2020 Forecast: Phenomenal Growth
Release Date: 05/05/2020
The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast
Twenty-nine years ago, Alvaro Psevoznik, CEO of DM Agency, was a 19-year-old Argentinian law student, designing flyers for hospitality clients in exchange for admissions into nightclubs. Alvaro found himself frustrated with Argentinian politics – which is plagued with fiscal instability, political corruption, de-motivational handouts for a large percentage of the (unemployed) citizenry, and a cycle of massive financial crises every 5 or 10 years. Alvaro’s experience was, no matter how hard one worked and saved, bank accounts could disappear overnight. This constant uproar, Alvaro says,...info_outline Marketing a Menu for Restaurant Success
The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast
Melissa Libby, owner of Melissa Libby & Associates (MLA), started her career in hospitality. Today, her friends call her the Restaurant Whisperer In this interview, Melissa talks about the challenges restaurants have faced in the face of Covid-19, the changes yet to come, and the lessons she has learned in her 27 years of restaurant marketing. In recent months, MLA has helped its clients pivot to curbside delivery, takeout, and/or to serving different retail markets. Some of the adaptations? Restaurants have: Started low-overhead ghost kitchens/pop-ups that provide different menus...info_outline Four Core Audiences: Your Email, the Lookalike Email, Your Web, and the Lookalike Web
The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast
Chris Carr, President and CEO of Farotech, started his agency 19 years ago as a web development company, moved into SEO, and then transitioned to what Chris calls conversion science. Today, Chris says, his agency builds integrated systems that generate leads, nurture leads into clients, and then convert clients into brand ambassadors who refer new clients to the brand. Chris says that most companies spend a majority of their time and effort generating leads – and then alternating between generating leads and reacting to the results. He emphasizes that businesses can’t depend on a single...info_outline StoryBrand the Client as Epic Hero
The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast
Jay Owen, Founder and CEO at Design Extensions, started building basic websites at age 17. He worked for a number of years as a “solopreneur,” hiring contractors as needed, and, as a company, made as much as six figures. When the economy collapsed in 2008, Jay’s business was still doing well. He looked around. People were losing jobs. Things were in crisis. Idea? He’d create a full-time job for somebody. His StoryBrand Certified Agency and HubSpot Goal Partner has been in business and growing for over 20 years. Today, Design Extensions employs about 20 people, a great size because Jay...info_outline Profit Strategy for a Crisis
The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast
Kevin Hourigan is President and CEO of Bayshore Solutions, a digital agency that started in 1996 as a branch of a managed services provider – a 3-member team building and maintaining client networks. Two years later? Thirty employees. Decades ago, one of the Kevin’s engineers developed a company website and asked 100 of the company’s clients if they would be interested in a 3-page website for $500. Client responses were either “What’s a website?” or “We’ll never need one of those.” One client agreed to give it a try. That $500 website cost $5,000 to build, but two years...info_outline How to Build Community & Make Great Marketing Accessible
The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast
Erik Huberman is Founder and CEO of Hawke Media, an agency serving as “an outsourced CMO-level expert” which, Eric says, “puts client success ahead of our own.” The agency’s “SWOT team” identifies “holes” in a client’s marketing program and provides a “comprehensive à la carte menu of services and month-to-month contracts” to address those needs in a timely manner. Month-to-month works, Erik says, because the idea of signing a long-term contract with someone you have just met is like getting married to someone you’ve never even dated.” When the agency started 6-1/2...info_outline Tik-Tok and Other Profitable Opportunities at the Bleeding Edge
The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast
David Azar is Founder and CEO of Outsmart Labs, a digital marketing agency focused on riding new trends and platforms to drive more traffic, more visibility, and more online conversions. His agency works with clients to build a 360 strategy to drive those conversions in sales, traffic, and newsletter signups. David says, “Digital marketing changes so fast that it’s about whoever adapts faster and whoever finds the opportunities in the market.” The agency provides traditional digital marketing services -- Google strategies, Facebook, traditional social media strategies – but likes...info_outline Content Marketing: What’s Your Story?
