Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Jay Vics, and I am a serial entrepreneur. My company name is JVI Mobile Marketing, and I have several productized services under that brand. Our Flagship product is a digital marketing consulting for small businesses.
We work with many different clients who want 3 similar things; More traffic, more sales, and more repeat business. They all have one major hurdle in common as well.
They don’t understand how or don’t have the time to market their business online.
Some of our best success stories and case studies have been in the Estate Sale/Home Liquidation, Family Fun Center, and E-Commerce industries. We specialize in helping B2C customers but have a few B2B clients as well.
In the end, we say that all business is H2H(human-to-human).
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I started my professional career in 1997 and I learned how to build websites with HTML. Over the years, I held several different types of jobs in web development, sales, and marketing, along with management. In 2010, I was working for a cell phone retailer, and went to a business growth workshop were someone I knew stood up and said: “I wish someone would teach me how to use my stupid smartphone!”
I remember immediately taking out a piece of paper and writing the words “how to use your stupid smartphone”, that day my company unknowingly began. Even though we didn't officially launch until 2012, I began teaching people how to use their Android devices. What I found is that most people coming to the workshops were a bit older, and they wanted to keep up with their kids and grandkids.
Trends come and go, and are out of your control. Momentum is something you can create by focusing on what you want.
What was interesting is that several “students” owned small businesses and didn't have any clue how to utilize the technology available to market their businesses.
I had a few conversations with some small business owners who began to ask questions about using this technology for their business.
I knew I could help them.
I wasn't available or ready to begin the process of helping these small business owners market their business as a full-time job so I started it completely as a “side-hustle”. The very first service that I offered was as a white-labeled mobile app reseller where I partnered with a company and we were able to build small business loyalty apps that could be downloaded from the Apple or Google app stores.
Over time this grew into text message marketing, website maintenance and design, graphic design, and social media management.
Today, not only are we a full service, full-stack digital marketing fulfillment agency, but we are moving back into doing classes, workshops, and coaching for small business owners which is really bringing us back to our “roots” of teaching small business owners how to use the available technology in their business.
This month we are launching HowTo.Agency, which is going to be a wonderful training resource for small business owners and we have coupled it with our coaching Facebook group called the Digital Marketing Assistant.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
I think this is the part where having a digital agency with digital products puts us in a much easier spot than somebody who has to design and prototype and manufacture a physical product.
We have always been on the lookout for tools that we can rebrand and resell as our own to our clients to help make their lives easier. It's kind of a great balance of having low overhead, enabling us to stay focused on helping others without the headaches of bugs and flaws in our systems.
We have some pretty amazing software tools, one of our biggest is called MySoPro and it is a social media management and automation software along with a built-in image editor and a content research tool. It also has some pretty amazing analytics that you can run on your social accounts.
We like to often say that if HootSuite, Canva, and Buzzsumo had a baby it would be MySoPro.
We offer a Freemium version that you can use forever and connect unlimited social accounts to it. Here is a video walkthrough:
Another really cool software-as-a-service that we offer is our reputation management platform. Users can upload their customer data or add customers one at a time to the system. Then our software automates the process of collecting real reviews from them via customizable email or text message. Once collected they can be immediately distributed to Google, Home Advisor, Angie's List, Facebook, or any of about a hundred niche-specific review directories.
Describe the process of launching the business.
In terms of launching the business, I was really fortunate.
In 2015, my wife asked me if I wanted to move to her hometown of South Boston, Virginia. She was interested in an open position there.
I told her that I would be happy to go as long as I could turn my side-hustle into a full-time career move.
The only stipulation I had from her was that I couldn’t borrow money from our personal checking account to fund business. As long as my business would be self-funded then basically I could do whatever I wanted.
Lucky for me, my wife has a decent job and our costs have been minimal.
I had already been doing the side hustle thing for about three years so I had already built up a decent customer base of recurring monthly revenue.
Creating our website has never fully been completed. I say that jokingly, as we have several different websites for the agency. As fast as the digital marketing industry moves, I feel like they are all constantly a work-in-progress.
Additionally, Google's algorithm change to account for site speed and mobile-friendliness has required us to go through many iterations of the site and continuously change them as well as updating the blog. Today, we have roughly five or six different websites that we use for different things, but a lot of our focus lately has been on the howto.agency website and getting that ready.
