Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey there! My name is Stephen Seidel and I’m the Founder of ‘Your Virtual CMO’, The Seidel Agency based out of Lexington, Kentucky.
Do you need a CMO, but don’t have the budget or time? We can help.
We are an award-winning marketing and consulting company that has helped countless companies build a profitable and scalable business using social and online tools. Voted “Best Video Explainer Company” and selected as one of LA Business Journal’s “Emerging Business Award.” Our clients typically come from the health & wellness, technology, and entertainment industries.
Our DIY Social Course MorePayingPatients.com helps medical professionals convert patients within weeks by using Instagram as “Your Virtual Consultation.”
We have developed a proprietary process called “From Looking to Booking” where we help build a community of raving fans to share your story on social media. As ‘Your Virtual CMO’ our goal is to work with you to develop a solid foundation with 3 core competencies of mission, messaging, and marketing, which we will either implement or guide you through execution.
For Example, our partner, Clutch Coffee Bar has scaled to 6 locations, while donating $40K+ to charity in under 2 years, with their drive-thru coffee experience.
Our journey began in aesthetic medicine, where we were fortunate enough to be the agency on record for a few influential MedTech start-ups and marketed them toward multi-million dollar acquisitions, most notably miraDry (Sientra, Inc) and Cearna’s OcuMend (Allergan). To date, we’ve worked with some of the biggest names in plastic and facial cosmetic surgery, dermatology, and dentistry such as Dr. Paul Nassif (Botched), Dr. Bill Dorfman (The Doctors, Extreme Makeover), Dr. Sheila Nazarian (Skin Decision), and former president of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Dr. Grant Stevens (pictured below).
Our motto is “Do Good. Give Back and Make an Impact”, and our goal is to deliver socially conscious solutions that not only benefit you, but also your customers and community. This creates a win-win-win where for your passionate followers to ‘vote with their dollar’ and support your services while empowering their own local neighborhood.
Your purpose is our priority. Our goal is to create a powerful and concise message to educate, inform and entertain audiences by “telling” your story, and not “selling” your services. By marketing what matters we have been able to help millions across the globe and scale into a solid six-figure agency.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
After being laid off a third time, and the birth of my first daughter, I decided it was time to “take my power back.” For too many years, I lived in a scenario where I let others be the drivers of my own life.
It brought me to a moment of reflection, where I was now a father and needed to provide. It was no longer about me. It brought back memories of growing up with a Dad who was constantly on the road and rarely around to experience life’s little moments, such as school plays, sports, and more. Because of this, I aspired to be a great father, and by letting others determine my destiny, I was doing myself a disservice. It was then that I decided it was time to activate my personal mission to impact, inspire and empower future generations, by being the best father I could be.
How could I champion my children and the vulnerable child we all have within us?
Over the span of 15+ years, I received a degree from Penn State from Industrial Engineering, worked at Motorola’s semiconductor factory, pursued my creative passions in New York / LA, and even started my own one-man production company called Renegade Reporting. This led me to uncover my love for creating compelling content that moved its audiences with engaging stories.
As I dug deeper, I realized that I must do everything in my power to make a difference in the lives of those around me.
A close friend of mine, Dan, had been very active in aesthetic medicine and suggested I consider marketing for their company miraDry. After all, I had created and produced a YouTube series for Omnivision Entertainment, hosted 100+ shows for MSN.com, and even sold a series to E! Online, so this was not much different. Whether it’s a television show or a promotional video, there’s always a story being told, including a hero, challenges, and the moment of triumph. This is something I learned a lot about from Joseph Campbell’s book, A Hero’s Journey.
I started out doing all the work myself, which I advise, so you can know every step along the way. Once you know your constraints and bottlenecks you can either do, delegate or delete tasks to automate and save time.
Social media was just starting to build steam, and after listening to proven players and leaders in the space like Gary Vee, Neil Patel, Seth Godin, and more, it was obvious that online content marketing was the future. If I could sell a show to network executives, then surely we could help patients see the confidence living deep within themselves.