The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast
Bonnie Mauldin, Founder and Managing Director for The Mauldin Group, left a career in medicine to start a general, full-service digital marketing agency, helping any client who knocked on the door. Today, The Mauldin Group provides professional web design, internet marketing, and business development training to clients in “healthcare, construction, manufacturing, senior living, and education.” Bonnie feels these industries are less regulated than others, like finance. Less regulation means her team can create marketing content and “freely share information, education, and entertainment...info_outline Perfecting Personas
The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast
Justin Ramb is President and Sandra Marshal, VP of Client Services, at Bigeye, a full-service B2B and B2C agency that focuses on audiences, creative work, media and analytics, and data. Understand audience: Use primary and secondary research to discover who they are, where they consume media, what they look like, and what triggers them to convert Develop marketing personas that match two or three target audience personas Test strategies against those personas to ensure activities align with objectives B2B: Use current customer data to develop lookalike audience and...info_outline Bridging the Gap for Big Market Enterprises
The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast
Justin Gray is CEO and Founder of LeadMD, a performance marketing consultancy. The agency concentrates on achieving tangible, holistic business goals – defining a buyer, launching a product, increasing revenue – to produce bottom-line impacts, rather than focusing on middle-process goals such as website or cost-per lead-optimization. Most of LeadMD’s over 3,500 clients are B2B and B2C considered-purchase organizations – big market enterprises of $100 million and up. A “considered purchase” is a complex buying decision, fraught with emotional and financial risks and potential...info_outline
Jon Boles is the Founder and CEO of Avintiv Media Avintiv Media, an award-winning boutique digital marketing agency that focuses on branding, web design, and digital marketing content creation, syndication, and search engine optimization. Starting as a full service agency 4 years ago, running ads, Facebook ads, and working with celebrities and influencers in the influencer marketing niche. The agency withdrew from advertising and social media when they determined the uncontrollable volatility compromised the value add of those services. What that left was what they were passionate about anyway: branding, web design, and digital marketing – key pieces of every brand’s lifecycle.
Avintiv serves a wide variety of industries, but one “ideal client” is a well-funded, very-much-at-the-beginning startup with business experience. The process begins with a deep-level discovery consultation to determine the “end goal.” This usually progresses to a half-day brand workshop, which involves the brand’s/company’s stakeholders and the entire Avintiv strategy team. The product of that workshop is a 40-50+ business plan/investor pitch deck that covers SWOT analysis, and includes buyer personas, a mission statement, and a competitive analysis, what Jon refers to as a company’s “Bible for your business over the next 10 years.” Jon explains his company’s criteria for finding startups to work with . . . relationships where the end result is win-win-win . . . the company, its customers, and Avintiv all gain.
In branding, Avintiv may provide a company name, logos, icons, SKUs, a style guide, typography, colors, and with e-commerce or product-based businesses, product development and design. The in-house development/creative team builds out a custom WordPress or Shopify website. The SEO team takes over at that point, providing keywords, creating a 6- to 12-month SEO campaign, and writing the content.
The second “ideal client” is one that has grown in the past and wants to grow today, but can’t seem to “move the needle” in today’s business climate. Avintiv takes these companies through the entire buyer’s journey to clarify who their customers really are . . . and why they buy. Working off data, Avintiv identifies the buyers and price points companies need to target, redesigns the website to fit buyer needs. Jon has found that working with investors and investor firms can be very effective, because investors appreciate that working with Avintiv increases the odds of recouping their investments.
In this interview, Jon talks about the impact of corona virus . . . that he believes it will probably change a lot of the way we do business, that brands will need to pay closer attention to detail, that a “less trusting” population will research more, judge organizations’ actions more during these hard times, and look for good people and good companies with which to do business. Jon says that he has found that, people in quarantine have become more engaged and more focused on providing good to the community. People whose work typically comes with a high price tag are jumping in and offering their services for free. In the same vein, Jon says he has no passion for building something for himself: his passion is for changing other people’s lives. He expects the coming year to be one of unprecedented growth.
