Eric Shanfelt Show Transcript
Bart: [00:00:00] Eric, thanks for joining us today.
[00:00:01] Eric: [00:00:01] My pleasure to be here.
[00:00:03] Bart: [00:00:03] So you are basically a marketing guru for local businesses, and I’m interested to hear you know your story. How did you begin? Why did you become a locally focused marketing guru? Well,
[00:00:16]Eric: [00:00:16] , I won’t take you back too far, but, , you know, going into college I had to decide if I was going to go into music or I was going to go into computers.
[00:00:23] , I’m going to date myself here. I’ve been actually doing digital marketing and media for over 25 years. And, , in college I decided to go, , music cause I followed my heart instead of my head. And, , believe it or not, I actually have a master’s degree in woodwind performance with an emphasis on bassoon.
[00:00:39] So I am a classically trained the soonest, , and was the substitute for the Fort worth symphony orchestra for a couple of years. Interesting. Little, you know, yeah. How you marketable degree there, but, , an interesting. Path. So I wound up going out in, , graduate school and I got really into music technology, you know, , synthesizers, keyboards, MITIE, digital.
[00:01:04] , and that then led me into doing multimedia stuff. Way back when with things like HyperCard and macro mind director. And then I want to becoming, , going to work for, , a, a, one of the earliest digital agencies in the nation. A company called media lab out of Boulder, Colorado. So we were the biggest agency, , outside of California, New York at the time.
[00:01:25] Wow. And that’s where I kinda got my, got my feet wet in all of this.
[00:01:30] Bart: [00:01:30] Give us just a glimpse, like what a digital marketing look like in the mid to late nineties.
[00:01:35] Eric: [00:01:35] Digital marketing at that space was to one degree. We were doing things like streaming postage stamp, quick time video off of two X CD ROMs.
[00:01:44]Bart: [00:01:44] ,
[00:01:44] Eric: [00:01:44] you know, , it was, it was, it was that kind of thing.
[00:01:47] We are, we were all Mac based at the time, which was relatively new and doing things that windows computers just couldn’t do at the time. Yeah. So we were doing, , everything from presentations to multimedia based training for fortune 500 companies all over the world. So, , yeah, it was very, very interesting.
[00:02:04] , most, most people were still dial up bottom line. I wound up going to work for a media company where I published windows and T magazine and happened to be at the right place at the right time because, , all these, it professionals were on their computers all day long and they all had high speed internet connections.
[00:02:20] So in the late nineties, the industry that was leading the market when it came to digital technology, digital marketing technology, was the information technology, space, information technology publishers. They were doing all the cutting edge stuff. And we had a mobile, we had old windows CE devices. We had 10,000 paid subscribers on this.
[00:02:40] , and they couldn’t even sync wireless. They had to sync with a, a doc on their laptop, for example. So. That then moved into a company, got acquired by a larger media company, Penton media. Eventually I became the chief digital officer for Penton media and then wound up going on and becoming the senior VP or chief digital officer for three or four other companies, including a division of Harper Collins publishers.
[00:03:05] But it was at my time, so I really kind of came out of the media and publishing space magazine space. At the time though, when I was working for Penton media, then there can be called Virgo media. We published a lot of B2B trade magazines, conferences, and trade shows, so everything from restaurant hospitality magazine to HVHC contractor to spa and salon owner.
[00:03:31] To self storage today.
[00:03:33] Bart: [00:03:33] And these are printed physical copies.
[00:03:35] Eric: [00:03:35] These are printed magazines, although some of them also had, you know, we had trade shows or conferences with them. And then I as a chief digital officer, was helping them build out the digital media part of their business. Got it. Right. And so one of the things happened was with our self storage conference, we had a self storage conference and we had a.
[00:03:54] Carwash owner operator conference. They asked if I’d come out and speak on local search at one of their events, so I just died, died in, did a bunch of research on it. This was back in the days when it was still called Google places. It wasn’t even Google my business.
[00:04:09] Bart: [00:04:09] So this is in like 2007 eight and nine.
[00:04:13] Eric: [00:04:13] Yeah. , even, yeah, probably early two thousands, 2005 ish or so, I would say, , is where I first got started doing this and went out there. I taught a three hour seminar on how people could get found in local search and these business owners were just eating it up. I mean, I had a line probably 30 people long after you’d session people asking questions and I just, it was just.
[00:04:39] Became obvious. It was a big need. It was such a big need that I actually got really into this and I, I actually wrote a. 200 plus page book called, , local search optimization. It’s more than Google places, but I never wound up getting the book published because ironically enough, I went to work for a book publisher for HarperCollins before I got it published.
[00:05:00] So I wrote this whole book on it and I went to work for Harper Collins, , and kind of went down a different, slightly different path in my career for the next four to five years. Really enjoyed that. But I missed the entrepreneurial side of marketing and media, , loved my time at Harper Collins, but you know, it’s a big $3 billion company.
