank everyone with anything near Vital. We used to rank first for the word vital but again, some of those search engine listings have changed a lot. Now definitions . . .

Andrew: Do you know what I admire about your company? It’s like the little design touches. Like, even as I’m reading, there’s something about it and I don’t know exactly what it is. But there’s something about the font, the spacing, everything that just makes it really easy to read. There’s something about the little touches. Like, you’re sitting in front of a wall, you’re vital orange. There’s like little things that nobody would pay attention to have been thought through. And I don’t know what they are to put my finger on it, but I do feel them when I’m on the site.

Zachary: Yeah, the web design is awesome. Thanks for the feedback.

Andrew: All right, cool. Vital Design, put that into whatever search engine you use and you’ll come up with the website. I appreciate you coming on here to do this interview, Zach. Thank you.

Zachary: Yeah, it’s been awesome. Thank you. Thanks for your audience.

Andrew: Thanks for listening. Bye, everyone.



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