In this Agency Success Interview, I chat with Matt Zivkovic from Lead Smart, Inc. We talk about how he was able to transform his agency and take it from about $50,000 to over $150,000 in monthly recurring revenue—for the past 12 months. In this episode, we unpack the shifts he made to get this type of accelerated growth and continuous momentum. You don’t want to miss it!
Outline of This Episode
- [1:37] How Matt founded and grew Lead Smart
- [11:49] The Lead Smart business model
- [20:07] Average dollar per lead for an affiliate
- [26:08] How to become an affiliate with Lead Smart
- [28:15] The most profitable verticals to niche in
- [31:46] How to generate quick wins for your clients
- [43:43] Landing clients: at the beginning vs. now
- [48:19] Matt shares some of his favorite resources
How Matt transformed his agency
Matt launched Lead Smart in 2008 and strictly offered SEO in the beginning and charged fees based on the results. Matt had a great thing going—a two-story office building with a sauna, workout room, foosball table, and all the bells and whistles. Then the Google Panda and Penguin updates smashed their strategy to pieces. Matt had to lose the brick-and-mortar and completely restructure his business.
When Matt connected with Seven Figure Agency1, he had a business model that was working but hadn’t niched down. So he chose a niche, launched an affiliate program, redid his entire website, sold a course, and started a private Facebook group. Now he has 350+ affiliates registered with Lead Smart. So how does the monetization method work? How does his team fulfill leads? Keep listening to find out!
Entrepreneurs must recognize that success isn’t always linear
During the interview, Matt points out that they’d probably be making north of $200,000 a month in recurring revenue if it wasn’t for the impact of COVID. Which brought us to our next discussion: so often we think that once we reach success that we will continue our upward momentum. But the truth is that the highs don’t last forever—you will always deal with lows. If you’re not prepared to make it through those lows, it can ruin you. You have to embrace a “this too shall pass” mentality.
You NEED to remain even-keeled through the highs and lows, focus on where you’re going, and the outcome you’re striving toward. Allow yourself to enjoy the journey and control what you can control. You know you have the tools to come back from your lows. It’s similar to boxing—you know when you put yourself in the ring, you will get hit. Failure is the cost of success. There will always be opportunities to pivot, regroup, and continue forward.
How to generate ‘quick wins’ for your clients
In the SEO world, generating results takes time. But often clients expect quick wins. If you can find a way to generate some results in the first 2–3 weeks they’re likely to stick with your agency longer. So Matt recommends a few quick ways to gain some traction that you wouldn’t expect:
- Craigslist: You can purchase an ad on Craigslist for as little as $5 for 30 days. Though it isn’t popular anymore, he guarantees a call or two.
- Facebook Marketplace: Though they say you can’t post services, you’ll see people who can get around it in nearly every group. So model their success. The worst that can happen is they take your post down. Plus—it’s free!
- Letgo: Similar to Facebook Marketplace, you can offer things up for free. Most people will message for a quote and you simply give them the number to call.
Matt goes on to share a couple more ideas to generate quick wins, as well as some great resources. Keep listening for his valuable insight.
How Matt recommends landing your first clients
Matt landed his first few clients through hard work: cold-calling. Everyone hates it, but it generates results. Matt prefers something a little less antiquated now—contact form marketing. If you’re lucky, email marketing gets a 5% open-rate. With contact form marketing, you’re likely to get a 90% open-rate. Websites are more likely to open contact forms because it has the potential to be a customer. It’s a genius strategy. Matt recommends using GSA Website Contact if you decide to take that route.
Matt also recommends a great way to source a list of targets: Head to your web browser of choice and type in “Electrician Denver Home Advisor”. Those top 10 results? Or top 25? Those are people who are paying Home Advisor to be higher on that list. It demonstrates their willingness to spend money to get results.
Listen to the whole episode to hear some niches Matt recommends looking into, software and apps he uses, how to become an affiliate with them, and some final words of wisdom!
Resources & People Mentioned
- Ring Partner
- Home Advisor
- Digitech Outsourcing
- City Page Pro Software
- GSA Website Contact
- BOOK: Think BIG and Kick Ass in Business and Life
- BOOK: Think and Grow Rich
- Neil Patel
Connect with Matt Zivkovic
Connect With Josh Nelson
- Josh’s Coaching Page on Facebook
- The Agency Success Facebook Group
- Seven Figure Agency on YouTube
- Josh on Twitter: @joshnelsonimc
- Josh on LinkedIn
If you’d like to get more ideas & strategies for growing your digital marketing agency, I’d like to invite you to join my Facebook Group. Connect with me and 1300+ other digital marketing agency owners. To Join The Facebook Group click here – https://www.sevenfigureagency.com/group.
#mindset #business #entrepreneur #success #digitalmarketing #marketing
This is the seven figure agency podcast, discover the strategies and techniques to grow a highly successful and profitable digital marketing agency with your host, Josh Nelson. All right, What’s up, everybody? Thank you so much for joining us on this special session of the agency success Podcast, where we’re interviewing successful digital marketing agencies from across the country. And today, I could not be more excited to be interviewing Matt zip Kovac from lead smart. He was part of our program about a year ago. So we’re at somewhere in the last 12 months. And you know, he’s had a successful agency over the years, let him tell the story, but you know, basically is gone from where he kind of swelled down to about $50,000 a month in recurring all the way back to over 150,000 over the last 12 months. And so when he was telling me that I was like, Matt, we got to get you on the podcast. I know that your model is a little bit different than the seven figure agency model and everything that we do. But there’s lots of great insights to be gleaned. So without further ado, Matt, thanks so much for joining us today.
Thanks for having me, Josh. Awesome pleasure to be on this. I mean, I couldn’t ask to be a better honor to be on this podcast. So looking forward to share my story. And hopefully I can help inspire others and give you some nuggets of gold to pick on and hope everyone gets something out of this.
Fantastic. So if you’d like to, if you’re excited about this, you’re excited to hear what this journey from 50 to over 150 in less than 12 months smash with a plus I mean, a like in the in the Facebook group. And let me know that we’re on the on the right track. So before we dive in, just kind of give us the give us the lay of the land. Tell us about your agency, number of clients are currently kind of the history and how you got to where you’re at right now.
