On Starting A $20K/Month Lead Gen Marketing Agency
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m James Harper, Founder of GoEdison. We’re a small business marketing agency that specializes in helping service-based businesses increase call volume and lead-generation.
Our main service is very specific B2B email drip campaigns that help power sales professionals in strange niches such as crime scene cleanup, the cannabis grow room cleaning, niche medical billing, water restoration, etc get more cold leads. Our nurture campaigns help them go from cold to close. Our intent is to never sell our clients services via email but to help their sales reps get a cold prospect engaged and sell a meeting. In addition to our B2B email drip campaigns, we also advertise on Google in these specific niches to help their overall company increase lead-generation and call volume.
Currently, GoEdison does about $17,000 - $20,000 recurring revenue servicing unique service based clients in strange niches. We’re a small team that truly has a passion for helping our clients get tangible results. We want to see our clients dominate their strange niche. We understand there are a TON of marketing agencies around, but very few actually talk about increasing clients' bottom line and total revenue with them. That’s what we do. We believe your marketing should be pushing your growth.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
GoEdison was founded because my partner and I saw a major need in the small business realm for better marketing. This was at the time when marketing agencies were popping up everywhere and charging smaller businesses large retainers with getting them very little return.
Too often we want to get a little too creative with our new services. Do what works and do what’s simple when you first start out.
Three years prior I had launched two other smaller agencies get off the ground and make a ton of money. The problem was, I wasn’t truly invested in those companies. I was as a key employee, but nothing more than that. So instead of helping others get rich quickly, we knew we could provide a better service and overall client experience and make it our own thing versus working for someone else.
My timing for starting GoEdison was ideal. I was newly married and only making $40,000/year working for these other shitty agencies. I also only had a mortgage with almost zero debt, which helped. I knew to supplement a $40k/annual income wasn’t impossible and if I didn’t jump ship and start my own thing now, I was never going to do it. I’m a firm believer you have to jump ship early on, before making too much money, to actually have your business make sense.
At the end of the day, GoEdison’s model made sense to me. I knew small businesses needed help improving their digital marketing. I knew how to do that and I already had experience selling it. So that’s what we did. We created a business that serviced that need.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Honestly, I wish I had something sexy to say here but I don’t. Our ideas for creating our service were based on what we already knew and a model we already knew would work. I think too often we want to get a little too creative with our new services. Do what works and do what’s simple when you first start out. It will give you less headache and allow you to get your feet wet while running a business early on.
Keep your business model simple. Your business should be simple. Customers, investors, and vendors understand simple.
A few things have evolved, obviously, since we started down this path four years ago. We narrowed down the niches we work with. Again, we only work with service-based businesses, and most of those businesses serve very odd and strange industries.
We also ONLY offer a few select services which we do very proficiently. B2B lead-generation email marketing, Google Advertising, On-page SEO & Reporting.
We kept our business simple but evolved over time when we needed to or when we were experts in a specific area.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Our “launch” is kinda funny. We launched with a video and a blog and a few hundred dollars in the marketing budget. As a marketing agency, it doesn't make a TON of sense to have a “launch”. We let people know we were open for business, and due to the nature of my background, we already had clients willing to come over to GoEdison.
We were fortunate to have positive cash-flow from day one. That helped cover initial business expenses and help build up some reserves before we started paying ourselves.
The biggest lesson we took away from our early days was the importance of establishing credibility right from the start. We’re in a crowded industry, so we had to position ourselves as thought leaders and experts right from the start. We also made our company look “bigger” than it was initially, which I believed served us well.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
How have we retained and attracted new clients? Well, this is a loaded question and one that’s always evolving.
Like any business, we retain clients that we provide good value for. We believe the best salesperson for our business is a happy client. Referral leads are always the most qualified.
In terms of client acquisition, we’ve done a few things that have worked well. We have been lucky enough to have a strong organic presence for keywords like “small business marketing” which has provided a handful of GREAT leads over the years. We’ve also hit the pavement with a cold sales strategy.
Early on, we committed to blogging and creating content 2x/per month. We wanted to make none-BS content and ONLY speak to small business owners. We knew this would do a few things; We knew by speaking ONLY to small business owners we were qualifying potential leads right off the bat. We wanted to only address issues related to our audience. We thought the marketing realm was too broad when creating “marketing content”.
We did this content strategy for 10 months once we launched, with zero return. Yes, our website traffic grew and we got some new email subscribers, but it was a grind. There were many times my co-founder and I would look at each other and wonder if creating these blogs and content was worth it. While juggling new clients, growing a new business, creating content is the last thing you want to do at times.