Jon’s company can be reached on its website at: www.avintivmedia.com or through Instagram t @AvintivMedia. Jon is best reached on Instagram @JonBoles.
ROB: Welcome to the Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast. I’m your host, Rob Kischuk, and I’m joined today by Jon Boles. Jon is the Founder and CEO at Avintiv Media based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Welcome to the podcast, Jon.
JON: How’s it going, my man?
ROB: It’s going great. You?
JON: No complaints this week as of yet. It’s pretty crazy what’s going on in the world, but we’re prepared for it.
ROB: Sure. We’re dead in mid-late March, right in the thick of the coronavirus, and everybody is sheltering in place. But we are sheltering on a podcast. Why don’t you start off, Jon, by telling us about Avintiv Media and where Avintiv excels?
JON: Avintiv Media is an award-winning boutique digital marketing agency in Scottsdale, Arizona, and we specialize in three solutions for our clients: branding, web design, and digital marketing. With digital marketing, what we hone in on is content creation and syndication and SEO.
Essentially, we launched Avintiv 4 years ago. We were a full service agency. We ran ads, we did Facebook ads, we did influencer marketing, we worked with a lot of celebrities and influencers. We just realized what we weren’t passionate about anymore. We realized what we were passionate about, and that is building brands, and that’s only offering services that we truly believe in. With how volatile and how up-and-down advertising is, social media channels are, we didn’t feel that we had enough control over them to have them be fully valuable for a client. So we focus on those three services.
ROB: Perfect. Those three services seem like a natural lifecycle that any brand is going to go through.
ROB: The need for a brand refresh, the need to speak that into the world, and then the need to continue sustaining that. Do people often come to you at the branding end of things, or is it really they enter into that virtuous cycle at every point but still go through that cycle?
JON: That’s such a great question. I’m glad you asked that. The reason why we offer those three services – my background is consulting, so I’ve been building brands for close to 11 years now, probably built and scaled over 250 or 300 brands in the past 10 years so far. I found a common element on what it takes to start a brand, grow a brand, and keep growing it with trust and redoing the branding and redoing landing pages, websites, and that is why we offer those services that we do.
To answer your question, we have two really ideal customers that come to us. We have a plethora of different industries that we serve, but our ideal customers that we know are going to be grand slams, it’s going to be a win-win for both parties, is startups that haven’t gotten started yet and they have funding behind them, whether it’s an angel investor or they have family money behind them.
They are already seasoned with business. They either have a good job or they’ve started companies in the past, and they realize that the statistics are against starting a small business or starting a business. The odds are against you. People come to Avintiv or to myself and they want it done right the first way.
We start with the discovery; that goes into a small consultation to get to know them. What are their goals? What are their dreams? We dive inside their head, deeper than they’ve even gone, and figure out what they really wanting to start this company for. Is it an exit? Is it this is their lifelong dream that they’ve dreamt of since they were a child? What is their end goal?
What happens is after that consultation, 9 times out of 10 it goes into a brand workshop. A brand workshop is a half-day consultation with our entire strategy team and whatever stakeholders are in that brand or that company. Then that dives into 40-50+ pages that we create for them. It’s a new aged business plan/investor pitch deck, if you would. It goes over SWOT analysis, we create buyer personas, we create a mission statement, we go over your competition. It’s the Bible for your business over the next 10 years.
Clients really love that because it gives them, their team, their investors, or anyone involved the playbook of who they are, why they’re doing what they’re doing, and it creates validity to them starting this company. It gives them hope that this can be successful.
After that, we help brand with naming, coming up with the name – or if they already have the name that they want, it goes into logo, icons, it goes into style guide, typography, colors, the whole nine yards. If it’s an ecommerce or a product-based business, we then go into the product development and design.
We were big in 2019 in the CBD industry. We had multiple clients that did the brand workshop. We then created 20 different SKUs for them, whether it was gummies, tinctures, bottles – you name it and we created – the bottles, the SKUs. We did a CBD water company in 1,200 or 2,400 Circle Ks, so we had to do different line item SKUs for them.