Sure. So I started way back in 2008. I actually had my first website in 1999. So I’ve been trying to make money off the internet, you know, since I’m 42. So since I was 19. My first dollar ever made actually was from an eBay eBay sale. I was drop shipping camcorders. And that just never left me. And you know, it was an emerging industry. So I kind of got my niche and found where I realized I belonged. In 2008. I launched leap smart, which is lead generation company, our biggest from 2008 to 2016. We were strictly SEO, and we charge instead of charging people for SEO, we charged them on the results because we really had Google dialed in, we were able to get first we had, you know, garage door repair, we had emergency dentist, we had all these major keywords that we were getting, you know, millions of visits from every month and they were free. The work was done up front. And only work that we had was to try to monetize that traffic so finding buyers for it. It was an incredible success. successful run from 2008 to 16. We had a brick and mortar office, I had all my buddies from childhood and college all working together. It’s huge. Two story office with you know, we had a foosball table and sauna workout room. We had a tennis court right next door that. Yeah, it was amazing. It was really amazing. Unfortunately, just like any business and what I really learned that my first boss ever I was selling home security systems, and his name was Marty sanfilippo, Italian guy Jaguar chains everywhere. And when I saw him, I was, oh, man, I want your life. I want to have the Jaguar the business. And he told me no matter what in life, that success looks like this. ups and downs ups and downs, and the people who don’t succeed, it’s up, down and then just straight or whatever comes back
up at all.
Exactly. And so I always knew that and every time I’d have a little bit of success, I couple steps back, and then I slingshot forward a couple steps back. But from 2015 to 2000, end of 2016. The down was so significant. We were doing close to At our peak, we’re doing close to about $200,000 a month. And this was with very little overhead whatsoever, because again, all the work was done on the front end, we built these sites. They crushed it, we monetized it. And we just spent time, you know, kept, you know, basically billing them. And it was very, very lucrative and great. But that there was two updates, the Penguin update and the Panda update, which pretty much squashed our whole strategy sent us back to the dark ages in terms of revenue, and it ended ended up brick and mortar business. I had to unfortunately, you know, lose friends lose business partners, restructure. Luckily, there was enough left, there’s an faint heartbeat, not the left, where I was able to really get that back to life. But when I came to the seven figure agency, I was still down. I was all over the place I had started. I bought a company called Nikki’s you can look them up, it’s a cervical collar. I was like, let me change the game. I’m gonna get back into e commerce. It’s a cervical collar that has a cover We’re on it, it’s meant for people to sleep with instead of, instead of like one of those pillows, it’s a it’s a collar. So my garage was filled with thousands of these things. And it was, I realized I need to I need, I need help. And I had already been following Josh on because he does hbic and plumber, SEO and I knew who he was. And then I found out he had a seven figure agency. Let’s see what this guy’s got to offer. He clearly knows what he’s doing. He’s got a model that’s lasting, and I don’t. So I joined. Um, and I remember your salesperson telling me, you’re at the point where you’re afraid to take a risk again, and it just hit me like a ton of bricks. And I’m like, done, sign up. I’m ready. My model is a little bit different than what Joshua’s program teaches, obviously, and I will go into it a little bit, but I didn’t need that if I had my model I had, I had already things built. I just didn’t realize that I needed to really pick my niche, double down, I become the authority and then just pom pom pom, don’t focus on anything else like that because neck ease and this and that all these crazy stuff I was doing was taking away from my core competency. Just focus, focus focus. So in that year, what I decided was I had realized that I had this enormous book of buyers of clients who bought by lead to me. And I have all these people that I that I know from just SEO from the community that are always asking me to, to help them and I figured why don’t I do an affiliate program because I had a loose based affiliate program with a couple partners. And that’s when I redid my entire website, I created instead of writing a book, for my authority, I created a program that I sold and that really helped I want to write the book. So that’s the next thing to do in terms of creating that brand and creating that well rounded authority. I started private Facebook groups, and I just changed my model and I went from having like four or five loose affiliates to I think right now we have 350 and growing affiliates that are registered with lead smart And what these affiliates are kind of what my model is, is I have all these buyers in the buyers range from direct contractors. And it’s all the Home Improvement space into some medicals like dentists. But we have all these contractors and businesses that buy leads from us. It ranged from the direct contractor to other marketing companies to large marketing companies like Angie’s List or yellow pages. Um, and what I found is that our monetization methods for let’s say, someone who’s just doing affiliate marketing, and they want to build websites and push phone calls, they send calls to lead smart we have what’s called a pin tree, we’ll figure out the best place to sell that need to probe randomly and it happens in an instant. It’s salt sells off to whatever client or buyer contractor and then the the affiliate makes the lion’s share of the of the revenue and we take the difference for facilitating the whole transaction. So we have a nice dashboard and everything is just skyrocketed now. Had COVID not kidding. We were on pace we probably would be we’d probably be doing and I’d say probably would have stood up, we probably be doing north of 200 $225,000 a month.
And with even with COVID, we’re roaring so hard, we’re requested over 150 in May, June is off to a crazy start. I mean, maybe we can push that 175. It’s just we’re back in it. And there’s no slowdown with my model, the way I have it, I have so much more to get. And I just, you know, couldn’t be happier. And we mean, Josh talked a couple weeks ago, going over this. It really was that in your word, you use that pivot moment in my career in my life, and I got goosebumps talking about it, you know, wouldn’t have happened without it. I don’t know. But it happened. And I got I gotta give a lot of credit to you and your agency.
That’s awesome, man. Congratulations. One thing you said that I really like is this whole concept of the ups and the downs right might be hard to see what everybody thinks success goes in a linear way. The reality is, it never does. Right. It goes up and then it drops, and then it comes off and it drops. I think successful people’s ability to deal with those drops and adjust and get focused on where they want to go again, is really the determinant of success or failure. And it sounds like that’s been that’s been big for you in your life and in your business.