10 months into our content strategy it finally paid off. Literally, within five days, we got two MAJOR leads through one blog. For whatever reason, this blog here truly resonated with small business owners.
The two leads from the blog proved to be high quality and both converted and ended up singing 12-month contracts two days apart. The two leads combined $41,400/annual in revenue. Literally, that blog brought us in $3,450 which was a game-changer in our first year. The blog alone literally doubles our revenue.
We, on a monthly basis, will set up cold email campaigns to the specific niches we have success in. We set up typical sale drip campaigns for our company like we do for our clients. We know it’s impossible to sell someone on our “marketing” via email, so our intent is simple - to get them engaged and to get a meeting set up with us. We have a high close rate when this happens.
When we set up these campaigns, we keep them very niche and tailored to the audience. We don’t make these emails sexy. We keep them very simple and straightforward. We make sure to do this so they hit direct inboxes and come across “human”. Our goal is to always sell the meeting vs selling our services via email. See an intro email below.
We’re also not afraid to go to networking events and cold-call these email lists when needed. Both these tactics have also lead to quality clients for GoEdison.
Just to prove our well our email campaigns work, we track our referral traffic. As you will see in the screen-shot below, this is a snap-shot of what our typical traffic looks year over year. The primary source of referral traffic comes from our email campaigns. The quality of traffic is the highest of our email campaigns.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today, GoEdison is strong. We have a very strong and engaged core team, which now is made up of four people. We have some strategic partnerships in the work that we believe will expand GoEdison in 2020.
Essentially, 2020 will be a major growth year for GoEdison. We’re adding some new leadership and expanding our team like we never have before. We’re confident this will accelerate growth at the scale we hope to see moving forward.
Although we will see more expanded growth both in sales and leadership, GoEdison’s business model will need to remain simple to survive. Marketing doesn’t need to be confusing. It needs to be effective and streamlined. We plan to keep our core team in place while adding key players to help us grow where needed.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I’ve learned a ton from GoEdison. It’s reinforced the importance of knowing people and how valuable quality relationships are. The one thing I didn’t realize before starting my business is how many people I would get to know from becoming a business owner. My professional network is made up of CEO’s, killer small business owners and great entrepreneurs. My network, thanks to GoEdison, is pure gold. More than anything, it’s genuine and these people understand my value.
Make sure your business can survive without you. All too often we get caught where our business lives and dies by the business owner.
Lastly, over the last four years, I learned how to become a better leader, communicator, not afraid and got a crash course in business 1on1 and sales. Something no four-year degree could teach me and I got paid while doing it!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
The main tools we use to run GoEdison are listed in order below:
- Slack (internal team messaging. This is how we keep our clients separated and work-flow segmented)
- MeisterTask: German-based task management. Very few use it. We found it helpful more so than Trello.
- MailChimp: This keeps our cold outreach going and also allows us to send out more marketing newsletters to our blog subscribers.
- Freshbooks: This is our accounting and billing system
- Zelle: This is how we pay our employees
- SalesFlare: This is how we keep our sales in one spot. This is our main sales CRM.
- AgencyFlare: Sales Training & Scripts.
- Google Everything: We use docs, slides, sheets, and the entire g-suite ecosystem.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I’m a big believer in investing in yourself. Books and podcasts have given me insight, confidence, and validation at all phases when it comes to business.
Best books I’ve read for business:
- James Altucher - The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth
- Jocko Willink - Extreme Ownership
- Christopher Voss - Never Split the Difference
- Jeb Blount - Fanatical Prospecting
- Napoleon Hill - Think and Grow Rich
Podcast that has helped my business:
- The James Altucher Show
- Mike Dillard
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
I often think about what “advice” I would give to a new entrepreneur and business owner. A few things I would focus on if I were starting over would be as listed:
- Keep your business model simple. Your business should be simple. Customers, investors, and vendors understand simple.
- Hire people you can replace easily. I’ve never had to fire anyone at GoEdison, thankfully, but a business mentor told me some excellent advice. Hire people you can fire and replace quickly.
- Don’t make your business owner relient. Make sure your business can survive without you. All too often we get caught where our business lives and dies by the business owner.
- Learn to work “on” your business versus having to work “in” your business.
- Never put your business above your family. Never.
- Learn to become a great decision-maker. Big or small, have confidence in your decisions and know you’re going to make the wrong ones and don’t be afraid to take action and be accountable when you make the wrong decisions. Pivot and fail quickly.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are not looking to hire currently.
Where can we go to learn more?
The best places to learn more about GoEdison or myself are below.
GoEdison has provided an update on their business!
Almost 2 years ago, we followed up with GoEdison to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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