[00:05:19] It’s part of NewsCorp and the entrepreneurial nature of it. Wasn’t there. So I decided to leave the cushy corporate job, and about four and a half years ago, I launched local marketing Institute. As I went back and I said, you know, I want to get back into this, but I want to serve a group of people who didn’t have access to the resources that I did as part of being part of a larger corporation, and how can we go back and really help local marketers.
[00:05:48] , cut through all of the bad information, misinformation, and all of the, you know, shiny objects that are distracting them and really focus in on what are the tactics that are really going to have a positive impact. On their business, and that’s basically the Genesis of local marketing Institute.
[00:06:08] Bart: [00:06:08] Okay.
[00:06:08] So local marketing Institute, basically you had seen how big companies have the resources, the people, the special kind of skills and and functional capabilities to be able to just like make it happen on a, on a. Expert level, like from a marketing perspective or really from any functional perspective, but you had seen digital marketing at its finest.
[00:06:32] Is that fair to say? And what you wanted to do is bring that same level of capability and expertise to local. Marketing.
[00:06:41] Eric: [00:06:41] Yeah. I, I’d say that that’s, that’s fair to say. You know, , I was very fortunate to be early on in, in digital. I had some great teams, , at the companies that I worked with, with some amazing experts.
[00:06:51] But one of the things that I saw, I, I like, I have a friend of mine who owns several of the locals, local Freddy’s restaurants. In the area here in Northern Colorado. Yeah. Good friend of mine runs a very good, , local brewery here. And another friend of mine’s, the one of the dentists in the area across the street from you as someone who owns the Hawaiian restaurant downtown.
[00:07:13] And when my daughter’s best friends, her dad runs an auto repair shop and that I’ve got a. My accountant that I know and all of them didn’t know. You know, they were busy running their businesses and they didn’t know what they really needed to do successfully in a digital marketing capacity to help get new customers, drive, repeat business and grow the revenues on top of that.
[00:07:38] I began seeing all kinds of shady things. I mean, all of these wild, weird little Facebook groups, if you’ve been on Facebook at all or or, or you see all these ads that are coming out there for all of these marketing experts who you’ll watch my video and then join my program for you. No one’s offered $1,000 I’ll teach you the insider secrets to all this.
[00:08:00] And I was seeing a lot of people who were also taking advantage. Of these local business owners who just wanted to grow their business but didn’t know who was telling them the truth, who was not, who was trying to fleece them and who had, you know, legitimate services and products that could actually help them.
[00:08:19] , I mean, one in particular, I saw one ad. On on Facebook, which basically said, Hey, you, even if you have, you have no experience in digital marketing, take our course. We’ll show you how you can get thousands of dollars at a desperate business owners who don’t know any better. And that just made me angry.
[00:08:37] And so we set out to launch local marketing’s to to say, look, we are going to teach. Effective digital marketing tactics. We’re going to tap into the best local marketers in the world because no one person can know everything. We’re gonna tap to the best local marketers in the world, the best marketing, , infrastructure companies in the world.
[00:08:56] And we’re going to boil it down to the essence of what’s really gonna move the needle for these folks. And it’s going to be trustworthy and ethical. And that’s been. Really the recipe for success, practical, trustworthy, effective, and ethical.
[00:09:12] Bart: [00:09:12] So help us understand like what does local marketing Institute do for people?
[00:09:17] Eric: [00:09:17] So bottom line, you’ll, I told you I came out of a media background. I’m a publishing background. Really that’s what we are. We’re in essence, we’re, we’re a publisher. We educate publishers. Educate whether it’s through a magazine, but it’s through a conference, whether it’s through an event or through webinars, educate.
[00:09:36] That’s what we’re do. So I kind of tapped into my publishing roots and said, you know what? I want to tap into my expertise in as in a, in running media companies, and we want to launch an essence. An online magazine, if you would, for local marketers and I, I call them local marketers. Local marketing is different than, , other kinds of marketing, you know, e-commerce marketing or national brand marketing, or, you know, even a consultant would be mean, maybe marketing themselves.
[00:10:05] Nationwide or worldwide. There’s some of the things I’ve seen, but there’s different tactics. There’s different approaches to things, and there’s a different scale to those things. We really focus on the local businesses, people who do business face to face with their customers.
[00:10:20] Bart: [00:10:20] Yeah. And you do, so you do like an online s mit, right?
[00:10:24] Eric: [00:10:24] Yeah. So we have two basic products. We’ve had this farm every single week. We do an office hours webinar, we call it. And , we will bring in a marketing expert like, , you know, we’ve joy Hawkins on Google my business. We just had Tom Waddington talk about Google local search ads. We’ll talk about everything from local search to email, to web, to social media, to online advertising.
[00:10:47] Specifically for local businesses. So every week we have these, , one hour training sessions on a specific topic. Those are done live. We then archive them on our website and anybody can access it. It’s completely for free. We do ask people to register, but it’s completely free. And then once a year, we do have our big local business marketing s mit, which is an essence, a conference, but done online so that people don’t have to travel, speakers don’t have to travel.
[00:11:14] We, in essence, do like 15 sessions over two days. And again, anybody can attend it live. It is live online for those two days, but then it’s also available on demand afterwards.