Yeah, I think it took me it took me some learning, understanding. I mean, I knew what was happening, what was happening. And I’ve recognized the pattern all the time, when my business is cresting. What’s it right now? Really, I’m preparing myself, What if I lose this? What if I lose this and I have to set myself up so high, at least in my mind that I can absorb losses, I can absorb big losses, I had a loss. Not to get into the weeds about it, but I had to stop using a certain form of marketing for one of my major clients, and it cost me $20,000 a month in revenue and I had to just turn it off like that. But it didn’t even notice it and made this happen. May May 10 or 11th. I had to shut it off. And if I look at my month to month, it was You can’t even see it. But again yeah again I’m preparing myself for the pitfalls because I’ve been there before and that’s the biggest thing when people start making money and I’ve had partners before previous to my second group of partners that I originally started lead smart with that the success room then because when it went away they weren’t they thought it was going to last forever but not a good time when they say good times. There are they say this too shall pass in terms of bad times that is so applicable the good times as well and you have to live with them and tell him just keep keep even keel I think
the other like there was a thought that came to me once because a lot of times when you think about that up and down roller coaster of running an agency or running a business in general, you think, well when it’s up, I’m happy and I’m excited. Life is grand when it’s down. I’m stressed out because the world is coming to an end. I think, you know, your ability to remain even keel even when it feels like that. You know, everything’s burning down to remain even keel and focus on where you’re going. Focus on the outcome really will dictate how smoothly You you move through those crests, and really how much you enjoy the journey.
Totally. So like, you can only control what you can control. And that’s really what you got to focus on. And, you know, you’re, it’s amazing. When you look, when you’ve been down enough times, you’ve come back, it really helps build that faith and you know, you’ve got the tools, it’s like boxing, right, you know, like, you can come back from this, you can get up and keep fighting, but you’re gonna get hit, if you’re gonna put yourself in the ring, you’re gonna get hit. That’s the cost of success, you know, it’s going to be failures
built within it. No doubt. That’s, that’s great. I think it’s great at this moment in time, cuz Some of us have taken some really hard punches with COVID-19. And maybe what happened prior to COVID-19. But you always have the opportunity to pivot focus on where you’re going to go and restructure. So I think that’s a great transition. So just talk to me a little bit about the like the business model you said your niches are, it’s different, but it’s it’s kind of these, the people that generate the leads and kind of plug in into your vast network of lead buyers got to talk to me about the revenue model and kind of how that works in your, in your business. For sure.
So we spent that first, you know, eight years building out those buyers, that was really we have SEO, everyone just cranking out websites like Henry Ford process, and we’re just hitting different niches or niches. And, you know, we’re finding gutter buyers when we’re looking for franchises like it’s easier for us, like a precision garage door or servicemaster, where if we can get in with a franchise, they’ve got multiple locations, and our model is paper pay, you know, they’re paying per call paying per lead, so it’s a little different. You’ve got to be really solid on your lead generation to go that model if you’re not, if you don’t have the ability to generate leads, it’s really difficult and you can end up just spinning your wheels this people will sign up with you all day long for like a very small signup fee and you’re only gonna pay when you get calls. But where do I sign but then you’re left now with the you know you have to fulfill so the model is we try to find buyers that have large reach, we will take a Firefighters in individual city like Chicago, but we they have we have certain criteria, they have to have call centers, they can’t be what we call one guy in the truck respect love those types of guys, but they’re difficult in terms of my model. And I think a lot of models, it’s going to be difficult if they’re not a little more established. And companies that are a little more established understand marketing. So they’ve they’ve spent thousands, millions of dollars on marketing some of these companies so they understand they know, they know what they’re getting. Um, so we’ve been with the previous life of the business, we had built out this really robust buyers network, which really, at this point, we don’t even need any more buyers. Now what the model is just trying to fulfill as many calls as possible. So we’ve got the way it works is I have a very lean team, anything that I can automate, or program I do and I don’t know where that lies with people’s like political beliefs or whatever but I am all for it automating as much as possible. If a computer program can do it, then let the computer preview it’s in the human being connected. at a higher level things so yeah so so much of my business has become automated but my wife helps me part time with intake of affiliates which is really nice to see upstream then we have certain standards it’s there’s some risk dealing with affiliates because they can do illegal things like illegal telemarketing spam emails and I have had to deal with lawsuits and next again downs that I’ve had that has totally straight to me. Um, I have a another longtime employee Caitlin Torres, who right now is working from home, but she she does whatever I asked for her her job changes every three months. So she needs to be very nimble. I’ve got a really great Mars crime reporting mission or who I hired off work maybe few years ago and he’s awesome his game his job will change. Then I have a few other I have a lot of programmers that that that I use a lot but they do their hiring them only when needed,
like project based project based programmers
exactly actually had a new buyer that’s coming on and we needed to coordinate how they’re going to accept the leads and work with their system. So they’re exactly project based. And then I have this this group called Digi Digi source chip. No sir Digi tech outsourcing based out of India. So this this is a little bit different. So I equate, I equate hiring outsourcers very similar to like the construction world where, let’s say you’re remodeling your house, you can hire a general contractor who’s gonna hire out all the subcontractors, the plumber, the roofer, etc. And you just pay him or you can try to project manage yourself, do your own GC and hire a bunch of cells. So with missioner and adore and my other other guys who are my subcontractors, I’m managing directly, mom but moodiness I have all these things need to happen that couldn’t be automated. So moonless is a outsourcing GC. He has a whole team of what you call subcontract outsourcers that work under digitech and I have one point of contact. It used to be just moving this but his company has grown with this model. And so now I have one Denise she was my one point of contact for everything that I do and then they disseminate that to all their people. And it’s phenomenal. I mean, I, it results may vary. I’m very specific and I know exactly what I need. So I’m able to and if it doesn’t require like homework or any interaction, then I’m able to really get a huge value. If you don’t if you think an outsourcer is going to do something for you. You’re gonna lose
in any outsourcing idea, you got to be clear, here’s what I need done. Here’s the actual outcome I’m looking to get. You don’t have that and you just expect someone to step in and do a job. It’s never gonna work out right.
Never Never Never gonna work out. All right. I got kids right in the back. I forgot to close the door.
Take your time. Well says kids running in the back right now. All of us right.
We lose me. I lost your camera screen for a minute. I still hear you though. Okay, hey, all right, right back on track. All right, I’ll use digitech that basically is your kind of your GC that you can say, hey, look, this is what I need done. And they handle the team of people that do the work. Yeah,
absolutely. Because what’s what’s hard to find is this, it’s hard to find good outsourcers. And the few guys that I have left, I’ve gone through I mean, you know, 30 of these guys and girls. So what’s nice with digitech they know my standards, they don’t want to need there’s turnover that’s happening constantly, but they retrain employees, and I never know I have my one point of contact. And that’s it. And then we have our KPIs and metrics that are, you know, showing me they’re doing their job and I mean, I can easily be acknowledged, you know, it’s easy to find if anything’s wrong, and I didn’t tell them they take care of it.