Once it’s in the product design phase and the packaging design phase, then we start building out the website. Once the website is fully built out, we do custom WordPress or Shopify, depending on what the client’s needs are. We have in-house devs, in-house creative team, so it’s not outsourced to Asia or India or anything like that.
Once the website is getting ready to launch, our SEO team hops in and redoes all the on-page SEO. We build out their keyword analysis and basically create their 6- to 12-month SEO campaign, and we start writing the content. That’s how we launch a lot of the companies. And we do consult with them what they should be doing on social media, what they should be doing on the ground with their team, and vice versa.
So that’s a 20,000-foot approach of a new brand that would hire us. Then we have a lot of companies that are 2 to 20 years old that have hit plateaus. They scaled up really quickly or they bought their family’s business from them or they’ve bought a company or they just don’t know how to grow in 2020. They come to us, and it’s almost the same process. It’s just a company that’s doing a couple million in revenue and that’s not good enough for them. They want to hire more employees. They want to scale up to more cities. They go through the exact same process that I just mentioned to you.
ROB: Very interesting. One thing that’s interesting there is that I think with an established brand, you as the agency have the advantage of they have customers; they may just not fully understand them. They may not fully understand why they are customers. It seems like you would be able to come in as Avintiv and pull on that thread and understand the deeper customer road and innovations.
One thing that is hard in the startup world and the raising money world is that sometimes the ideal customer for them is a little bit more hypothetical. How do you walk through that process of helping them discover what is real versus what is an imagined fiction that they’ve been pushed towards – sometimes just in order to raise money?
JON: I’ll start with the first question and follow back with the startups. The first question you asked – yeah, I think it’s vital for an already-successful company that’s hit a plateau to come to us because they think they know their customers, but they’ve had so many employee changeovers, their team is much larger than it used to be.
The owner thinks they know who their customers are because when they started it 2 to 10 years ago and they were the sales guy, they were on the frontlines – as the business grows, the CEO or the founder is not on the frontlines anymore. As time goes on – I’ve even been at fault for this in the past with other ecommerce companies – you start to lose who your customers are and what is making them purchase from you.
We go through an entire customer buyer journey with them, and we even interview some of their customers and some of their clients and go through the whole process. “What is your buying process? Why do you buy from them? What makes you light up about working with this company?” The findings of that is it’s almost like an out-of-body experience for business owners that have been in business for so long because it’s completely different than anything they would’ve thought. The reasons why these customers shop with them or go to them are things they don’t even focus on.
That allows us to go back and figure out the three differentiators. Why do people shop with them? Why do people go to them for business? That allows us to help redesign the website and focus on why people go there, and use that as the language. That helps big time.
Now, on the second question, for startups, you have a lot of people that are trying to raise money. Yeah, they put different types of Baby Boomers or millennials or this or that because they think that’s the cool thing to talk about or they read a press release on Forbes or Entrepreneur.com and they’re adding personas in there.
What we do is go on data. We’re not just throwing crap against the wall and hoping it sticks. Our team of analysts and our team of strategists, including myself, we’ve been researching for 10 years, so we know exactly what materials and resources to use, how to dive in, dive deep. We’re able to find other business plans and other things that are already out there and basically pull together a web of different resources and show the entrepreneurs, “Hey, this is why your personas are a little bit off. Really, it’s this person who’s going to be buying from you. The price point needs to be XYZ, not what you had in your pitch deck.”
You might grow a little bit slower, you might grow a little bit faster, but we go off data. That’s why investors and investor firms – we partner with a couple investment firms – they love working with us because when you work with Avintiv, the investor has higher odds of getting their return back, and at a quicker pace. But if you’re working with an entrepreneur and this is their second or third business and there’s really no direction, it’s just going off of them, it’s a lot riskier doing that because the investor is thinking, “What if something happens? What if they get burnout? What if this happens?”
When you have an agency that knows what they’re doing, we have as many case studies as we do, we have as much experience in the industry as we do, investors feel very safe working with us because our team acts as if we’re the owners of the company as well.
