Entangled In The Dark Web Of Doubt For 6 Straight Years
The dark web is not a thing or a place. It lives among us, learning, adapting, embedding itself into the very fabric of our digital footprint, now synonymous with daily life. As CEOs, we’ve come to know the dark web of running a business. It preys upon your every insecurity, finding weaknesses in your defenses and your motivation to proceed, give extra effort and outsmart the competition.
And just when you feign success in lieu of giving in, hoping it will be enough to try for one more day, it swoops in – doubt, fear, hopelessness, desperation – and steals it in front of your very eyes.
Two years in, I thought my business was going strong, then BOOM! Three of my TOP CLIENTS representing 60% of my total revenue…GONE! After that gut punch, we operated with a skeleton staff. Under $1M, I was working IN the business, not ON the business. I was so broke I couldn’t even pay myself! The Dark Web of Doubt loomed large. Zero direction. Zero consistency. Zero marketing tools. Zero confidence… For. Six. Straight. Years!
Bottom Line Growth Of 142% Since Starting With Robin
My turning point came in 2016 when I received a letter from Robin Robins. Let’s just say the Godfather had spoken to me. Before that point, I was spending only .2% (yes, point two percent) of revenue on marketing. Suddenly, marketing was the primary driver for our business, which enabled us to open two new offices, one in Baton Rouge, LA, and another in New Bern, NC.
In the next two years, I acquired an MSP in Washington, DC, hired two new outside salespeople, hired a VP of Marketing and endured not one, but TWO rebranding initiatives. Plus. I also attended the Technology Marketing Toolkit’s Rapid Implementation Workshop TWICE in 2018!
As I attended Producers Club quarterly meetings and became very involved in the Robin Robins organization, along with being an Accelerators Club Coach and mentor to other MSPs, my belief in her system and campaign strategies was further solidified.
How I Defied Everyone’s Expectations To Grow $1M In One Year
At the end of 2018, we were a $2M company. I remember telling my team we would be a $3M company in just one year. They looked at me like I was crazy. Like, how can you grow a business by a THIRD in just one year? Everyone around me was telling me I wasn’t going to grow $1M in one year…but I decided to ignore their doubt (and my own Dark Web of Doubt) and went for it!
We hit $3,001,729! (Hey, it’s barely over $3M, but we’ll take it) In addition to the revenue growth, I increased my MRR by $111,662 a month and added $338,571 in new profit! But HOW did we do it? Here are three steps I took to ignore the doubts and keep moving my business forward.
First, we kept a Top 5 List Of Clients. As important as it is to have a Top 5 client list to know who you should spend most of your time and attention with, it’s also necessary to have a Top 5 Chopping Block Client List. Robin taught me that “not all money is good money.” We actually LOST seven clients in 2019 and became far more profitable. Figure out which difficult or low-paying clients to add to your own chopping block.
Second, we increased our pricing. I remember telling Robin, “I’m in Atlanta, where the market is saturated. I just can’t raise my prices.” (BTW, you probably think your market is too competitive as well.) Robin simply responded, “Yes you can. Raise them.” What really forced me to inflate my prices was talking with Jay Ryerse, former Better Your Best winner and, like myself, the owner of an Atlanta-based MSP. He said, “In the Atlanta market five years ago, I was charging MORE than what you are charging TODAY!” What a wake-up call.
In February of this year, I called Robin about a new client proposal. I told her I was hesitant about charging this whale client our full price. She convinced me to not cut my price one dime. As a result of sticking to my price, we won our biggest deal ever – a total contract value of $5M over four years plus an additional $15k a month in MRR!
Third, we consistently delivered a massive amount of marketing…
Implementing 256 Total Marketing Initiatives In A Single Year!
MSPs are always asking Robin, “What’s the ONE CAMPAIGN that will push me over the top and take me to the next level?” It’s never just one campaign. There is no “easy button.” What we’ve learned is that you must do a LOT of everything: a variety of marketing campaigns and a strong mix of media, all with a commitment of consistency and continuous follow-up.
Rather than cast a wide net to hundreds of random people, we are very diligent about focusing our marketing on a smaller group of quality prospects and current clients. That said, our Dream 100 Campaign is our best because we consistently market to our ideal prospects to bring them one step closer to becoming Vector Choice clients. Social media posts and cyber security webinars have been good to us as well.
Here’s all of our marketing initiatives from 2019 that were crucial to us adding $876,284 in new revenue and $111,662 in new MRR.