Find mentors, coaches, and people who have achieved what you are looking to do and stop being a know-it-all and listen to them. Pay them if you have to. Tiger Woods still has coaches.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
When the company first started, I went into it with a friend of mine who was going to be a business partner. I remember he and I going and meeting with business owners to “tag-team” sell them on the idea of having a mobile loyalty app for their business. We couldn't figure out exactly what to charge and one day we just decided to throw a number out of $1,000 for each app and one new prospect bought two.
We couldn't believe that in a 60-minute conversation we could bring in $2,000 and the idea of us tag-teaming the sales process seemed to be the golden ticket.
However, I think that going in with a partner has its challenges and limitations. Especially as a side-hustle.
Ultimately it didn’t work out and he took a new job.
Luckily, I am still good friends with him and just attended his wedding last summer.
Networking has continued to be the catalyst for growth at the agency. Just about 80% of all of our business has come from word-of-mouth, referrals, partnerships, and networking.
I find that when I stay out in front of business owners, business is plentiful. When I sit around the office and try to work on other areas of marketing things seem to dry up.
This was actually a huge reason for moving into the workshop space once again because I can offer free (or low-cost) training and courses to be in front of small business owners who inevitably will end up asking can you do this for me?
Having that human-to-human connection with my clients has also been a huge factor in retention. Several of my clients have been with me since 2012.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Currently, we are profitable but it isn't exactly the profitability that I dream of. However, five years after going full-time I do not ever have to take money from our personal checking account (chuckling).
One of the struggles that I feel like we face is making our agency a bit too complicated.
This year we are moving back to simple.
We are trying to outsource more of our fulfillment allowing us to internally continue building the relationships with our clients while making sure that they generate a very good return on their investment.
We are currently bringing in around $7,500 a month in revenue with very little overhead. Just about all profit which continues to get reinvested in the business. I take a small salary and I feel like that has been one of the ways we've been able to be successful to this point. This year, our goal is to get to 17,000 a month in revenue and we have put into place a few ways to get there.
One big piece of advice I could give to someone looking at starting up a business is to find mentors, coaches, and people who have achieved what you are looking to do and stop being a know-it-all and listen to them. Pay them if you have to. Tiger Woods still has coaches.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Don't be afraid to make mistakes and don't dwell on missed opportunities. We have so many challenges and obstacles throughout our weeks and months that if we get hung up on them, we fail in our ability to pivot. We focus on staying versatile.
I heard it said recently that trends come and go, and are out of your control. Momentum is something you can create by focusing on what you want. Momentum is much greater than the trends.
Have you ever heard of the Serenity Prayer? Accept the things that you cannot change and change the things you can.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Actually, we use so many tools, but here are a few of our favorites. Besides WordPress and Shopify to build sites, we use:
- Social Media Automation/Content/Scheduling: MySoPro
Email Marketing: Mailchimp
- Online Reviews: Reputation.jvimobile.com
- Facebook Ad Management: AdEspresso
- CRM: Hubspot CRM
- Online Meeting/Conference: Vectera
- Video Walkthrough/Screen Recording: Dubb
- Webinars: Webinar Ninja
- Bookkeeping/Invoicing: Freshbooks
Oh, and we use AppSumo. A lot! Like, way too much!!
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
There are several books that we really liked but I think the one that has made the most impact on me has been The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes. Some runners-up would include books or blogs by Brad Sugars, Josh Turner, Neil Patel, and Ryan Deiss.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Some important rules that I try to give myself include:
- Don't take yourself too seriously.
- Be able to Pivot as fast as you can.
- Test and measure as much as possible.
- Remember that friends can be family and family comes first.
- No matter the nature of your business all relationships are human-to-human.
- Leaving a list of leads on paper will never make a sale. There must be action taken.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are not currently hiring any positions, but are always willing to talk to interested people who are looking to get their start in digital marketing.
We also never turn away a conversation from someone who is interested in promoting our services or selling our services to others for a lucrative recurring commission. We are happy to take on apprentices at any time and we have used the Acadian platform to achieve this in the past.
Where can we go to learn more?
- JVI Mobile Marketing
- Digital Marketing Assistant Facebook Group
- Social Media Survival Kit
- Linkedin Jay Vics
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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