Very cool. So So it sounds like your customer now is the affiliate, you’re out going going out to find people that doing SEO and generating leads, and they need a place to monetize the leads.
Yes, exactly, exactly. We’re our main target or SEO experts that haven’t that are still chasing down clients that might not have a good sales process is like hey, you built all these sites let us take them you can always go try to find you know, if they want to pull us from it and put on a direct line all via but at least they can monetize your websites as they build out so we can be a good, you know, backdrop for them.
Excellent. And then like how does that work? Can you walk me through kind of like how you find those guys? how you want it, how you pay those guys? Can you talk about that at all?
Sure. So So luckily, I’ve got a lot of people who do who refer other SEO guys who say lead smart FOMO I get my best people through referrals without a doubt. I also advertise on like websites called offer vault which is a which is like one of the only place where you can find all of the affiliate offers and pay per call offers and all the network’s on there. So it’s been really good. Um, and you know, just our website places really high value A couple YouTube videos, which I wasn’t doing before a seven figure agency, you know, I just wasn’t doing I was like, I need this checklist checklist, you know, punching that all out. So it’s just an organic, there’s some pain and some organic and it’s a never ending flow. I think we get, you know, anywhere from five anywhere from three to 10 applications a day and when we’re getting much more strictly we’re scrutinizing them much more now after having some lawsuits because of, you know, not scrutinizing as well,
right, because they who knows Wild Wild West, they can generally tell everything generated and can get you in trouble and fire that lead potentially.
Yeah, exactly. And then I can, you know, I have to take it all falls on me because I can’t allow my client to take it. It’s very difficult even with a really good contract with Mali affiliate affiliates. It’s very difficult to sue somebody I cut them off whatever, you know, they we have stipulations if they do something but at the end of the day, you have to take responsibility for your business. You know, and I’ve had but that’s really strange to me. These these couple down, you know, hidden Down, I’ve learned my lesson, tighten the process and we’re only looking for really high quality.
Nice. So what’s what’s Uh, what’s an average dollar per lead for for an affiliate? Depends vertical probably but
yeah so the way it works in the pay per call world is the hitting top offers and most offers are duration based. So attendance in normal reading partner that’s a big most newbies start with a company called Green partner. They accept anyone they have a bunch of offers. They offer don’t perform that well but this is the way it works is there’s offers so let’s say the offer is at home security and they pay you $50 per call, but the call has to be they have to press one and then press five and then beyond for like 240 seconds whatever the cases they need $50 so they’re high price and a lot of affiliates chase it. What ends up happening is they end up sending what I like is earnings per hundred calls is really big for me. It doesn’t matter how much you earn Two calls, how much are you earning over 100 calls. And the difference between lead smart and other pay per call affiliates is that we do a rev share base, and we try it, we will sell the lead for anything if we can’t sell it, if, let’s say our top tier buyers that were maybe selling it for 2530 bucks, because we’re still wholesaling, we have to leave enough margin so painted, we have a lot of other businesses like leads market by business, very few who buy leads from us and then sell them to their clients. So we’re we we are wholesalers. So we’re not getting $75 a lead like what homeadvisor charges or whatever. So let’s say we’re selling a lead for 25 or 30 bucks, we start most of our affiliates off at 60%. And we’ll move all the way up to 80%. So that most affiliates it’s it’s a it’s a good question. Most affiliates come in to it thinking I want the highest dollar. It’s like no you want you want what can get you from an SEO standpoint, the highest volume and the most conversions. So for example, I have an affiliate he’s doing over $10,000 a month just from dumpster rental, he owns a dumpster rental nationwide dumpster rental site. It gets, you know, tons of calls dumpster rent, those are one of our least paying payouts. But he is killing he’s probably getting, you know, three to five bucks a call, but he’s getting you know, 3000 calls, 2500 calls a month, all from one website, and all that it’s all he built this website years ago, and it’s just paying this guy. Phenomenal income. It’s not that easy, though. I don’t wanna make it sound like you can just go throw a nationwide website. You gotta be You got it. It’s not gonna happen overnight, you got to really put a lot of time ever and even even with that said, it’s very, very difficult. I wouldn’t advise anyone to do it unless they had other a real day job because it also could be taken away at any moment. If Google makes another update, which they just did. Luckily, most of my affiliates were fine, but I’ve had some affiliates that crash
appears off the search results and now that $10,000 a month is is on
You have nothing you can do about it and it’s a punch in the gut so so that’s the model um we do have some affiliates that do Facebook marketing and I also you know using the lead ads just me and Josh talked about a really good thing to do if you’re looking to generate leads the lead ads are awesome in the in house so what I do in house for leads we
some my boys we’re building our SEO website so we still build websites as much as we can. We do Facebook ad marketing, and then we’re doing we hit the other sites to like let go and some other we used to do Craigslist heavy but that ended. So that’s our main thing right now is just finding SEO experts what I do a lot proactively, which is work, I go searching for different keywords and I look to see who’s got what, and I try. I find sites that are not monetized. It’s like you’ve got this great site. Why don’t you put a number on there and it’s better But another real quick look at cold outreach sites that I see are placing and not monetized normally.
So your ideal person is someone that maybe has great SEO skills or great paid search skills. Maybe someone that has old websites that they put up, you know, thinking it would turn into a lead generation machine and just kind of let it sit out there and aren’t really monetizing it and helping them figure Okay, well, let’s take the lead to that site generates and pump some revenue from it for you.
Yeah, yeah. I have another example. I had a, I had a guy come and he has a septic tank website. And he couldn’t find it couldn’t find a buy. I know he had a buyer and then he lost the buyer. He’s got this site, it’s got all this traffic, what can I do with it? Give it to me, you know, we’ll monetize it. And it’s been it hasn’t been a huge amount of money from him. But it’s just been a really great way to monetize the site and just put a number on every check every month.
So theoretically, you could set up these sites, get them ranked, get them generating leads, make a little revenue, selling the leads. Through a service like yours lead smart. And then eventually if you wanted to start reaching out to direct customers, and like leased the website to them and or say hey, if you hire my agency services, I’ve got this lead generation coming in. And I’ll do XYZ set up your website, do your su do your pay per click lots of ways you could take that asset and leverage it, you know, outside of just paying per lead if you wanted to.