The past two weeks of coronavirus, I think I worked with our whole team till 9:30 at night. I’ve never worked that late with my team. I usually work that late, but my team goes above and beyond for the brands that we work with, especially in times of emergency like this. We’re adding so many more hours to projects and not charging for them. We’re just trying to provide as much value as possible right now.
ROB: Absolutely. A lot of that value in this season is going to be probably going back to some of the diagnosis you’ve already done on customers, and some of it’s going to be figuring out almost testing new ways of doing business. What are you seeing with maybe a customer or two that is finding a new way that they have to do business and actually learning about their customers in the process?
JON: The good thing is our clients right now have been affected a little bit by what’s going on, but I think that every one of our clients is understanding that they need to pay a lot more attention to marketing, to the words that they use, to every detail of everything that they publish.
When people hire us, I’m very OCD. Our team is very OCD. We don’t agree with us doing a Rolls-Royce style brand, logo, and packaging, but your social media looks like crap or your website looks like crap. I think clients are now understanding that the world is evolving to a place that isn’t really trusting right now. The American people, or people around the world, aren’t really trusting the government. They don’t know what’s real, they don’t know what’s fake. They’re not really trusting banks.
So I think 2020, people are going to be taking a step back and they’re going to be thinking about their purchases a little bit more. They’re going to be doing a little bit more research. They’re going to be going from your website to your social media handles to see how you talk. People are wanting to invest in companies that stand for something, that are good people.
I hate to say it, but a lot of businesses right now aren’t being positive on social media and they’re not being the light at the end of a dark tunnel. Customers are judging you. They’re looking at you on what emails you’re sending about the coronavirus, how you’re acting in this type of emergency, because they’re not going to come back and shop with you – if you can’t handle yourself in an emergency, why do you deserve them when times are good?
I think the biggest thing for brands right now is they have to pay attention to the details. I think for the agency world, the marketing agency industry and world is going to skyrocket over the next couple of months. We’re looking at our sales forecasting, and it’s not even about revenue for us. It’s about the lives of our clients that we can change, and every client that we work with, they have hundreds if not thousands or millions of customers. So when we provide value to our one client, it’s almost like we just impacted 10 million people.
ROB: It’s a good point you make that we’re moving into a slightly longer buyer journey, in some cases because of trust and I think in other cases because we just can’t get things as fast as we’re used to and we don’t need them as fast as we’re used to. You order from Amazon Prime and it’s not two days anymore sometimes. Sometimes it’s four. You order from Instacart, sometimes you can’t get an appointment for over a week. We’re not as impulsive and the economy is not as booming, so people are going to think, and it’s great that they’re going to be able to think about and trust you.
If we rewind that journey a little bit, how did you come to start Avintiv Media in the first place? What led you to the beginning of this journey?
JON: Great question. I think most agency owners that would listen to this can agree – I kind of fell into it. I didn’t plan on starting an agency. At the time, my background was consulting. I was in the bar and restaurant industry for a number of years, owned different establishments, was in event planning and event marketing. I owned a consulting firm. Then I got into ecommerce for a little bit.
When I started Avintiv, I had an ecommerce clothing company that was booming at the time, and I kept hiring web developers and I kept hiring agencies to do Facebook ads and work on our marketing for us because even though I’m self-taught, being the CEO of a startup, you can’t manage all aspects of everything. So I kept outsourcing it to different agencies, different people.
Every developer I hired fell short of what I wanted, and then they wanted more money, they wanted more money. Then they took my website and threatened to not give the website back if we didn’t pay an absurd fee. I just got sick and tired of being screwed over. The agencies that we were hiring – and I’m sure anyone that ran Facebook ads a couple years ago – there’s a couple different settings on the Facebook ad ROIs you can click. One of them shows, “if this many people go to this landing page or add to cart, that’s what the total would be.” Our agencies were acting as if those were our revenue numbers, and I didn’t catch on for a couple of months because I was running at the speed of light.
My accountant told me, “Dude, you’re not doing as much revenue as this agency is making it seem, and you’re not even profitable working with these guys.” I used two agencies, and both of them were not as truthful as I would’ve liked them to be. I kept having people reach out to me about a year after that like, “Hey, who did your logo? Who did your website? Who’s running your social media?” I was doing everything. I taught myself web development. I taught myself videography. My background was social media, so I had that on lockdown.