My background to date has been a myriad of things; engineering, media, marketing, branding, as well as content development and production, but they all had one thing in common, the desire to help others. And to touch them in a way that makes them look, feel and be better. It was simple, transforming lives was the answer. No matter the medium.
The aha moment came when I said yes to the opportunity at miraDry and started posting on social media. By learning from the experts before me, and studying proven techniques, it became a daily quest towards building a better tomorrow, one post at a time. Slowly but surely I learned about hashtags, algorithms, funnels, and more. I wrote blogs, created videos, podcasts and did whatever I could to hone my craft, much like my days as an actor in The Big Apple. Not everything worked, but it gave me the skills and confidence to find what did.
Eventually, my time became my biggest constraint while demand increased, and I needed a faster way to help transform more lives. That’s when I decided to develop a robust online training module for MorePayingPatients.com. This process laid the foundation to extend beyond the medical arena and begin helping other businesses “Go Virtual” with our purpose-driven ‘Virtual Consulting.’
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Many people believe when you start a business you need a website, logo, and Facebook Group, but I disagree. Some of the most successful companies or consultants don’t even have a website. If you provide value, then you can grow, it’s just that simple. It helps to separate your ego from your intention and understand that your mission is to provide value and inspire change.
When I started, I wrote down my GPS (goals, plans, strategies) to guide me through, which included both SMART (short measurable actionable results-driven tasks) and long-term STRETCH goals. This helped me remain on task and constantly check in with myself to determine the wins (and losses) daily.
After agreeing to help my first client, it required putting in the work and holding myself accountable. As I mentioned earlier, I followed as many marketing blogs, podcasts, and visionaries as I could, while looking for ways to deliver a more premium product. One of the biggest lessons I learned was that I was the secret sauce to my success. It took some time to realize that, but once I did, it became clear that there were qualitative and quantitative ways to differentiate my business in a crowded marketplace.
Within the consumables industry, there are both internal and external sales representatives and I decided to align myself with the internal sales team that regularly interacted with physicians. In our industry, they are called PDM or practice development managers. This helped me to shorten the learning curve and sales lifecycle for medical spas, dermatologists, and nurse injectors. Many were overworked, underappreciated, and unfulfilled. If I was able to help them do their job easier, faster, and with more intention, I had a chance.
First, I created a HOPE email, whose name aligned with my core value system, and stood for “Help Our Practices Engage.” It was a weekly email to deliver quick insights with turnkey actionable next steps to save them time. We also put together an appreciation campaign to acknowledge key contributors with $50 Amazon gift cards, which we still do to this day. And lastly, we decided that every partner should have a charity or organization they donate towards, or we would help them find one.
I’m constantly interacting with my target market to understand their problem areas, to ensure we deliver to their every need. One of the best ways to stay in business is to partner an irresistible offer with an ideal client or customer. When we work with new teams we deliver social media tutorials, in-practice marketing materials, and industry insights, as well as a charitable donation to charity on their behalf. This helps level up our social media management by touching on each area of concern.
At the end of the day, our goal is to keep it simple by sharing our features, benefits, and advantages. Our reputation and proven track record of success make it easy for our partners to understand how we can help you build your brand, boost awareness and systematically scale online.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Our launch was truly an organic one, which is one of the reasons why we love organic content too. It brings an honest and authentic approach to building a brand with a powerful story. While at Penn State, I studied Industrial Engineering, which emphasized productivity rates with lean processes. I embed these philosophies in all that I do. When starting my company I only had one intention, to deliver as much value as possible. And it worked, as our first client was eventually acquired, as a result of our work.
You’re only as good as your word. So if you say you’re going to deliver, then deliver. If not, it’s important to accept your responsibility and pay the ultimate price for inaction.
The next thing we did was leverage the relationships we built while working with our first clients. One thing we suggest for any business is a launch email notifying others of your new venture, and if the email recipient is not right, ask them to share with someone who is. Much like a TV show, it’s all about your audience. If your consumer base is not satisfied with what you’re doing, then you most likely won’t last long.
How can you incentivize your team or target audience to take action?
Typically with launch emails, we suggest offering something in return, and it can be anything from a personalized voice ‘thank you’ text to a six-pack of beer.