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s even about in house how I do it, is that we build a ton of sites, and there’ll be winners, you know, if we build you know, in a course a few months, we built dozens of sites, bunch of losers, maybe some middle for me, but there might be a real big winner, then I’ll look at my buyer list in terms of Okay, I’m not monetizing this as well as I should so let’s go out and find like gutters we got a really big influx of better calls so I you know, I do like I love your posts the other day, how many sales and marketing people does your foreign for 250 dollars or $4.5 million business to one which is insane So that’s the same with me so if I need a client out because I have the calls out over finding
God very very, very cool. So if someone wanted to learn about specifically about this piece of what you do and how they could become one of your affiliates will be the best place for them to plug in.
Just go to lead smart Inc comm L EA D ad smart I NC calm and then there’ll be an affiliate tab. Once you register, it’s going to open up another page and it breaks breaks all the different programs on payout expectations. works. It’s cool. So we assign every affiliate that we approve a dashboard and tracking phone numbers may track customers do they need and then they get they get real time notifications for every call recording so they can hear what’s going on. And then we do our reporting one day in the rear. So at 8am for the previous day, all of their calls and their dashboard will update with their revenue with what they sold for. And then we pay most of our affiliates once a month. At some affiliates we pay weekly if you’re doing like paid ads. They seem to turn over their money quicker. So we’re super flexible.
Excellent. So I mean, definitely if you’ve got if you’ve got website assets out there that you’re not really monetizing, or maybe you’re not getting a maximum cost per lead definitely worth checking out the lead smart and seeing whether that’s a network to plug into indoors to get great SEO skills, but you just let’s say you haven’t been able to go on land clients and you feel like hey, look, why don’t I set up a bunch of websites get them ranked, and all that I’ve got this thing I could plug it into to generate leads that might be a great, great fit.
Yeah, and what I do too, is if I affiliate comes in, I’m like water damage they’ll give you example, if I know that Philly can go to another network and make way more money I always tell them because that’s going to happen anyways, I know they’re if they if it’s out there and they’re another you know, company that’s advertisement they’re gonna find and I it looks better. I think just in doing business, I ran it for like 33 mile radius, they paid $100 a call. It’s amazing for water damage. we’re nowhere near that. So I just move them on and You know,
you’re like you just like just go there. Don’t bother with any
of it. Yeah, it’s just better for everyone. So if people do reach out to lead smart, and they tell me what niche, they’ve got calls for it, for some reason we can accommodate it. I’m really plugged into the community. And I’ll tell you which company to go to.
Very cool. So what what, what verticals Are you in? And what verticals? Have you found to be most profitable? It’s something I get all the time. If it’s if it’s profitable from a lead gen perspective, it’s probably profitable as a niche to target. Can you speak to the niches that you’re seeing the most success in?
Yeah, so the key word is emergency based. That’s whatever you’re picking, sure to have something that that doesn’t depend on the economy, or anything that’s going on even COVID or whatever, the first week of COVID. My bathroom backed up and the house started to smell and I didn’t care what was going on. We’re calling the plumber. It doesn’t matter. And the same thing with you know, heating and cooling. You know, it’s 100 degrees in Florida down there. Your AC breaks, you have Call your you beg, borrow, steal whatever you gotta do to get money, you’re gonna pay to get it repaired, miserable without it. It’s a life threatening. Same thing up here in Chicago, the middle of winter, it’s negative, we’ve had a polar vortex and it’s negative 15 Windchill and your furnace goes out. This is life or death situation, and not trying to prey off that. But that’s the mentality that you got to do when you pick a niche. So dentist is awesome. People always need a dentist. Ah, back electric electrician, plumber roofing. Um, what are some other ones water damage? You know, so those are those are really good. And not to say that landscaping isn’t awesome, and painting and remodeling and all those other core trades that aren’t going anywhere. But those are the first things that you know, and it’s kind of weird. I can’t use COVID as a great example, because Home Improvements general didn’t really miss much. I mean, people still got remodeling done. And as Josh knows that plumbing and HVAC was, you couldn’t even tell that anything happened? Yeah. I think that’s just the nature of it because people aren’t doing plumbing Hmm. They’re doing it when they need it
so that’s the key so but in what I really do is this so what’s key for SEO try to place for plumber city name, it’s going to take you a long time and a lot of resources. But now try to place for let’s say tankless water heater zip code. That’s going to be something you can play for. Or what are some niches within niches electrical generator, backup electrical generator installation. That’s it. That’s a great one. Um, let’s see what some other ones just just, you know, like gutters gutter cleaning. You can also think about this and this isn’t a down any profession. But think about, think about the trades. They’re not some trades, plumbing and HVAC different these guys are sophisticated. They’re spending big boxers. They know the game. gutters, paving, driveway sealing. Um, even landscapers they’re not a sophisticated group of business owners doesn’t mean that they’re not awesome entrepreneurs make tons of money, whatever but Their SEO is lacking and you can really you can really bully it and take take those spaces over. So that’s that’s my general overall thought on niches.
Good, good, good, great feedback. Being that you got a great background in SEO, I think one of the things we talked about that I thought was interesting, you know, our model is very much get the client, get them to pay you a monthly fee 1000 to 2500 bucks a month, and just maximize their lead flow, whether it’s through their website, SEO, pay per click local service ads, actually buying some of the lead services like Google local services, maybe maybe even home advisor or some of those. And then, you know, the other aspect is helping them track it and nurture the leads to generate as many leads as possible. But what often happens is a lot there’s a gestation period for a lot of this stuff, and we’re going to develop a new website, we’re going to get it ranked, and we’re going to try and generate results for you, but it might take 236 months before it’s really firing on all cylinders. You had some cool ideas we were talking last time about like quick wins that you could do for the client just to show some activity. So they get some calls and they get some leads, so they get some streaks on the board. I found if you can get the client result in the first two to three weeks, they’re twice as likely to stick around with you for three months and it really sets the pace for the relationship. So go talk a little bit about some of those quick win ideas that we were talking about the other day.