[00:11:27] Bart: [00:11:27] Gotcha. And there’s local marketing Institute. Is it a for profit business?
[00:11:32] Eric: [00:11:32] Yes. It is a for profit business at this point here, just to be open the kimono completely here.
[00:11:39] It’s basically a break even business at this point.
[00:11:42] Bart: [00:11:42] At four and a half years then.
[00:11:43] Eric: [00:11:43] Yeah. It still is. Still is a break even at this point, but the main focus has been building the audience, building our reputation, building our reach.
[00:11:52] Bart: [00:11:52] Yeah.
[00:11:53] Eric: [00:11:53] This isn’t necessarily a a get rich quick kind of situation. We’re really focused on the mission.
[00:11:58] , and we’re growing at a pace that we, you know, we feel we can manage and maintain the quality ad, but as long as you follow Rand Fishkin much or not, but he had a great series of tweets just the other day about he left Maus and now he’s starting a new venture and how he’s really enjoying this new venture.
[00:12:16] He’s, he has a life. You can do things, you can enjoy his family. The business that he has there is. You know, still not profitable, but it is slowly but surely growing. And he’s so much more, enjoys that pace personally and professionally, that, you know, it’s growing. It’ll get to the point of profitability, but he’s not in a rush to get it there.
[00:12:37] And we’re taking very much the same approach with local marketing Institute. We want to do things well. We want to do it right. We want to build our reputation. , that just takes time in the trenches. And this is not a get rich quick scheme. This is something where we’re truly trying to serve, serve. , in, in industry and building longterm reputation.
[00:12:54] Bart: [00:12:54] Yeah. I think that’s fantastic. I think that more and more people are really asking that question, you know, what do they want? How are they going to build something that really fits with what they want to do in terms of creating value in the world? You know, how long is it going to take? And if it’s going to take a while, is it going to be the, the thing that they’re willing to put in that investment up front?
[00:13:14] And as you know, with built to stay, I mean, that’s kind of, you know, part of the whole point of this podcast is to think through what are you willing to invest now to really build something that’s meaningful to you, to others that creates value and lasts longer than just the transactional, you know, kind of startup that you potentially could do if you’re really just focused on the now.
[00:13:36] So I totally appreciate that.
[00:13:38] Eric: [00:13:38] I do too. And I’m, I’m actually, you know, I, I’m a non traditional entrepreneur in that I’m a, I’m 52, so I’m a little bit later in my career here. , I could be doing another job, or I could probably even making, , making a lot more money than I’m making right now. But there’s a couple of reasons why I’m doing this.
[00:13:55] One, I’ve always loved to build and to create. And so this is my opportunity to. You know, it’s my own little Lego set. It’s my opportunity to build, to create something, rip it apart, rebuilt it again. Fortunately, you know, I am at a place in my career where I was able to, to, you know, launch something like this without it being a major financial impact on, on me and my family.
[00:14:19] The other thing that I, we’ve done specifically is, you know, it is also a lifestyle play. Do take time. Like just this Friday is Chick-fil-A Friday at my girl’s school. I’m going to take a couple of hours off. I’m going to go over and have lunch with both of them at their school. You know, my, my parents live in the area.
[00:14:35] My wife’s parents live in the area. So I’m doing something that is meaningful and that I enjoy it, I feel is really helping people. That’s the n ber one drive motivation. I’m building something. It’s fun to create and develop and we’re doing it in such a way that I’m working my butt off. I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked before in my life, but I’m still able to.
[00:14:58] Take time to do things with my family. Take time off, do a vacation, you know, , I road bike, I can go out and rode by two or three times a week. Whereas before, with a corporate gig, you know, I was traveling three or four times a month. , I was gone all the time and it was just not. Where I wanted to be.
[00:15:17] Bart: [00:15:17] And I’m curious, you know, with kind of some of that flexibility, what are some of the challenges of investing in a business like this? That, you know, it’s just a break even. It’s not necessarily, you know, the quick, not that. Building businesses is ever very quick, let’s be honest, but it’s not a quick buck for you.
[00:15:36] What are some of the challenges as you build this, either from a, you know, your own personal entrepreneurial journey perspective or specific to local marketing Institute and the type of business that you’re trying to create with it?
[00:15:49] Eric: [00:15:49] Let’s speak from the business perspective then. I’ll give you a couple of personal things from the business perspective.
[00:15:55] You’re early on. I set out so you what we’re going to focus on. Local businesses, not by the way, local doesn’t mean small. I mean, it could be a small one man show or mom and pop shop or whatever. , it could be a small chain of restaurants. It could be a large national firm like U hall or, heck, even McDonald’s to a degree is a local businesses because they have all their local locations.
[00:16:18] So local doesn’t mean small. But we went after local business owners and said, these are the people that we’re gonna focus on. , and then pay. If we had some marketing agencies or other marketing professionals who were part of it, they were like the next concentric ring in our target circle. , we got in and we realize, you know, businesses look at marketing the same way.