We launched our company with nothing but a landing page. The page had a value video at the top, a product description, video testimonials, and a time-sensitive call to action. ClickFunnels perfected this technique initially, and now many others have taken what they’ve done and expanded on it. If you don’t know about GoHighLevel, I would suggest checking them out, as they combine a handful of tools to scale an agency.
Since we were a digital agency, we wanted to make it as easy as possible to grow virtually and decided “Your Virtual CMO” was a great way to brand ourselves. This helps you easily understand our value from a cost, time, and management perspective. The average salary of a CMO ranges from $100K - $350K, so there is a lot of money to be saved there. This approach paid off during the lockdown and rise of quarantines.
We quickly found out that our two best friends when starting a business are your accountant and lawyer. P&L (profits and losses) are extremely important to understand and keep you from going under. Since we started with one client and built from there, we didn’t have any major expenses aside from platforms and talent. Fortunately, my wife was a CPA so she helped us out, and I was recommended to an amazing attorney in Andrew Barcello.
Next, we moved on to our logo, which had an Impact, Inspire and Empower as our foundation, which was also my personal mission. The color blue was chosen to represent honesty, as well as its significance to America. After a few years, we changed our motto to “Do Good. Give Back and Make an Impact.” This helped us get clearer on our goal to serve each business owner more inclusively. Much like business and life, nothing is permanent. You just have to take the first step and can iterate and change later, or as many entrepreneurs say, “pivot.”
I started out doing all the work myself, which I advise, so you can know every step along the way. Once you know your constraints and bottlenecks you can either do, delegate or delete tasks to automate and save time. Also, find ways to increase your impact by partnering with third parties, affiliates, and key influencers. For example, when we launched our “miraDry is Confidence” re-brand, we partnered with Antonio Sabato, Jr. to help us raise awareness and drive engagement with our DTC (direct to consumer) campaign.
It’s important to have a thorough job description, a list of expectations, and a detailed review process for team members to keep them on task and on time. Usually, I set goals and offer bonuses for achieving them. I work hard to create a culture where everyone is empowered to help us grow by being the best version of themselves. It’s important to have a safe space for suggestions and pushing back, when necessary.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Word of mouth has been our primary driver for growth, as relationships are the foundation to success. Whether or not I’m speaking to a front desk attendant or the C-Suite, I look to create a rapport immediately and find ways to relate to each person, and then write it down and follow up on LinkedIn. As I mentioned before, past colleagues have helped me tremendously, and I’m extremely grateful for that. I usually offer 10% commission, Amazon gift cards, or wine and they often refuse. However, it’s the thought that counts. We love to use this hashtag, #TogetherWeAchieveMore.
Testimonials are the livelihood of our industry. Typically anyone seeking services will use “Google” or “Yelp” to look for reviews, instead of the old-fashioned way of looking through a list of providers. We’ve done our best to deliver above and beyond expectations, and also share the good word using video. Videos are the connective tissue in all of our content marketing and maintaining your reputation is part of that. Check out a few Seidel Agency testimonials here.
Landing Pages have helped us truly understand what’s working and what is not. We’ve tried a $50K Instagram webinar, Free Medical Marketing, and even a Penn State Mentor Program to “Turn Passion into Profit.” It doesn’t matter which content you choose, as long as you have the next step, like a landing page, to drive calls to action. It makes segmenting, retargeting, and connecting with audiences a breeze.
Speaking and Podcasts raise our brand’s visibility with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) and SME (Subject Matter Experts), both in marketing/branding and in our specific niches like aesthetics. I’ve hired individuals on Fiverr and followed Help a Reporter Out to identify promotional opportunities and it’s worked pretty well. Here’s a podcast with our friend and surgeon Dr. Daria Hamrah, where we discussed ‘Marketing for the Now.’