Let me show you that to be cheesy
20 bucks. This right here. Use properly with any major service in any major Metro top 100 metros, this right here will guarantee you within the first 2424 to 36 hours phone calls, be using Craigslist, okay, so Craigslist or five bucks an ad. For years Craigslist had this a bad connotation to it. And it was actually free to post in the service skills Service section. So all of these affiliate marketers from all over the world, were just pounding it and even the contractors are just pounding on. I’m back in 2000, late 2017 or 18. Craigslist said it’s all paid five bucks and had it wiped out all those affiliate marketers because they’re required to have a United States credit card etc. So right now it’s why it’s even more wide open now because it was just another recent sweep that I was part of which ended a lot of affiliate marketing. But what you can do is it is right now let’s say you have a plumber or a painter, any of the major trades putting an ad on Craigslist and not just one is five bucks less 30 days spend 20 bucks post one ad a day for four days, I promise you you will get phone calls for your clients. So one of the things that that I would do is when you sign up your clients include in the verbiage of your contract and as you tell them that your client we’re going to market you using SEO Pay Per Click Facebook, various classified websites. You don’t have to To mention Craigslist. But just say that what you’re going to do so they’re not surprised. They’re getting a call. Well, where is it calling from Craigslist. And then they also don’t want to think that, oh, I can just go do this myself like this. Listen, you just got a call within 48 hours of me signing up. This is just the start, you know, and that really, they’re not going to leave you just to go post ads. And they can I hate to say, have I had a client find out that all the first ads, were coming from preferences and leave me and go right to craigslist? Sure it’s happened, but it is like just a quick wins. It happens so quickly, that you can get traction from it. What I would suggest is put a tracking phone around it so you can you can separate that from the other marketing and you can also make sure the client knows that that call is being procured by your advertising services. So that’s the that’s the first spot Craigslist, nice places you’re going to go is to let go let go is awesome as well. You’ll let go instead of phone calls. You’ll get a lot of people who were applied. Lecco is very similar to like offer up. It’s just A new version of Craigslist, you know the 2020 version of Craigslist. Most people will reply to you asking you for a quote. So then you would have to reply back please call this number etc,
like a thumbtack style like lead generating site.
Yes, but it’s free, which is awesome. You can boost your posts, but it’s free. The next place you want to try to post on his Facebook marketplace now it’s tough to get around you. If they say on their Facebook marketplace that you this is free as well. They say that you can’t post services. But go on to your Facebook marketplace. Put in your city search for plumbers first for electrician search for an hf you’ll see guys and girls that figured out how to get their ads on success leaves clues. Another one mentor told me success always leaves clues so you can get your ads on Facebook marketplace for services. Just figure out what the other people are doing. Normally what I do is let’s say I’m in Miami, I’ve got a plumber in Miami. Let’s see what guys Chicago and Boston are doing. And then I’m going to take pretty That same ad modified for myself and posted in Miami. The reason we do that, because I know Facebook has already accepted that. The worst thing that can happen to you, if Facebook’s says, Oh, you should be posting it, they just send you a message and say, Oh, sorry, we took down your ad, they’re gonna delete your account, you’re not risking anything. Um, so that that is another great, great place there. Again, you got to be prepared to interact, let go and Facebook marketplace will get you a lot of people to respond like, Oh, I’d like to get a quote, or how can I get more information. And you have to determine you just want to give them the phone number, which works. But what’s better, which we found over 10s of 10s of thousands of leads, is that we just asked them if you can get your zip code and your phone number and we’ll have the contractor give you a call.
And then we have a lead flow. next two to three steps before you flip it over the fence.
Yeah, because what you’ll find is, let’s say you get a you know, 10 of these leads 10 people respond and you respond to them with a phone number, maybe two of them we’ll call. I’m just using rough numbers here. Maybe two of them will actually call out of those 10 but it all 10 you respond Back to a kind of just get your phone, your zip code, make sure you’re in our service area and your phone number and I’ll have someone to call you back. You’ll probably get more, I just guessing five to six people that will say, Okay, here’s my name, here’s where you already have their name, Facebook, here’s my number, here’s my zip code. Now you’ve captured it, and now you go ahead and deliver that lead and whether they get a hold of that leader not I mean, you have to figure out what your deal is with them. But they’re gonna love if you do those three things Craigslist, let go Facebook marketplace right out of the gate. It’s gonna cost you $20 and maybe an hour’s worth of work that will guarantee leads. The only way that you want to get leads is that let’s say you’re doing like you know your shoe repair store in
middle of Iowa. Some random service in a random small town.
rat. Yeah, exactly. Major and when I say major city really clean up in like I’m in Chicago, where the sweet spot is or the suburbs because this Lake County along Plainfield. Exactly, exactly. And then the zip codes because Think about how even if you don’t search with zip codes, millions of millions of people search for zip codes every day. And it’s way easier turning from a longtail keyword standpoint, always include that zip code, you know, zip code, keyword is really much easier to place then city name, keyword, city names probably get you more traffic, but the low hanging fruit that you should really make sure you’re granted.
Makes sense. Makes sense. Any other tactics that you found to work well to get a site ranked quicker or to generate some quick wins for clients.
Yeah, you know that right off the bat really works. Well. I’m trying to think also his facebook group posting. So this is a little bit different. What you’re going to do is you’re going to join all the local groups. So let’s use Chicago as an example or Lake County, you got to kind of know your market and what you’re going to do is this. Let’s say the client send you back they have 60 cities in their list, you’re going to go on your Facebook, and you’re going to you’re going to look for you’re going to type in city name, by cell trait or city name. garage sale, and you’re going to join every group that you can. And then what you’re going to do is similar that you’re posting on Craigslist, and like, Oh, you can do about 60, a day before. Facebook will say, well, you’re going too fast. They detected as a kind of a spam, but you hit those groups hard. And that’s another free place that you can advertise. Again, you want to be in a more denser metro area trying to do this in a small one single city area. Maybe like Tucson, for example. Tucson really doesn’t have my understanding doesn’t have much of a suburb. It’s just kind of out there in the desert South
Tucson, right. That’s all you get, right?