People kept reaching out to me, and I said, wow, there must be a need in the marketplace for offering these types of services that everyone keeps contacting me for. So I started building a couple websites for a couple local brands, and it evolved into I couldn’t take on any more clients because I was at capacity.
We were profitable the first week we launched the agency, and it evolved into being what it is today with having a full team and phenomenal clients. We’re hitting our 4 years in April next month, and it’s kind of like an out-of-body experience. I realized in this journey, I don’t have a passion for building my own brands and selling my own products and launching – I owned a couple CBD brands last year. I don’t have a passion for building my own thing. I have a passion for changing other people’s lives.
I’ve been a coach and consultant; I love changing an entrepreneur’s life. I love giving them a phenomenal experience. That’s why I love Avintiv so much, because we are so passionate about building other people’s brands that change the world.
We’re working with a local health and wellness clinic in Scottsdale that’s actually a very big clinic, and he is one of the most talented doctors I’ve ever met in 31 years of my life, doing holistic type of medicine, IV drips, Botox – a variety of different things. He has a new, modern way of doing medicine, and the amount of lives this guy is going to change just by us being able to redo his branding, his website, and sending him in a different direction – that’s what gives me fuel to keep growing the agency. But if it was me just selling my own products and trying to get rich and things like that, I don’t have a passion for that.
ROB: It’s hard to come across as genuine with a passion for that because it seems like you’re serving yourself maybe more than your clients. How did you come to find this particular resonance with startups? Were you tapped into a vein locally? Is there a regional connection? Or do you think it’s just a natural resonance with who you are and that brand building connection?
JON: When I started my clothing company before I sold it, I posted my whole journey on Instagram, on social media. I’m talking about our first initial designs 6-7 years ago, and then our first warehouse, and people saw me use my living room as my warehouse, and then we got a bigger warehouse. So I’ve been sharing my journey for a number of years.
But not only that, any industry I’ve been in, I’m blessed to be I guess you could say a social butterfly. No matter what city I live in or where I’m at, I’m able to meet the who’s who that runs that city, become friends with them. I’m a likeable guy. I’m someone that doesn’t screw anyone over. I have a lot of friends.
I think that has helped me build a good amount of following and people that pay attention to me, along with press releases or certain things. I think it’s just a combination of who I am and the journey of me sharing my journey. People have seen how many startups I’ve built or have consulted, or people ask around town, “Hey, I have this new company idea. Who’s the best person in town I could ask?”, and 9 times out of 10, people send them my way.
ROB: As a social butterfly, I’m sure there’s a certain extent to which you have also engaged with other social butterflies. How are you finding to connect and scratch that itch in this season we’re in, where you’re probably not getting together with people you don’t know?
JON: To be honest, if you look on my Instagram page or any public stuff that’s out there of me, it probably looks like I’m the life of networking, going out – not partying, but being out and about and socializing. I am such an introvert. I’m standing, as I’m talking to you, at my bookshelf right now. Being locked in, reading books and working, I don’t think I could be happier right now.
Yeah, it’s a little weird not going out, but I honestly think it’s a little bit easier to connect with people right now. I have a lot of “celebrity influencer” friends that are in LA that it might take them a week or two weeks to text back or to get back. I’m talking to people I haven’t talked to in years or months. I’m talking to my family more than ever.
So I think what’s going on with us all being locked in, I think people are more accessible. I’m hopping on so many free consultation calls and discovery calls that I would usually charge a pretty high rate for just because I have extra time on my hands. I’m not traveling to the office, I’m not traveling to the gym, so why not provide more value?
I know a lot of friends or people of that nature, influencers in LA, New York, Miami, they’re doing the same thing. And these are guys who charge a couple thousand dollars an hour, and they’re hopping on tons of free webinars, they’re hopping on free Zoom calls. I think it’s a really cool thing, what’s going on right now. All of us are trying to just be there for people that are scared and don’t know where to turn.