Industry Partnerships was instrumental in creating synergy amongst established players in the space. When we started we were unknown and needed to make a name for ourselves. Therefore, I did my best to attend many events and find others whom I connected with and aligned my company with theirs. By offering a no-brainer in terms of resources like Free marketing, tutorials, or audits, helped me get my name out and also raise their brand awareness. Some of my partners include FriendMedia, BuildMyBod, PatientNectar, Tier 3's GrowTox System and more.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We plan on ramping up even more in the next 1-3 years, while we segment our offerings for each niche we’re currently active in. You know what they say, “the riches are in the niches!” We are seeing the biggest growth in health and wellness, while content, video, and social media marketing continue to climb in every industry, due to the nature of being quarantined in a pandemic.
We enjoy tailoring and delivering a custom experience for every partner and scaling 10X within the next five years. Shout out to Grant Cardone!
Partners continue to join us. Their baseline on social media is expanding and their followers are not only moving “From Looking to Booking,” but also referring their friends with amazing content across all platforms.
We have a small team of about 10, which helps us ideate, innovate and create scalable solutions to tell your story.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
You’re only as good as your word. So if you say you’re going to deliver, then deliver. If not, it’s important to accept your responsibility and pay the ultimate price for inaction.
Being raised outside Philadelphia, I love being the underdog, much like two of Philly’s finest, Rocky and the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles.
Running a business is not easy, and it’s up to you to keep afloat as the waves ebb and flow. It’s not about your best interest, but your company’s best interest. Don’t take it personally, and push yourself outside your comfort zone and into new and exciting situations to make more discoveries.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- Upwork, Fiverr, and OnlineJobs.Ph for freelance support.
- Handshake for hiring college interns.
- Slack, Monday, and ClickUp for team communication.
- Planoly, Hashtastic, SocialBlade for social media monitoring.
- Stripe, PayPal, and Zelle for online payments.
- Hubspot for CRM services.
- Google Suite for email, file storage
- Wordpress, GoDaddy, and SiteGround for websites.
- Mailchimp, Calendly for Email Drip Campaigns.
- Zoom for client calls.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Recently, I’ve been looking to find clarity in my personal life to create a positive work-life balance post-pandemic. I’ve been doing a deep dive into meditation, exercise, journaling, and sleep monitoring to create more space for excellence.
- Thich Nhat Hahn’s ‘Peace is Every Step’ helps me remain present at all times.
- Crucial Conversations* *is great for communicating in high-stakes situations.
- Tim Ferriss Podcast, How I Built This with Guy Raz, Neil Patel’s Marketing School Podcast, and Business Wars by Wondery help me find business nuggets of knowledge.
- Get Flash Notes are bite-sized summaries to help you digest entire self-help and business books within a matter of minutes.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
As Simon Sinek stated, “Start with Why ..”
Identify Your Highest Commitments. Find what means most to you, and determine what you’re willing to (or not) do to get it. When you come from a place of love and curiosity, you’ll find yourself living life’s greatest journey, being present.
Keep it Simple. If your grandmother doesn’t understand what you’re doing, or how you are explaining it, rethink it. And use some of the keys to engagement, see below.
- Rule of Three: Trios are easy to recall and implement.
- 80/20 Rule: 20% of efforts = 80% of results
- Law of Reciprocity: Like Karma, be nice and it’ll return.
It’s Not About You. Find out how you can deliver value to them. Too many times I have mentees asking, “Can you help me?” Which is fine, I totally want to help them, but oftentimes prospective clients or customers are busy or focused on the bottom line. That being said, if they say “no” or don’t respond, it usually isn’t because you did something wrong.
Follow-up. This is the key to any successful relationship, company, or organization, especially when it comes to sales. A current client of ours took 3 years to come around, but we were persistent and patient and eventually, they came around after seeing our work history.
We have two 9-Step programs to help you grow.
- Medical Professionals: MorePayingPatients.com helps you build on Instagram.
- Online Businesses: Turn Passion into Profit helps you systematically scale.
We love mentoring business owners and doing strategy calls to get you in the right place, so please reach out to us at [email protected].
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
- Junior Graphic Designer: Photoshop, Adobe Skills (Paid, Part-Time)
- Junior Facebook Ads Specialist: Pixel, Retargeting, Lookalikes (Paid, Part-time)
- Social Media Intern: Management & Design - see Handshake (Unpaid)
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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