[00:16:39] They look at accounting. , it’s something that they need to be aware of that they know they’ve got to do, but they really don’t want to do it themselves. They’d rather outsource most of it. So about two years in, we made a pivot and we said, no, actually, you know, the agency, the marketing agency, the marketing professional is going to be at the center of the bullseye.
[00:17:01] And then businesses will be the next concentric circle. That was a good move. So we, we, we then about about a year later shifted slightly. We just said, no, we’re going to, you know what we’re going to call these things are local marketers. So they could be at a marketing agency, they could be a local business who wants to either do it themselves or really wants to understand what their marketing agency should be doing for them.
[00:17:26] Or they may be a marketer on staff. Who is focused on local marketing, but the realities are they’re still trying to promote a local business through the digital medi . So that was an interesting kind of aha and shift moment as we began honing in the audiences over time. And that’s something that only came as we got into it a ways, and it was hard making a shift like that.
[00:17:51] Yeah. The other thing that we did initially is we initially started out with a paid subscription model that we were going to be charging people to, you know, people could watch these things live, but I want access to our, our library of training. They’d have to pay for it. And actually it was just about five months ago that we switched and we opened it up to where we got rid of the VIP.
[00:18:14] It’s no longer a paid model. It is in as a a free model that we have other ways that we’re pursuing the monetization on. But we already sat down and said, we met, what’s our mission? What are we trying to do? You know, we’re trying to serve local marketers. We’re trying to help them be successful. Okay? The paywall in this case was preventing us from accomplishing that mission.
[00:18:35] So. We went back to what’s going to best help us serve our mission, even admin, a short time hit to revenue. How does that help us? And since we did that, our audience has just exploded and the revenue side is catching up on the other revenues that we are back to the point where we’re almost at the same level we were before the VIP.
[00:18:55] So sort of two major shifts. We’ve kind of made the evolution of the business.
[00:18:59] Bart: [00:18:59] Yeah, those are good. I think it is difficult to figure out, especially with this kind of a, I would call it kind of a content strategy, right? You’re creating content, you’re building a business around publishing content and sharing content, and it’s not always clear what the right business model is for that.
[00:19:19] , there’s a n ber of different ways you could make revenue. You could create a premi content like you were, it sounds like you opened that up and you just blew up in terms of growth, which is fantastic. So yeah. Really interesting.
[00:19:31] Eric: [00:19:31] Yeah. So on the personal side. One of the biggest challenges that I faced was I bought into the whole, you know, Jeff Walker, Ryan dice, all these marketing gurus that were out there at Russell Branson who are all selling you a model on how to basically knock it out of the park.
[00:19:55] First thing, right? And I think that there are opportunities and there’s times that that can happen. I do think that those are the exceptions rather than the rule that in general, building a business, it takes persistence. I mean, look at Jeff Bezos and Amazon. I mean, God, how long did he work out of a little bitty desk somewhere?
[00:20:13] And then, you know, Steve jobs out of the garage, they didn’t, they weren’t instant successes. But I really got into this and I put together this business plan where I was gonna. I was going to follow these models and I was going to hit X n ber of people and X n ber of subscribers by this date, and by four or five years in, you know, we were going to be at X million dollars in revenue because by golly, these models were going to work.
[00:20:36] And I got into it and found out that, you know what? It wasn’t that straightforward, and that was disappointing. You know, I had to come to a place of reconciliation where I literally say, okay, just to knock it out of the gate anywhere near as fast as I thought it would. So am I going to drop it or do I keep going with it?
[00:20:55] Yeah. , and that was a real personal moment of reckoning. I finally decided, you know, . Look, I have a passion for this. , there’s a need for this. It may not be the overnight instant success. It may not have it’s millions of dollars, , right away. But as it moving the right direction, is it achieving the mission?
[00:21:14] Am I finding fulfillment in it? And so I had to lay down. That expectation of falling all these internet gurus who all said, well, if you do it the right way, you should be an instant success. So again, not to take away from anything cause I think those folks I mentioned for example, in others, there’s some other, they have some very good ideas and some good principles.
[00:21:36] But you’ve got to apply them to your own business and you’ve got to realize that things are going to happen. Each business is unique in its own way. It’s gonna grow at its own, at its own appropriate pace, whether you drive it or not.
[00:21:46] Bart: [00:21:46] And if you think about a lot of the, the what they’re selling is a way to do it better, faster, bigger, you know, it’s a way to grow.
[00:21:55] And all of us, every time we try to apply something like that, it’s going to be different. It’s going to be different based on what we’re trying to apply it to. It’s going to be based on our capabilities and applying it. And ultimately, a big part of what I noticed was a lot of successful entrepreneurs is that.
[00:22:12] They don’t know how long it’s going to take, how big it’s going to be, how all they know is that it’s going to take a lot of work and they’re willing to let in. Right. And they’re know they hunker down, they make it happen, and they’re willing to wait until, you know, until it does scale to the point that they want to scale it.
[00:22:29] Eric: [00:22:29] Yeah. They’re willing to put in that the, the, the, the time and effort. But that was also, I think one of the limiting factors is I’m not going to work 80 hour weeks. Had I been willing to do more, I probably could be growing at faster. Yeah. But I’m making a lifestyle decision. I want, I, I am working so that I can enjoy my life.
