By: Kathleen Booth

on April 30th, 2018

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Dominate a Vertical Featuring Bill Faeth of Limo University (Inbound Success Ep. 36) Blog Feature

By: Kathleen Booth

 on April 30th, 2018

Print this Page/Save it as a PDF

"Dominate a Vertical Featuring Bill Faeth of Limo University" (Inbound Success Ep. 36)

Inbound Marketing | Inbound Success | Podcasts & Shows

What is the secret sauce behind succeeding at 18 out of 23 startups? For this entrepreneur, it is going deep and dominating a vertical.

In this week's episode of The Inbound Success Podcast, Limo University Founder Bill Faeth shares insights from his fascinating journey as a serial entrepreneur. From marketing agencies, to educational platforms, restaurants and even glow in the dark mini golf, Bill has launched - and successfully exited - an array of businesses in a variety of industries, and inbound marketing has been the linchpin to his success.

Listen to the podcast to learn what Bill is doing now to grow his latest venture, and to get his advice for budding entrepreneurs.



Transcript
 

Kathleen Booth (host): Welcome back to The Inbound Success PodcastMy name is Kathleen Booth and I am your host, and today my guest is Bill Faeth who is the CEO of Inbound Marketing Agents, as well as the founder of Limo University and a speaker and business coach. Welcome, Bill.

Bill: Hey, Kathleen. Thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be on the show with you.

Kathleen: Yeah, I'm excited to have you. You are a man after my own heart. I used to own my own business for 11 years before I joined IMPACT, and I still have that entrepreneurial fire that burns inside of me. I looked at your LinkedIn profile, and I saw that the first tip off was that you have three current jobs.

You are the founder of Limo University, the founder and CEO of Inbound Marketing Agents and a partner at GlowGolf and have had many businesses behind that that you've started and grown and exited. I looked at that and thought, "Wow, I don't know if I'm jealous or terrified that he has three businesses that he's running right now."

Bill: I think you can be a little bit of both actually. I think my wife would actually debate me on who's the actual partner in GlowGolf rather it's her or myself. I'll give that to her and just say I'm focusing on two right now.

Kathleen: I think it's great. I love running and growing businesses, and it's interesting that you have three that are so different from each other. I think when I first heard about you was several years ago actually when I first became a HubSpot partner and I was going to different HubSpot events.

I remember somebody mentioned -- I don't know if it was HubSpot themselves or if it was someone else -- an amazing case study of how you can use inbound marketing to really dominate an industry, and the case study happens to be this guy doing inbound marketing for a limousine company. Lo and behold, that guy turned out to be you and that inbound marketing for limousines kind of grew and sprouted into all different kinds of business ventures.

Maybe you could start back then and talk just a little bit about your career and how you've gotten to where you are today.

Bill: I think one, it kind of gives credence to the power of case studies. HubSpot did that case study on me and it kind of started back when I actually owned a limousine company in Nashville. In less than five years, I built an almost $9 million company using inbound marketing.
It made perfect sense for me to have my next business venture be Inbound Marketing Agents and actually take that kind of experience that I had.

When I first started with HubSpot, I'd never written a blog. I'm not a content writer at all. I was a business person. I wasn't a marketer and Michael Redbord -- for everybody that's in the HubSpot world probably knows Michael who's basically running all the support today -- he was my IMC and he challenged me to write a hundred blogs in a hundred days.

That's kind of how I got into inbound marketing. And this was 2008. They weren't very high quality by any means. We're talking 400 or 500 word articles, probably plenty of spelling and grammatical errors.
But they did the job for search engine optimization and to lead into my first funnel -- my first eBook landing page email funnel that I built inside of HubSpot that actually did over $400,000 in revenue in the first 90 days in new customer acquisition for us.

That's when I really got hooked on inbound. Kind of fast forwarding that, I built my company, I sold it, and I was going to become a consultant and literally kind of semi-retire. I'd been retired previously when I moved from Southern California to Nashville for four years and just got fat and played golf and drank beer and ate cheeseburgers every day.

That lasted all of about three or four days, and I ended up taking on the largest company at the time in the limousine industry as my first client, and they needed an inbound marketing strategy. They were a big brand within the industry, but they really had no marketing or no "smarketing" strategy as Dan Tyre would refer to it, right?

