The Lucky Titan

Bootstrapping from idea to 7 figures with a growth agency With Jim Huffman

January 27, 2021
The Lucky Titan
Bootstrapping from idea to 7 figures with a growth agency With Jim Huffman
The Lucky Titan
Bootstrapping from idea to 7 figures with a growth agency With Jim Huffman
Jan 27, 2021

CEO of GrowthHit, a growth marketing consultancy. Author of the Amazon best seller, The Growth Marketer's Playbook, a book that pushed Seth Godin off the #1 spot for 72 hours.) Grown two startups from idea to $10M in sales. Spent over $4M on Facebook ads. Startup mentor at Techstars, General Assembly, and Sephora Accelerator. International speaker that's lead growth workshops at Fortune 500 brands including FedEx, Hot Wheels, Intuit, Sephora, OREO and more.

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Show Notes Transcript

CEO of GrowthHit, a growth marketing consultancy. Author of the Amazon best seller, The Growth Marketer's Playbook, a book that pushed Seth Godin off the #1 spot for 72 hours.) Grown two startups from idea to $10M in sales. Spent over $4M on Facebook ads. Startup mentor at Techstars, General Assembly, and Sephora Accelerator. International speaker that's lead growth workshops at Fortune 500 brands including FedEx, Hot Wheels, Intuit, Sephora, OREO and more.

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Josh: What is up everybody, Josh Tapp here again and welcome back to The Lucky titan podcast and today we are here with Jim Huffman the CEO and founder of growth hit which is an amazing  agency that helps people from the top to the bottom of their funnel and helping them to scale so the best part about this interview, the part that I am excited about is that Jim has actually scale 2 companies past 10 million dollar in sales I mean its pretty difficult to do that one time but doing it twice has prove concept, he knows what’s he’s talking about so Jim I am excited to have you here Man and say what’s up to everybody and we’ll hop in. 

Jim: yea, Josh thanks for having me I am excited to be here 

Josh: gonna be great so Jim I know we talk about this in the pre-interview but I’d like to kind of pre-frame this interview with a question and put you kind in the shoes of our ideal listeners, the people who’s listening to this saying okay I am stuck at 7 figures I don’t really know what do to I should scale or should I start a new company and I wanna put you in their shoes and say okay, if you owe me like 50,000$ dollars left in that million you made and you had to start over again in the B2C space selling to customers, how would you build your business or what would you build (1:13) 

Jim: gotcha. So the B2C space not the B2B space 

Josh: yea 

Jim: alright. That is interesting so if I am in to b2c space and if we talk about speed let’s go real quick, first I would give myself a lead to do it, to do to validation experiment and like where are their consumer that have a specific paint point so let’s actually try so solve a product problem let’s make up a pain killer not a vitamin I would do that through using Google keyword planner see what phrases people are searching for or I’ll be going to Facebook groups to ready community and desert mining for problems out there and let’s find the problem around I don’t know and by the way I think the more specific the better let not try win the massive let’s try to win a very, very small niche so let’s go for like acne skin care or people have a certain race or demographic  and say that’s it the next thing I would do it because at times essence the fastest thing you can do is not like build a product, build a website do lot of stuff I literally start a community or I’d start some sort of newsletter content source on in to build it up on the back end I would let’s go drop ship model let’s go with white labeling a product coz if we start doing our ENDM product development is gonna take forever so let’s find something lets them do more of like a branding play where it solve their problem let’s make specific for them so I’ve got a building community one in for getting the product, the third thing I would do is we need to engineer funnel that’s ideal for them or we can actually get a conversion I actually do like a quiz or I play plug in tight form into Shopify and I would make it 3-5 question to make it all benefit focus on problem work solving and at the very end I am serving at the product that sale for them like a one product Shopify side and because we want to have strong LTE life time value I would even go for subscription model where I’d even use that money just to free trial so the best marketing hack out there is giving step away for free assuming you can monetize it on the back end like looking like the subscription model you need to be a hairy or trio logy or they’re giving products way for free but then you can monetize so that’s like pumped in the money into assuming we can keep them retain with the community engagement the retention strategy with email marketing and it’s a fairly quality products so that would be like gone to my head I had to stand up B2C model I go to the niches, I go community base marketing and launch in the back of the flagship product like solving a problem they use validated through mining data and through communities and Google keyword planner (4:06)

Josh: see and I love that because the strategy you are talking about its sounds like this huge really hard thing, but you are basically saying in the market research find what they want and present it to them in a sexy way (4:180