ROB: That’s perfect. It’s such a great time to give and to build trust – not that it isn’t always time to build trust. Jon, as you look back, what are a couple things you’ve learned from building Avintiv in these 4 years that you would do differently if you were starting from scratch?
JON: A couple of different things. Before I started Avintiv, I wish I would’ve understood the accounting and financial realm a little bit better. I always thought that having the best accountants, they would fix everything. I ran into a bad experience about 5 or 6 years ago when one of my accountants was going through chemo and had cancer and actually dropped the ball with a couple of things, and I didn’t notice it because I didn’t know it as well as I should have.
So understanding the fundamentals of business – not per industry or what type of business, but just understanding accounting and business from a financial aspect. That’s one of the things.
Two, from an agency standpoint, I probably would’ve niched down immediately. Although I did, but the niche I chose was more fitness and fitness product realm, and there’s not a lot of money in the fitness industry, as much as people might portray that. So I would’ve definitely niched down in the beginning, and I might’ve only launched one service.
If I had to start over or if Avintiv sells down the road one day and I had to redo the agency realm, I would probably launch three individual brands. I would start with SEO. I would build a multiple 6-figure per month MRR SEO agency. I would then build a web design agency, and then I would build a branding agency. All three have different managers that run the businesses, all internal team members, and we outsource in between the companies. I would run each individual solely.
When you’re running your advertising and your lead gen for each of those businesses, you don’t have to talk about web design or branding. You talk about SEO. It’s simply SEO and content. So I would have three individual brands that basically live in the same ecosystem, but to the general public, they don’t.
ROB: Right, so to the general public, it wouldn’t be a white label pass through. It would be a partnership to the world?
ROB: Got it. What’s next for Avintiv? What are you looking forward to? What do you think we should be looking to in the marketing world as we’re looking ahead?
JON: Oh man. What’s next for Avintiv is, now seeing how busy everything is going to be, I definitely think that we’re able to double in size and double in revenue this year. We might be going remote for the next couple of months just because it doesn’t make sense having expensive office space when our city isn’t even letting us operate out of our office. So we might be going remote for a couple of months. But I would like to scale the team up to about 15 in-house employees, a little bit bigger office space this year, and be the go-to for building startups and rebuilding brands that are hitting a plateau.
2020 is the first year that Avintiv has been my only company and my only focus. I had a lot of different fires out there in 2019. I owned a couple CBD brands, I was in the credit card processing space, and the opportunity cost that hit me – I was so passionate about helping these other brands grow that I got equity plays and equity pieces. It took my eye off the ball. So 2020 is honestly the first year since we’ve launched Avintiv where it is my only and sole focus.
If we’ve grown this far in 4 years and it’s only been 25% or 30% of what I do day to day, I’m pretty excited to see what 100% looks like.
ROB: Wow. A lot of times when we have our hand in too many things, it becomes very difficult to find that margin and time to reflect and really gather the confidence that you’ve got to do something else, you have to change how you’re doing things.
How did you find that margin to realize the things you needed to cut out of your own world, the things you were more passionate and less passionate about, and focus solely on Avintiv?
JON: I go through phases of cycles of what books I read and what coaches I hire. I had an out-of-body experience towards the end of 2019 and towards the beginning of 2020, and I just found out that I had too much – and I never usually have anxiety or stress. I live in a stressful environment doing what I do, but I never usually let it get to me. It started to get to me a little bit, and I said, what the heck is going on in my life that I can’t really control – all of a sudden I’m having anxiety on a Monday or a Tuesday?
I started to realize I was waking up and I was consulting for a financial client, and then I was running a CBD company, and then I was an agency owner, and then I was consulting on SEO and content. I was too many people in a given day where I’d come home – at the time I was in a relationship, and then I had to play boyfriend, or son. There was no time for me to sit back and just be Jon. I was 15 or 20 different people to so many different people, and I was filling so many other people’s cups versus my own. I was taking care of everyone’s needs but my own.
ROB: Sometimes we do need that sort of break. If I look back to your ideal customers, I think one challenge people often find themselves in is when you’re looking at startups, how do you qualify the ones who are good clients, and how do you qualify the ones that are going to have you do a bunch of work and not pay you? How do you think about discernment when it comes to the startup world?