[00:22:51] I’m not living sort of, I can work.
[00:22:53] Bart: [00:22:53] Yes. And you brought it around too. And then you just have to decide what do you want to make it and what do you have to put into to make it into that. Part of that calculation for you is, you know, what life do I want to lead at this point in my life? It makes a, it makes a lot of sense to choose the thing that’s going to allow you to live that life.
[00:23:10] And I think what I’m hearing from you and what I love about the local marketing Institute, is that you’ve found a way to really create and share a lot of value for others, and you’ve done it in a way that allows you to live the life you want to lead. And that’s kind of the sweet spot that we’re all looking to find, right?
[00:23:28] Eric: [00:23:28] Yeah. I mean, and. I’m making a good living. I mean, am I a a billionaire? No, but I’m making a good living. I feel like the work that we’re doing is making a positive impact and helping people, and I’m able to, you know, live the life that I want to leave. So I overall, I’d say that’s a pretty good. Batting average
[00:23:52] Bart: [00:23:52] for sure.
[00:23:52] , maybe stepping a little bit into, you know, builders shoes and, and thinking from a perspective of, you know, what can I learn about local marketing? , what are some of the things that you see people do that maybe are. Mistakes concerning that local business and the way that they try to market their local business.
[00:24:13]Eric: [00:24:13] , strategically, it’s called the Pareto principle, right? The 80 20 that of all the things you could do, 80% or you know, the trivial many, only 20% are the vital few tasks. So the key thing is there are so many things you could possibly do, and I see people, you know, how do I optimize my Google, my business listing to get in the top three pack?
[00:24:36] And the keys are, if you execute on the fundamentals and do them well, you’re going to be successful. You’re going to achieve the most impact with the least amount of effort. If you execute on those those fundamentals. The other thing that I will, I’ll talk when it comes to marketing, digital marketing is, you know, I would tell people don’t even bother with digital marketing.
[00:25:00] If there’s two things. N ber one, don’t even bother with digital marketing. If you’ve got a lousy customer experience, because all the market in the world isn’t going to fix that. And frankly, marketing is a, is is a sound system. It’s a megaphone. Marketing is only going to amplify what your business already is.
[00:25:20] Look online reviews are going to be out there. People are going to rock on our, on a rapist. So if you have a lousy business, you all the Mark in the world isn’t going to solve that. Fix the business first. Make it a good business, make it so, make it something that you’re going to use a cheesy term, delights your customers.
[00:25:35] And frankly, if you do that really well, you know, then the marketing is just going to amplify that, right? Like a sound system won’t make a bad singer sound good? But it’ll make a great singer sound even better. The second thing that I always tell businesses, especially service or your businesses, is don’t even bother with marketing if you can’t even handle inbound calls.
[00:25:53] If you can’t even handle inbound calls in people who have money in hand and want to spend it with you, why are you out there trying to try to reach more people? Fix that problem first. Then focus on marketing.
[00:26:03] Bart: [00:26:03] So what kind of situations are there when people can’t handle inbound calls? What does that mean exactly?
[00:26:09] Eric: [00:26:09] I’ll use a perfect example. , from my own experience blasts fall, I wanted to do some landscaping work around our house and, , had two very reputable, , landscape companies in the area. Actually three landscape companies in the area that I, I called, one of which said they would get back to me with a, with a quote.
[00:26:29] The other one did get back to me the very next morning with a proposal. I actually reached back out to the first two companies. And didn’t get a response. So I actually wound up going with the company who gave me the proposal. They did a fantastic job. , yes, I did give them a five star review on, on Google, but did a fantastic job.
[00:26:50] And then literally about a week after work was done, one of the companies got back to me and said, Hey, here’s the proposal for the work that we talked about. And I wrote back and said, guys, you’re five weeks too late. I’m like, I’ve already hired a set of company. They’re already done. I mean, it was a $19,000 job that the company missed out on because they just didn’t bother to get back to me.
[00:27:13] Bart: [00:27:13] I’m just saying, said they had a funnel, but they weren’t there for the conversion opportunities.
[00:27:20] Eric: [00:27:20] That’s exactly it. You know, you can get, you can reach new people and get new people in, but if you’re not actually closing the sale, if you’re not responding to people or answering your phone. Another thing with a garage door, I had a couple of garage door.
[00:27:35] Companies. I was looking for a garage door repair. Three companies didn’t even bother answering the phone. One company answered the phone. We’re right. We’re on the ball. Answer my questions got right back to me. Guess who I wound up doing business with? So yeah, that’s, those are two of the more practical tactics we talk about that.
[00:27:51] Really don’t cost you anything.
[00:27:53] Bart: [00:27:53] And do you find that the businesses that aren’t answering the phone, that aren’t doing, you know, being responsive, is that because they have so much demand that they just can’t keep up with it? Or is it because of something else? Like they’re not organized, they don’t recognize that they’re missing all of these opportunities?