It’s all depends how many groups are there I can’t imagine there being more than maybe 10 or 15. Buy sell trade groups, but then take Lake County, Illinois, there’s probably 500 of them. So that’s another really good place. I found the leads are really high quality using this method. Same thing with marketplace are pretty high quality. And the other thing is called mass page builder. So this is these are types of software’s that build a city that build they take a boilerplate like a boiler plate template and they utilize that to build all their pages for for that market so let’s say again use that 60 cities or 100 cities and there’s a couple of them there’s a search firm is my favorite one and that’s SP RP cert that search engine results pages it’s farm circuit insert com I actually have a tool that I built as well but I kind of like sir farm even better my tool city page Pro, but if you’re asked me which one I like sir farm a little bit better than city page pro for a couple reasons. Eventually, I’ll modify my software to do that. So that’s a good thing. There’s a couple other ones out there. But if you just Google Maps page builders, see what’s out there. You don’t have to you can also this is where you can make a nationwide site if you want. Um, but I think it was really well I’m utilizing, like how how often these are quick wins. This is More of a two to three month
process or long term,
kind of a strategy I would deploy would be make a really nice website for them. That’s their home base, then you make two, let’s say, let’s say plumbing, for example, then you make these kind of satellite lead generation sites and you don’t use their business name and you don’t use the phone number. You don’t want to mess with the nap in terms of like your citations and all that. And then you start making these niche websites where there’s a page made for every city and they start hitting that Tankless water city name or zip code and broken pipe repair, clogged drain repair a toilet website,
you can have a really well rounded campaign might
have a main site for the company and then maybe, you know, four or five, six of these little lead generation websites that are really targeting. Yeah, but micro sites pretty much just really targeting those longtail keywords specific to the niche.
Do you find those long those micro sites still rank because I know for a long time they did. And we all felt like oh, that’s going to disappear. They’re not going to rank anymore. I still see a lot of those sites out there ranking for random key terms. I kind of had this come up.
Yeah, it’s bad. You know, I think Google, they had this. They had this whole spam division. It’s a hybrid in India and that’s a Heart to Heart Heart. And then they kind of left another office. Now, they’re really up to GMB, Google My Business listings. I think they’re scrutinizing that way more than the local SEO. But the key thing is, is doesn’t matter if you know SEO or not. How you learn SEO is simply this putting a keyword that you want to place for analyze those top 10 results. See what they’re doing. Now if you see it’s Yelp homeadvisor when these big, big brands skip those, yeah, skip those look to see what the small guy did to get there. You can use tools like majestic seo.org. And that you can pop that in there. They’ll give you two free uses every day and it will give you a score on that website to kind of tell you how powerful you need to be. So that’s real quick. There’s real SEO research, seeing what’s placing and you’ll see some things are really soft like a left do electrical battery backup electric generator insulation city and we don’t do Chicago do like a smaller city or you know like Fort Myers or even smaller than that and see what’s placing you you’ll see oh wow there’s nothing placing you’ll know when there’s nothing placed
just create a page with the title tag and the content and you’re off to the races. It’s
back to like, you know, the tooth early 2000s again, where you just need to have the keyword so that’s huge and I think there’s you know, literally hundreds of millions of keywords that are soft and are out there in the in the service section.
Good stuff Hey, post useful thanks something like that and comments that that was hopefully shared a lot of really cool quick wins some really nice tools like majestic SEO and the masquerade page creator, I’m really, really appreciate it. So so you kind of now you’ve got this great business going you’re back at 150,000 a month of return probably more like 200. Once COVID is past us. If you can kind of go back to when you start it back to the beginning. How did you land your first handful of clients, you know for those that are kind of In that place in their business, what was the approach to land your first let’s just call it five clients.
For sure. So back then a little bit different, just this cold calling, and, you know, hit him with a, you know, we just hit this cold call to try and get past the gatekeeper get into the person make the appointment. And that’s how we didn’t, you know, just normal hard sales. Now what we do and I posted in the private group, I love contact for marketing. So most websites have a Contact Us form on it. And basically, if you look at the open rates for messages that come into your contact form versus a cold email, I mean, it’s substantially different maybe would you say what 5% open on a cold email would that be successful? Right?
Yeah, if you’re lucky. Yeah.
Lucky 5%. The open rates on these are like over 90% and if you think about it, if a contact us comes through your website, the chances of you opening a really hot because that’s a great place for business owners to know that they’re going to get new people Client so utilizing that is a great place to get your message. And I use a tool called GSA contact form it’s 100 bucks one time fee to desktop thing and you can just 10 thousands and thousands of messages a day. Um, you can also create like your own list. Let’s say you had a list of targets because like a second seven figure agency has criteria of what type of clients you should be going after he was blasting off everybody and I agree with that. So you can create your own list and whether you use this tool or not, doesn’t matter. It’s the principle applies. You can create your list and hire a VA to submit all that if you’re just starting out. Don’t buy anything, don’t do anything. Put your own sweat equity into it. Come up with a list and start hitting them up what i what i find it and take it one step further for staying in the home service area. Go to home advisor and see who have were the big players for each one of it. Like let’s say you’re going after electrician scope and you want electrician in Denver do electrician Denver home advisor They’ll show you all of their biggest players all and those guys are spending giant money. So those, those are the ones you want to talk to. So you can maybe create your custom list off that, find their website, send them a message. And that’s probably the number one way that I would recommend.
That’s a great point you what you’re looking for is propensity to spend, right? And if they’re, they’re spending, if they’re one of the top people on home advisor, they spent a lot of money to get those leads, right. So you’re looking for propensity to spend, and then you can get their attention saying, Look, I’ve got a better way you’re spending, you know, $35 a lead over here, and every one of those leads is getting sent out to six other guys, what if I can get you directly to the same or less? You know, can you would you like me to help you with that? You know, I mean? So I think that’s a smart. It’s a smart play. And you and me both? How do we get our first five clients, right? We didn’t have inbound funnels, we didn’t have Facebook ads pumping us full. We picked up the phone, we call prospects. We got their attention, and we asked for the business. So You know a lot I mean, there’s there’s easier ways but the fact is when you’re starting out, you’re going to do whatever it takes to get prospects attention and get the business. So don’t feel like you’re going to usually start with a magic pill. You got to build up to that level over time. Right?
Yeah, I agree. And then with that said, too, is I don’t think you want to go much more past probably five clients in person, you got to get your you got to get your striding because it’s, you might be a great salesperson, you might want to get these contracts left and right. But if you can’t fulfill, you don’t have that fulfillment process down, you’re going to get squashed. So really, take those first five, like, so important. So you’re creating and be extra extra, you know, you know, a type about it, you know, just do everything by the book, because when you get to 25 clients, it’s a whole different ballgame. It can swallow you up if you’re not prepared. If you haven’t prepared in that first five, you get the 25 the whole thing might fall apart.
So make sure you crush it for the five we’ve got because they will become You’re proof that you know what you’re doing right? Your case studies your word of mouth and build the systems around it. Like what works? Who’s gonna do what? What are the steps? I think that’s a great a great insight. You can’t just just focus on sales and let all of the delivery fall to the wayside.