Jim: yea and it’s like how many times were not you know were talking at people, we are not speaking with them but if you truly know the problem, they have written in the page copy developing a product it’s so much easier when you start with the person or community first (4:38)

Josh: yea hundred percent and you know guys you are over a growth you have experienced both B2B and B2C and you know starting up an agency model how is that different is it very similar or you find out it is very different as far as finding the customer research and everything (4:57)

Jim: actually agency like B2B is more easier doing a service type of business coz like you and I could go on LinkedIn and be like hey we’ve got a zoom agency and boom have an agency and I bet like we we’re talking about networks not that I have a big network, we probably close a client it’s part the easiest business to stand up which means we’ve got a lot of competition but the more you cannot be in generalist the more you are able to know exactly who you’re serving the exact product offering you’re giving that’s where for you can become a specialist, that’s you can raise your rates so for me I was doing it all and no agency experience until I started this one I was lucky in that and I stumbled into having a niche then it was I was working 3 different start-ups I was working in a couple of venture capital forms and their founder they need help with growth so I started off where the specialty was in the face of like cycle company that’s where you have cool idea you have some attraction you are on the cost of product market fed and trying to go to that next level we launch on working in that sweets spot which is good and bad because if you can find a home run right before they are about to take that swing you will look like a genius from a marketing perspective  coz you're just kind of putting in some of the or what I think a  common things that they should do and then you actually get all this credit for them honestly having an amazing product or service because they could use from the similar thing to someone that generally apply market fed and it would flop so that's where we launch what's in that phase, where we've kind of gone to be still do that phase one on the something we are super excited about but also like we call that to validate phase and then at the growth phase we're like hey we are making money, we are making profit how do we go to the next level that’s also where we play coz that’s pretty fun and that’s where usually come in a bigger budget do we can do some fun things like get our developers and designers involved and spend more money on acquisition (7:07) 

Josh: yea and that’s such a funny moral that you bring out to and it’s funny you are saying that’s the reason why our agency done so well because it’s really easy to get case studies and success when there are ready the companies are working for this huge trajectory already you are hoping in like you said right they swing helping enhance the process of course but then there’s results become your results so I love that and you would say what would be easier to start an agency and then like an Amazon shop for example (7:41)

Jim: I think so ‘coz  you following need a website to start an agency and I mean we call ourselves a consultant or an agency you can do that quite quickly the big issue is a game of pricing and scale right becasue where you run into issue as an agency is when you started doing a lot one of custom work because I require deep thinking and kind of you know rebuilding, we inventing a wheel  every time but when you can have a fix scope or  like okay we just do Facebook ads, we just do you know on sight experiments, we just do email marketing then you are able to create scale set that are repeatable to different clients and it allows you to develop really deep knowledge and something and so you know at the end of the game is a business something you are looking for leverage to scale something and leverage can come form of people, it can come in a form of money or come in  a form of like a SAS product with technology so in the agency game it's definitely people, so it's you know can you create people or like SOW so people can replace you do the work you are doing that's where you can really start to growth it but so I went to that issue of I was doing everything out of the gate and so hard to fire myself and just in the past year and a half have I am be able to do that and then it wasn't easy, it's very painful but we are on the other side of that finally (9:16)

Josh: it's very, very hard to hand off to somebody else and just trust that they are going to do it I think, that's my big problem when we automate any piece it’s just you know you're like please do your best, I trust you but do your best to provide a result for, I love that, so Jim when it comes to, you building a B2B business and finding clients and everything what have you found to be kind of your best strategy for attracting clients in the B2B space (9:52)

Jim: yea hands down like let’s say starting today or like what I would do the first thing you need to do is before you even get introduced to a potential lead prospect or client you need to make sure one of the first impressions is you as a tough leader like we definitely got a client from you know advertisements, though gone clients from partnerships but if their first impression is of you  like trying to solve a problem they have a need and you offer them value  to the form of media presentation you did, video you did or blog post you wrote that is the best introduction and so that is what we do like before we talk  to someone if it didn’t come to our piece of content we actually send them video of us talking doing a talk or give them something that we’ve written that way before they talk to us there are already viewing us as stock leader in this space because the more you can do that is they are looking you as a decision maker or order taker the better it’s going to be to get by and eventually get them as a client coz when you are going at it from a competitive perspective or competing with all these other agencies or the pricing game then it’s a little tougher to win deals on a repeatable way but if they are coming to you because of your frame works because of you know your approach to a certain problem that’s the camp wanna be in so absolutely invest in whatever content marketing if that is a YouTube Chanel, if it’s  having a made up channel or a made up community and doing Facebook group or maybe you are doing email newsletter whatever is your weapon of choice when it comes to some content marketing I would absolutely invest in that (11:40)