[00:28:10] Eric: [00:28:10] that’s a great question. , it could be either. Most of the time though, it’s usually because they’re just so busy doing something. That they can’t respond to people who are coming in. And there’s ways to get around that. I mean, everything from virtual assistance to, you know, whatever. And I guess there’s another, there’s a third reason why companies don’t need to market.
[00:28:31] Because they had so much business coming in and they don’t want to, and they may and they actually don’t want to grow any further than that. I’ve seen that happen, right? I’ve seen a, an accountant who doesn’t, who’s got a great steady stream of business but doesn’t want to grow beyond this and hire more people.
[00:28:47] We went to a restaurant in Maui a couple of years ago, and literally I talked to them to the owner. They don’t do any marketing whatsoever. They haven’t even claimed their Google my business listing, but every morning. There is a two hour wait to get in the door. All right? If you’re not going to out of the park like that, you don’t need to worry about marketing.
[00:29:07] Most businesses aren’t in that boat. Most businesses do need to have a level of marketing to let people know they’re out there, get them moved in into engaging them and turning them into customers and repeat customers. Most businesses do need that and they just need to go a little bit more better organized on.
[00:29:26] Managing the inbound work
[00:29:28] Bart: [00:29:28] and in some ways it gets back to this choice about what type of business you’re trying to build or you are building or you have built. You know, if you are trying to continue to grow and expand and make new locations, et cetera, you’re going to make sure you are, at least, you should make sure that.
[00:29:47] You’re able to close those sales at the button. Otherwise, there’s no reason to have, especially like you said, like paid marketing or paid advertising. On the other hand, if you choose, like let’s say you have one location and you know you’re as busy as you want to be and more, and you do great service and you’ve kind of just decided that that’s all you want, which is fine.
[00:30:08] I’m not saying that in a any sort of negative way. You know, there’s, you probably just don’t have to worry much about marketing and advertising.
[00:30:16] Eric: [00:30:16] You don’t that much. I mean, there’s a couple things that you might want to do. You know, I think you, you still want to have a professional feel to what you’re doing.
[00:30:24] , you’re, you still are going to, you want to watch your online reputation and manage that. , and you’re still gonna provide great customer service, right? You’re gonna want your customers to find you properly on Apple maps. Yeah. Oh, you’re, you’re going to, you know, other things that you may want to do.
[00:30:42] So the level of what you do is going to be different, but you’re absolutely right. I mean, there are businesses who are, Hey, look, we’re as big as we want to get. , you know, everybody always talks about it’s, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. I don’t buy into that philosophy. I buy into the, every company has a unique sweet spot that they’re going to grow into, and when they grow beyond that, they’re going to leave their sweet spot and or, or if they’re not there yet, they’re haven’t researched full potential.
[00:31:11] And that sweet spot is going to be different for every company and every owner.
[00:31:16] Bart: [00:31:16] Yeah. It’s interesting when you think about the difference between a local business, for example, and like a public company. The research shows that, you know, if you, if a public company stalls in growth for five consecutive years, the chances that they will continue to be a successful company go away down.
[00:31:39] So growth is kind of an, it’s, it’s imperative at that size and scale. And that’s partly just the way that our markets work, right. With stock.
[00:31:48] Eric: [00:31:48] Yeah. Cause investors want a return on their investment.
[00:31:50] Bart: [00:31:50] Yeah. The ROI of stock with local businesses usually locally owned. It’s very different and you kind of choose.
[00:31:57] And really at the end of the day, it comes down to do you continue to create, you know, an enormous amount of value for the people that, , that are your customers. And if you’re doing that, unless you’re somehow beaten out, you know, in terms of someone else starts a business, that creates even more value in it.
[00:32:15] You know, somehow there’s competition or something. Unless. That happens you, you probably are good to go and you want to maintain, like you say, there’s certain things you want to maintain in terms of your reputation. And it’s just kind of an interesting thing because it is, at the end of the day, it’s a choice.
[00:32:29] Eric: [00:32:29] I’ve worked for two publicly traded companies. I was worked for three different private equity backed companies and , and a few privately owned. Companies, and when you start getting into, , out of, out of a privately owned company, look, a private owner is going to still want to grow to whatever point that private owner wants to grow it to.
[00:32:52] But a private equity backed company or a publicly traded company. Those investors want to see your return on an investment. So the pressure for growth is much, much stronger there. And if you’re not showing growth, you’re failing as a CEO or those companies, whereas private owned companies. , I feel oftentimes have I, and again, this is not saying anything bad happens public or private equity companies.
[00:33:18] I’m just saying that their n ber one customer is not really their customer. The n ber one customer is their investor right now though, serve those investors. If they deliver a good product and service to their customers, but their n ber one customer is really the investor. Whereas a privately owned company, their n ber one customer is their customer.
[00:33:37] Yeah. You’re for what that’s worth.
[00:33:39] Bart: [00:33:39] Yeah. I think that’s a good way of saying it. So let me ask you just two last questions. One is, you know, with local marketing Institute, what, what’s one of the most, like you have experts on every week right. What are one or two of the most kind of compelling things you’ve heard in the past year or two in terms of someone coming on and just like saying something that you’re like, Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
[00:34:07] This is exactly what I want my audience to hear.