JON: Great question. We’ve run into some payment issues with the CBD industry, but now, going through that – and it pays to have a great collections agency and a great legal team behind your back. We’re pretty protected when it comes to that. But we have a pretty good and robust discovery and consultation process where we can smell bull from a mile away. I’ve been doing this for so long where I trained my team to ask certain questions.
And it’s not that we don’t want to help startups that don’t have the funding or don’t have the money, but we will be doing a disservice to you if you don’t pay for what our services are worth because our team is going to resent working for you, we’re not going to be able to profit or be able to pay for things.
So at the end of the day, we don’t usually work with people that don’t have funding or they can’t cope with money just because, even though it’s not a business transaction, it has to be a win-win scenario. It can’t be a win-lose scenario where we feel so bad for the startup and this entrepreneur because he or she is such a good person that we’re going to discount our services 50% so they win. That is going to be a loss for us. It always has to be a win-win.
We always tell our clients we want it to be a win-win-win scenario. All of our clients that we help are B2C, the majority of them. So if we help our clients succeed and we make our customers happy, those are two wins. And if those two people are happy, that equals a win for Avintiv. So we are in the win-win-win type of business.
We just brought on a startup a month ago, and he’s a very successful pilot. We can see that if someone has already had a career for 25 years or 20 years and they make a really good living, that shows us that there’s probably capital that backs them. They went through schooling. Being a pilot is a rigorous checks and balances. They have a crazy amount of processes. So that would fit in line with how we run our agency.
Now, if someone hasn’t been employed for 10 or 15 years and they’ve had a couple startups that have failed, this is a new great idea that’s going to take over the world, but they talk about crazy things like “This is the next billion dollar idea! I want to create this and sell it in two years for $5 million!”, like half the CBD startups out there right now, we won’t work with them. The expectations that they’ve fed into their head are not real, and I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news to tell them that there’s no Santa Claus.
Everyone thinks “because this company sold for X” or “Elon Musk created this,” that it’s possible for anyone. I’m never the guy that’s going to kill someone’s dreams or say you can’t do anything; I’m actually the guy that thinks anyone can do anything if they believe in themselves. But we’re not going to go along on the ride if you’re going to be dragging us through the mud with you because we’re just not at that place anymore.
Maybe 4-5 years ago, we would’ve tested the waters. But we have a big enough clientele and portfolio and case studies now where we are very choosy with who we work with. We can pick and choose very easily, and we turn down clients left and right. If it’s not going to be a win-win-win, we’re not going to work with you because you’re going to be mad at us, we’re going to be mad at you, and it’s just going to create resentment.
ROB: It almost sounds like a hiring decision.
JON: Oh, one hundred percent. It’s funny when clients are on a discovery call or consultation call and they think that they’re interviewing us, and when the roles get reversed and we start interviewing them, they’re like, “Wait a second. What’s going on here?”
It’s like, we only take on X amount of clients per quarter, projects of this size. We want to make sure that our whole team would enjoy working on your project. It’s not about revenue or profit for us. If our creative team is going to be bored out of their mind working on this project, we’re not going to do it because that is going to stunt their growth for every other project they work on. So we are so careful with who we work with.
ROB: Perfect. Jon, when people want to find you and want to find Avintiv Media, where should they go?
JON: You can go to www.avintivmedia.com. Otherwise, our Instagram handle is @AvintivMedia. Otherwise, I am mainly on Instagram @JonBoles. It’s got a little verified checkmark next to it, so it’s pretty easy to find.
ROB: That’s a solid move there. Jon, thank you for coming on the podcast. Looking forward to that doubling growth here in 2020.
JON: Thank you so much for having me. Hopefully I was able to provide a little bit of value to you guys.
ROB: I definitely think so. Take care.
Thank you for listening. The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast is presented by Converge. Converge helps digital marketing agencies and brands automate their reporting so they can be more profitable, accurate, and responsive. To learn more about how Converge can automate your marketing reporting, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit us on the web at convergehq.com.