Josh: yea and I love that because I mean the content marketing is one that — it’s kinda long term play so people are like I don’t wanna do it but we need them seeing with some of the clients we’ve worked with when they put one or two break pieces of content out I mean the results are immediate they are saying 4 to 8 per piece of content like that’s what I think you kinda proven hey I am a tough leader, I am willing to step in into step in to the role of tough leader I guess so (12:14)

Jim: I would say I totally agree made a good point that content marketing is exhausting it’s like I go to write a blog post or record a video in addition to actually running this company so what I would challenge someone to do is like ask yourself a question what is the buy product of your day to day job, of you getting results for client or whatever coz there’s content in that like showing your work is the best type of content that not a lot of people are doing and it’s a very low left like I do an email newsletter where I literally send out 5 things I read that week coz I am already reading and also let me read for this and this newsletter and it’s a very easy list but that’s buy product to make content marketing and that actually like one of my best ways to require customer so I would kind of I totally agree with content marketing annoying and done thing  so what’s your buy product and how can you make that your content marketing strategy (13:09)

Josh: yea I love that because I mean you are taking about, I can’t remember where it was, they heard this but it’s selling your Sona’s right it’s saying hey I already building furniture I might myself sell a Sona’s right (13:22)

Jim: exactly right yea I love it (13:24)

Josh: I am reading books already I might as well do it I am an avid consumer of podcast as well avid producer of podcast and I mean for me you just give me an idea I am totally do it on a newsletter because I’ve been getting kind of burnout on content, making so much content I like to put in here and I love that really (13:43)

Jim: I would love an email newsletter or someone like hey Jim you’re into like start up and business entrepreneurship here the top 5 podcast episode to listen to every week I am waiting for someone to make the best email newsletter but don’t probably exist but I don’t know about it but there you go, if you did that I’d sign up, you got 1 subscriber (14:00)

Josh: that 1 subscriber — that’s spectacular my brain is going on distracting the conversation here so let me ask you this Jim when it comes to you know building content I think a lot of people like you said it’s done thing task but where have you found I guess inspiration and the best places to actually build content coz I mean you could put a lot of video content out there right there people who post a video every single day and won’t get any attraction and podcast we are notorious for this right because we make a post every single day about a podcast, we post an episode, we post a follow up something and they don’t get a lot of attraction right it’s so what makes the good content to a great content (14:51)

Jim: yea that’s a good one I think we’ll first it’s like you know what is your programming type and it’s something that is unique right coz if you go to will go back to the 90s it’s all go to MTV and you’ve seen music videos if you go ESPN you see highlights you go to the history channel you see documentary the things that’s nice is you know what you are tuning in to so you need to be very intentional in like what is my form of programming am I showing my work and it’s like here’s behind the scene it’s how I do stuff, am I showing the best case study so I have the best interview do I have like the best tactics so first like what is your programming, is it enough to actually stand up and get shares to get engagement so have a really like in be critical on what you are doing but also test things I test all different types of content and I’ve learned that when I actually pull back the curtain and I showed what exactly we are doing as an agency and give numbers and personal dates that add up performance tactics and case studies 10x  and so that’s the first thing like what’s the type of programming, the second thing is who you trying to speak to and what Chanel’s are they and how can you reach them right so we’ve also been doing some experiment like with us, we are going after or CMO’s, founder, entrepreneurs  you know so we’re playing around of Twitter, with LinkedIn a little bit of podcast like Facebook and Instagram and that stuff what we found is like different channels perform a different levels and actually LinkedIn is one of the best thing for us I really want Twitter to work and it’s been okay but like I wanna say LinkedIn not paid but organic and so it’s like building up our network and actually having real conversations  and just like doing a post, like a blog post is like figuring type of programming and then like going all out on there but also here’s the thing in like really well content marketing half of it is making a content the other half is actually just distributing it and creating engagement I got a repost on were tagging people and asking people on select communities to like to engage to comment and that’s half of the battle and so I almost want to position like we’re are looking to get someone  that just as community engagement just to kind of drive and push it out there so for me that’s kind of what I am thinking through and I actually who’s the CMO of drip he think of it as you know reality TV for business for showing behind the scene of what you are doing and just always like posting that content but he does a fantastic job of that but that’s how I kind think through it (17:42)

Josh: yea and I love that because you even told me you’re not a content specialist but that was part of so you guys really, you guys focus really heavily on you on your ads and on a funnel side of things so I wanna kind of change directions with conversational but to ask you kind of like your process that you and maybe some action steps for the people here to either check their campaigns or check their funnel to assure that it's working (18:15)