[00:34:10] Eric: [00:34:10] That’s a great
[00:34:10] Bart: [00:34:10] question. And you don’t have to reference the time you had me on your show
[00:34:19] Eric: [00:34:19] out of the park. Actually, you would all, I will use one example from yours. So we have two different kinds of office hours webinars that we do. We have. No, purely educational ones. Then we also have these kind of product demos where we bring in different marketing technologies once a month and have them, , you know, show us behind the scenes or call our under the hood sessions.
[00:34:43] What’s always interesting is you begin to look at things from a different perspective, right? So for me, the aha moment, I think for a lot of our readers, the aha moment. When we were talking about blip, billboards was this realization that, wait a minute, here, you know, you, you look at billboards and you think, ah, billboards.
[00:35:01] It’s, it’s, it’s old school. It’s just, you know, it’s not a cutting edge thing that all of a sudden now they’re starting to move into digital and they’re starting to move into a way to better quantify those metrics. But where the aha moments are when you actually are able to see here was an effort and here was a result.
[00:35:21] And, you know, you guys brought to bear an example of that, you know, Hey, this is what we’re things were like before a particular billboard campaign, a digital billboard campaign, and here’s what it was was after people resonate with that. So I think people really want to see, they don’t want the theoretical.
[00:35:36] Bart: [00:35:36] Yeah.
[00:35:37] Eric: [00:35:37] What we’ve discovered for from our business is I want to see, give me practical tactics that I could go implement or my marketing agency can go implement. Show me practical results. And when you get it out of the theoretical and actually into the look, this is what really works and what really doesn’t, and you’re honest with them about it saying, look, this doesn’t work, or it works in these circ stances, but not in these.
[00:36:01] I think that people really appreciate that, and those are the biggest aha moments that we typically will get on our sessions.
[00:36:08] Bart: [00:36:08] Yeah, that’s cool. Yeah, and I appreciate you saying that. I don’t bring blip up very often on this podcast because the real goal here is to create new and additional value, not necessarily to, you know.
[00:36:20] Talk a lot about the other ways that, , we at blip are creating value, which is, you know, through this digital advertising marketplace for billboards. You know, so when I said that, I wasn’t really saying, you know, talk about it, but I appreciate you mentioning it. Were there others. Though that, , you know, we’re just kind of really interesting to you.
[00:36:41] You felt like, , people brought to the table, whether through case studies like, , like we did or, or through just like bringing some wisdom that, that you felt like, okay, this is definitely the kind of thing that, , that local marketers or local businesses doing local marketing should understand.
[00:36:57] Eric: [00:36:57] Yeah.
[00:36:58] Bart: [00:36:58] our, our audience should go and check out local marketing Institute so that they can go and see some of these things themselves. I just kinda want to get a, , you know, just a, a tidbit, some of the highlights that you would maybe feature here.
[00:37:09] Eric: [00:37:09] So obviously within the local marketing space, Google my business is the 800 pound gorilla.
[00:37:15] Everybody wants to know, how do I optimize for Google my business? How do I deal with suspensions? What’s going on? , and what I’ve really appreciated are when folks like, you know, , joy Hawkins of Ben Fisher, a Jason Brown, we’ll, we’ll come on to our show and they’ll just. Talk practically, right? They’ll just say, you know, look guys, here’s what really works.
[00:37:35] Here’s what doesn’t work. , you’ve got people saying, look, stop worrying about where you rank in the three pack. That really, at the end of the day, doesn’t matter. It’s, are you growing your business? Are you tracking the business that you’re driving through your listings? Are you continually improving that.
[00:37:51] That’s what matters. At the end of the day, everybody is so focused on where do I rank, where do I wait? Where do I rank? And realizing that that’s not really the most important part. It’s also about you may get people to see you, but how good are you at actually then moving them and converting them into customers?
[00:38:09] That’s just as important as being seen. If not more important. So that was a good one. I think the other thing that came out was we had a session where we were talking about email marketing. Everyone’s like, Oh, email. Email is really the unsung hero in local marketing. It can drive so much business for companies that they just don’t, don’t take advantage of.
[00:38:31] And then probably one of my other favorite ones was, , we had on a session with a gentleman who talks about it. It was, . His major focus is working with HVC contractors, and he said that the best marketing tactic bar none, was probably the lowest tech marketing tactic you could have. So whether you’re a pl ber and HVC contractor, electrician, it’s.
[00:38:54] The leave behind card on the water heater or the heater or the electrical box so that, you know, water heater goes out or having a problem with the heater or air conditioner. You only remember who you worked with. You’re going to go look up some thing, but you go down there and you look and you see that car and you’re like, Oh yeah, these are the guys you use last time.
[00:39:13] I’m going to give them a call. He said, bar none. That drives more business for, , customers than anything else. For, for, , for like HVC and pl bing and those kind of contractors. Anything else? So I love those little kinds of things. It’s just, wow, this isn’t, so, this isn’t like crazy sophisticated. It’s just common sense.