Yeah, totally agree. Awesome. So
we’re coming down. You’ve got a meeting that’s coming up. If you have questions for Matt posted me comments, we’ll do our best to address them. I know that almost all successful people have done a lot of training and development to get where they are right reading books, training courses, what are like what are some of the books and training resources that have had the biggest impact on you?
Well, what I won’t mention because of political reasons, I think they can kick ass way before he was politician. I was okay man. That was that was it. So I’ll say that before. Another one thinking grow rich. Um really, really what has I love the day To Goggins that really has, you know, helped me deal with want to deal with more the the name, but we all know that book. Um, you know, I’m big into by biographies of successful people. So I’m always looking for learning the story of, you know, JPMorgan Chase, and Vanderbilt and all those I love hearing these, you know, these stories and reading those biographies. So that that’s it. And you know, I really, I really fall I follow Neil Patel, I try to follow people in SEO. And I try to learn from everybody. That’s really my big thing is, wherever I’m at, and you’re maybe here or wherever we’re talking financially, like I want, you know, stuff. I don’t know, that I want to know, you know, and I try to learn from everyone in every
level. That’s great. Good, like good resources there. I think those are all great resources to tap into. final final question as we wrap up, what would you say to that agency owner what additional nugget of work Would you share for that agency owner? That’s kind of where they’re at. They’re looking to get to the next level.
So it’s great question. So I remember, in the very beginning 2009, the first few years were rough, you know, I had transitioned out of this really awesome real estate career that I had. And I had transitioned in not making the money I was. And I remember saying to my partner at the time that if we can just make $10,000 a month from the internet, each walkway, I’d be so happy. That’s all I needed, like I would be so if I didn’t have to go to get a corporate job, and I didn’t have to answer anybody’s 10,000 hours a month. So I think about that all the time. I think about what I originally set out to do and where where I’m at. So, here’s the thing is, if you’re going to do this, decide what you’re going to do be take your time to make a decision. Choose your niche all that once you’ve made that decision, you have to go full bore and you cannot count the cost. So Like, obviously, you’re going to count the cost and you know the financials. But in terms of, don’t, don’t count the cost, figure out what it is that you want, set a really specific goal, and then go for it. And whatever happens, it doesn’t matter. You’re just I think of myself as like the terminators walking, does it I’m just coming and coming concours, my goal, you will, you will get there. And it might not be that role that you thought and you might not actually you might not even end up where exactly you want it to go. But you’ll get where you need to go which is, is which is going to be defined by if you quit or not. So that’s that’s my main message to the new people.
That’s the target, decide you’re going to do it and then whatever it takes, do the work and make it happen.
If you’ve got to lose an arm on the way, lose it, but you have to decide ahead of time you’re willing to go all in so if you’re not willing and you have you’re worried about it, then don’t do it. But once you fully decided that, you know to die for it, essentially, really but that’s it The mentality you have to have and then you go and then you’ll be able to take so many hits because you’ve already decided I’m willing to do anything to get it. So a little detected, it doesn’t matter.
Love it. 100% there’s a quick question here from Josh Brisbane. He says, if you were starting your agency out from scratch, and you were going to do a niche focused agency, what nice would you start with?
I really like backup electric generators. Hmm, a lot of people want them. I’m probably down by you, Joshua, probably everyone has, I mean, probably they’re a big deal. You get power knocked out. I think with where things are going, people are going to start prepping more. People are gonna start prepping more like having being prepared for this crazy new world that we all sudden transit pivoted into. So backup electrical generators is an awesome niche. Mini split ductless air is another really good niche. A lot of people are doing these these mini splits and it’s a really soft keyword, but it’s a high dollar, you know, it’s a high ticket item. Um, I also like gutters is a great niche what are some other sprinkler systems is a great niche near a lot sprinklers yep that’s a really another great niche and then also fire sprinklers inside so that may be it can be a lot of times it’s similar companies that do it sometimes
water protection systems
or protection systems and then a niche it’s competitive but it’s paying out just astronomically huge money is water damage because it’s insurance bait so think about this appliance repair has huge volume but an average appliance repair tickets 100 hundred 50 bucks if it’s two more than that there’s gonna buy a new appliance you know, you really got to balance that something that has high volume and also as high ticket and also as low comp so do I think my number one if I had a gun to my head what I had to pick I think I’d going into business as the backup electrical generator, um, that that’s my niche. I think that’s what I was going with but even electricians as a whole they’re not as competitive as ah back at plumbers electricians is kind of like that third little set of that but it’s so many needed, you know, in a train and all construction.
Yeah, great, great feedback. So this was this was great. Um, DJ is asking we get a link. Yeah, we’ll get a link for you. I read Josh’s question. Well, he’s actually, if you had one software you could choose to start out what software would you use? And then we’re gonna wrap up because you’ve got to jump on your call.
Yeah, you know, it’s hard to say what software I would use what I would say this, I would, I would really say, not a software. You know, if you’re talking about outreach, GSA if you’re talking about mass page builders, SERP farm or city page, bro, if you’re talking about building websites themeforest an element Li using Elementor Elementor. Isaiah, right. That’s probably the easiest way to launch sites and then Craigslist. I couldn’t say Craigslist and Facebook marketplace Craigslist. Number one. It is an unbelievably believable place, especially right now to get leads for your clients and it’s five bucks a pop, make sure you invest at least 20 bucks so you can see if you might have to call it your first ad but if you spent 20 bucks after your fourth ad You’re gonna start getting some calls.
Good stuff. Great, great insights, congratulations on on the bounce back the pivot and the massive success. I’m sure you know, really, it’s much even bigger things ahead. So thanks for taking the time. Thanks for sharing your success and all these great insights. If you’re watching this, be sure to you know, like, be sure to thank Matt, send them a personal message. If you’re interested in learning more about lead smart, definitely check that out. If you’ve got leads that you want to monetize. That’s a great channel to plug into. So that’s it for now. Matt, thanks again for your time. I really appreciate it.
Absolutely. Pleasure being on Thanks so much, Josh.
Talk to you later.
Join Our Local Marketing Agency Success Group On Facebook
Connect with 2,400+ other digital marketing agency owners. Share tips, ideas, and strategies for growing and scaling your Digital Marketing Agency. Click Here To Join The Facebook Group.
Watch Agency Success Interviews
Listen to interviews with highly successful Agency Owners on how they grew their business with our Agency Success Interview Series.