Jim: yea for sure I think so let’s start with the angle in mind so what is your goal of your B2B company maybe on your website it’s getting them on a sales call it’s getting them on a book that sales call or maybe go to pricing page and checkout whatever that is so it's like okay what is our main goal the thing that I think we win a stake sometimes is we try and go for a jugular little too quick you know asking for the their hand and so it’s what’s the end goal, what are the potential steps to get to that and so here’s the thing you need to look at it’s like take your customers, take your top clients so once like converted what’s something that happened earlier in the journey with the funnel, kinda collect I like these guys I like this girl I think I’m gonna convert whatever that is and so how can you optimize for that earlier and journey you know like so with us, it’s we have actually specific pieces of content  if we can get in front of them we’ll get their attention and if they have the budget we feel very confident that if they see the content and then we can talk to on the call it’s gonna, our conversion goes up significantly so it’s optimizing to get to that piece of content and the other thing is like the best marketing hack is quite easy it is if you get step away from free your conversion rate is gonna be insane so what is that free thing you can do like, if you are B2C company, if you are CPG company there’s a reason why all these brands do free trials and free products or free samples it’s because you got it to them if there’s a high repeat purchase and your product is any good it’s gonna work well so what is that for B2B or for SAS so if your actual product like a SAS product, up cussed to this study that you know when you do a free trial that is best acquisition strategy coz 30% of people they get the free trial only 30% even know what the product is they’re 70% and they still don’t know like what they’ve got into but they sold it for free and jumped in so what is that for a consulting business like if I was starting today I would do fee work like how I get my first 5 clients I did free work and I made sure it was so good  that if I win, like wait, wait stay we’ll pay for it so we’ll do free audit, we do free strategy calls and so that something I would think though if that’s your secret sauce don’t optimize your funnel for going for the jugular, optimize your funnel for getting them for that irresistible offer that evolves doing something free or giving them access to something coz we have a cycle called funnel turn down that we break that down and taking a step back and really pains me coz I see so many cool products and ideas out there that I think people would love but the funnel has it design the right way to get them in to that experience they have created that irresistible offer to get people activate right now coz everybody is busy, like let’s call product but I don’t have time if you have an amazing offer you’re gonna make time and you can convert right there on the spot (21:18)

Josh: Yeah that's I mean, that’s such an awesome insight there I mean being giving away free thing I know  for us we've done way we’ve grown our email list is giving away free things right you do give away with 4 – 5 other business you know and each of you promotes email list or email grow together right there’s a lot of really big value in giving away for free and like you said I mean the content is just it increases so let me ask you this though what point would you stop giving away free services or would recommend that every single with the client (21:52)

Jim: yea what I did is just like validate into like build up my book business and then once like okay let's get into the profitability game that's what it kind of flips over so I would do it two ways one is you could still give away free services but you want to put a filter in mechanism in place so make sure you read out the right clients like so for  example we will still do free audits  and strategy calls however it's on the back end of our ABM or come base marketing strategy where we have to make sure website has a certain amount of funding, certain amount of traffic and then we'll be willing to do for coz we know if we invest time in it the ROI will definitely there so it's almost like you don’t have to say stop doing it but you need to create a better filtering process to do it or you could build up a way less where you remove it completely so it totally depends on have you built up that book of business to get you to their financial point that you want then you can make that business decision to pull it off (22:57)

Josh: yeah I love that response well you know Jim we coming to the end of the interview here that I like to ask you couple of final questions here so the first one is how can people connect with you and what you guys are doing over a growth hit. (23:10) 

Jim: yea for sure so I’m just, come check us out the one that’s wanting to do like experiment on our side or Ads or Email all around and I am also in Twitter @jimwhuffman I post business stuff on occasional I am around (23:31) 

Josh: awesome so make sure you guys go check that out I mean is really where it seems like everything you have is on there or email him at, so Jim I really appreciate you coming and showing that so I wanna ask you one final question so you know, we’ve cover a lot of different topics in this interview and my question for you is if you could leave one final parting piece of guidance for the audience saying hey, like it is the one thing that you could take away from this interview what would that be (24:00)

Jim: yea I think it’s have a bias towards action and whatever you are doing coz I don't know I guilty of like sitting by the computer and like thinking of ideas putting it in every note and like thinking I’m productive but honestly like no one is seeing that so I say bias versus action is like put something out there, show your work whether it is like a simple tweet or an email or an experiment those little win and that have a bias towards action they can compound and have  a big impact (24:37)