[00:39:32] Bart: [00:39:32] Yeah. I love that too. , and I think there’s a lot of, a lot of things just like that, right? Like the thing that you put in a box when you ship something to someone, a little card that says, you know, from our company to yours or, or the, . If a new fence goes up, you know, or, or a new roof, people put the little sign on the line that says, you know, new roof by this company.
[00:39:57] Yeah. I love those kinds of things. That’s a good point. So being creative, but also simple in an approach.
[00:40:03] Eric: [00:40:03] That’s really, yet, it’s just being very simple in your approach and realizing that. Not everything is about creating clicks. Not everything is about creating leads. Oh, I’ll throw out one more thing.
[00:40:13] That was that. It was really good when we talked to some folks from WordStream, everybody is all about cost per click or cost per lead, right? I kind of generate clicks like other generate leads. This was the other really big aha moment. They actually did a great study where they found out that companies who are consistently putting their brand in front of their customers, wherever that may happen, to be.
[00:40:35] When it comes time for them to do something that is a direct response, a call in, a registration, an event, you know, a lead, whatever. I click that. Those direct response campaigns, we’ll see something like two to three times better ROI than for those companies who don’t consistently brand themselves. Your branding gets such a bad.
[00:40:57] Rap in today’s digital world or today’s marketing world, but the reality is our branding, branding sets the stage, but then things like inbound marketing or, or direct response campaigns come in and take all the credit.
[00:41:10] Bart: [00:41:10] Yeah, totally. That’s hard to prove. You have to do like full studies and everything, but because a branding usually is less, you know, attribution oriented.
[00:41:22] , so you get, that’s not
[00:41:23] Eric: [00:41:23] sexy. Yeah. Everybody wants the sexy, shiny new thing. Rather than look, the fundamentals that aren’t sexy are actually what work. Yeah,
[00:41:35] Bart: [00:41:35] and really a combination of all of the things in the right amount.
[00:41:38] Eric: [00:41:38] It is just like a good recipe.
[00:41:40] Bart: [00:41:40] Yeah. Cool. Well, last question, Eric, where are you going next with local marketing Institute?
[00:41:46] Are there any new big things on the horizon or are you just kind of doubling down on the s mit and the weekly classes or webinars?
[00:41:53] Eric: [00:41:53] No, we’re, we’re going to, I’m glad you asked me if I can. I’ll, I’ll, I have not told anybody, but I will tell your listeners right here and I’m actually tomorrow. Although by the time you heard us, we’ll all be out there tomorrow.
[00:42:04] We are, , , launching something great with, , with, , Sterling sky where we’re going to do a weekly kind of, , Google my business changes and updates to keep people updated on that. So we’re going to start bringing in some, some more content other than our weekly emails. The other thing that I really have on the radar to get done this year.
[00:42:24] He is a local marketing blueprint. , I don’t know if it’ll be a bundle of form. We’ll take of it. It’ll probably be live online as, , truly as a living doc ent, and probably probably publish it as a book as well. But the idea is to say. Look, here’s what it, there’s all these 15 15 million things you can do.
[00:42:43] Let me walk you through how it all fits together and kind of the the order you ought to look at things. Let’s distill it all and kind of give almost a recipe, right? You were talking about the different things in the difference. Different elements. Not that it’s going to be the perfect recipe for everybody, but here’s the base recipe.
[00:43:00] You adjust this for your specific market or specific business needs that we really want to do and we’re going to cover, you know, the seven major. Pillars that we call them. We’re going to cover local search, reputation management, local business websites, email marketing and messaging, , social media, online advertising or, or advertising in general, and, , analytics.
[00:43:24] Bart: [00:43:24] All of these are extremely helpful. You know, to local businesses. And when people call in to blip and they’re asking about digital billboards and things, one of the first things we ask is, where are you in terms of just the basics? Know your website and your search. Are these working well? Because if you have a tight funnel, that’s when brands.
[00:43:46] Medi s really make a difference if you don’t funnel, if you’re not able to capture the not capture, capture seems like a kind of a competitive or, , we think capture these. If you’re not able to, like you said, close a sale or be there for them, then there’s kind of not a huge use in, in that brand marketing.
[00:44:06] So I love how. You are complementing what blip does. You’re providing a ton of value and I really appreciate you joining the show today. Eric.
[00:44:15] Eric: [00:44:15] My pleasure. This was a lot of fun and yeah, I’m looking forward to hearing this and I’ve already subscribed your podcast, so keep up the good work.
[00:44:23] Bart: [00:44:23] Awesome builders.
[00:44:24] Check out local marketing institute.com for more of what Eric and his team provide. Like I say, super valuable to any of you who are building or running local businesses can definitely learn a lot there. Also, check out bill to stay.com we’ll have links to local marketing Institute. And we’ll also have a downloadable piece of exclusive content.
[00:44:45] If you want to check out the episode where I talk about blip on local marketing Institute, you should be able to find that as well, just by searching it online.