Every Single Month
- Mailed out our printed, Vector Choice–branded newsletter to our clients and top prospects – 12X in 2019; from this single drip marketing campaign, we added a new client worth $5,400 in monthly recurring revenue
- E-mailed our Done-For-You eNewsletter to clients and prospects – 12X in 2019
Direct Mail Campaigns
- Mailed out the Godfather campaign to local prospects we have been chasing – 3X in 2019
- Because the Aspirin campaign is a series of letters, we had 14 mailings to local prospects – 14X in 2019
- The Sneaky Duck campaign also features multiple letters to entice the prospect to take action – 19X in 2019
- Our cybercrime movie involved lots of Producers Club members. That whole experience was fun, and anyone can watch it on Amazon Prime under the title Cyber Crime; we sent out a series of e-mails promoting the movie premiere – 6X in 2019
- We sent a series of four e-mails promoting our Windows 7/Server 2008 EOL Webinar – 4X in 2019
- Like clockwork, every Tuesday we send our clients and prospects a TechTip Tuesday e-mail, which features a valuable piece of technology advice – 40X in 2019
Various Marketing Initiatives
- Social media posts – 69X in 2019. Can social media posts really drive new business? They did for us as we added $116,000 in new MRR!
- Trade shows – 2X in 2019
- TV appearances – 16X in 2019
- Podcasts and radio appearances – 3X in 2019
- Social media posts – 69X in 2019
- Speaking engagements – 14X in 2019
- Shock-And-Awe boxes sent before sales meetings – 40X in 2019
In response to today’s environment, we recently launched a Covid-19 Webinar, which brought in $337,000 in new project work! While businesses are shuttering and many owners are tightening their belts, there is still a lot of opportunity out there, especially by transitioning businesses to work remotely.
We learned that you can’t simply implement a marketing campaign to check it off the list. In order to gain new business and MRR from campaigns, they must be well executed. Here are six strategies we implement to maximize our results from every campaign:
- Consistency is EVERYTHING – “Stop-and-start marketing” never works.
- Hire an experienced appointment setter – Even incentivize them for each sat appointment.
- Use an auto dialer – We use Turbo Dial, and our voicemail recording is my own voice.
- Consider a CRM and marketing automation tool – We use Robin’s MAP Infusionsoft.
- Create a proven process – Because you should be sending out these campaigns each and every week or month, spend some time with your team to develop a seamless process.
- Scrub your list – Robin says your list is your most important business asset. Respect your list and keep it clean.
Building My Celebrity Branding One Blue-Suit Appearance At A Time
At many of Robin’s events, I noticed a consistent message of “singular celebrity.” That by representing myself as the go-to IT authority in my market, I would naturally draw interest to my subject matter and ultimately to my business. Sitima Fowler knew this secret and built her celebrity to grow her MSP to record levels and win last year’s Better Your Best competition.
As much as I believed in this personal branding opportunity, I could never see myself in front of a large audience or doing television appearances. I was too shy and worried I would butcher my speech. But I knew it was too important to let my fears get in the way. So, I started speaking to small audiences and over time got more and more comfortable. Before I knew it, I was asked to do TV interviews and some crazy people were actually PAYING ME to speak!
Always donning a blue suit, I am building my personal brand as a CEO and expert in cyber security, which funnels opportunities back into the business. In the last 12 months, I have done 14 speaking engagements in front of large audiences, 16 television appearances and several radio interviews and podcasts. With every appearance, I gain more authority and credibility with both clients and prospects. Not only do they take my marketing efforts more seriously, I can command a higher price because of my singular celebrity.
Escaping My Dark Web Of Doubt Forever!
When you look back, you realize that your Dark Web of Doubt is one you wove yourself, one you could have easily escaped without permission and one that is easily avoidable in the future. Technology Marketing Toolkit was basically my own personal Dark Web Scan – showing me where I had been breached before and how I could fortify my own network to avoid the same fate down the road, with the help of my Producers Club team and members. Ultimately, confidence – the kind that is earned, not bestowed – is the golden key that will drive you in any direction you choose. But only if you’re up for the ride of your life.
Today, I have the direction, the consistency and the marketing tools to confidently grow Vector Choice to a $4.5M company this year, a $15M company in five years and a $30M company in 10 years. Just this year, I accomplished worthwhile goals, such as paying off $550,000 of company debt, renting a Lamborghini for a day (blue, of course) and standing on the Boot Camp stage as a Better Your Best finalist!