Fast forward to 2013, that case study helped me to get an invite to speak at INBOUND in 2013, and I actually spoke right behind Marcus (Sheridan) which was a little bit intimidating for me at that point because Marcus was speaking a lot -- at Social Media Marketing World and all that type of stuff -- and it was my first foray, if you will, into speaking at the marketing world and not just to private businesses and smaller groups. And I had like 400 or 500 people in there. That's where I talked about how to dominate a vertical, and that's something that I believe in holistically whether it's in business, whether it's in marketing, and it can be your SEO strategy, or content strategy, or Facebook ads targeting strategy.

You have to have focus because way too many of us go way too broad. That's what we did -- we just started in the limousine world building Inbound Marketing Agents and the first year in 2012 we did about $1.2 million in revenue.

We grew to six employees. We won a few awards from HubSpot at INBOUND which was cool, and we were on our way. But there was one fundamental problem, Kathleen, and being the business guy first, the profit margin wasn't big enough. I made some fundamental mistakes in scaling my business, and I think a lot of us in the agency world do this.

I had an 8% profit margin at the end of that first year. Look, I don't want to get out of bed for 8%, and I don't think any business owner should.

I completely bought out my partner, completely retooled our business model and within about nine months had fired half of my clients, taken on some new clients and increased that profit margin close to 15 percent.

Kathleen: Wow.

Bill: And that was in 2013. I think the interesting dynamic about Limo University, is that its always been a passion project. You and I talked about this as we were preparing for the podcast. It was 2012, '13 that I actually "rented" -- with my air quotes here that I'm using that nobody can see -- Sam Mallikarjunan from HubSpot. He came and worked for me for about 100 days. He's one of the smartest guys that I've honestly ever met in the inbound marketing world. A very disruptive thought leader.

At the time, he was about 24, 25 years old. He was my mentor when I bought HubSpot. I had no idea what to do with it, but he came and helped me really restructure, kind of build up the agency and one of the things that we started the project on was building what we were calling Inbound U, which realistically was the first iteration of Limo University, and we were three months into building this, and we probably had 300 to 400 man hours into it.

And then when we got ... I think it was an email to both to Sam and I from Mark Kilens letting us know that, "Hey, HubSpot is going to take their online university and make it public," and we're like "Oh, crap. What are we going to do now?" We scrapped the project.

Fast forward about two and a half years, and that's when I decided to launch Limo University. Because I see a lot of agencies really trading hours for dollars -- kind of what we see in the freelance world.

In the info product world, all these big brands say, "Hey, make a million dollars in seven days, or make $10,000 in 24 hours." I knew there was probably a better way. I just didn't know how to get there. So I kind of hunkered down, spent about four months researching, you know, guys like Chris Brogan.

How's Chris getting people to register for webinars and charging $25, when I learned that the inbound marketed methodology from HubSpot was give everything away for free? And then I talked to Chris, and then I looked at some other people like Pat Flynn, you know, Micheal Hyatt, who's a local here in Nashville, who worked with Stu McLaren to launch his Platform University.

And really knew that I wanted to take what we had started and didn't complete with Inbound U and apply that. And there was no better place for me to have a testing ground then my brand equity that I had invested in the limousine industry.

And that's where Limo University came about. What I found out really quickly is I could put the same amount of effort into creating a product -- for us, we launched Limo University with three products, three courses -- the same amount of effort went into each one of those courses that we would typically put into a campaign for one client that may be spending four to seven, or $8,000 dollars a month with my agency. But yet I'm still investing 50, 60 hours, by the time we go through strategy, client meetings, drafting, writing the content, editing, SEO-ing, design, traffic source, distribution, funnelization, all that type of stuff, we're into that for 50, 60 hours. And let's just say it's a $3,000 to $4,000 campaign.

Well that's one and done. I don't have any recurring revenue off of that. And that's what happened with the courses that we ended up selling. Because as soon as we launched with those three courses, then about four or five months later we opened up our membership. And I'm a huge believer in that recurring revenue model. Even though a lot of us in the agency world have an MRR model, what we don't really factor on is its scalability based on our time investment and the intellectual property, the true value we're delivering for the client.
And I think that model kind of gets tweaked. So for me, it's really about the membership platform, what we call "{LAB}". You guys have just had a huge event, I think a live event a few months ago that you did for IMPACT, right?

Kathleen: Yeah.

Bill: Well, next Monday and Tuesday we have a couple hundred people coming here for actually a free event that I'm paying for. My {LAB} members, which is our membership product, are flying from all over the world. I think we've got seven or eight international people coming, and then all over the U.S. and Canada to come in for our free two day even we're calling {LAB} Live.

And I think that's kind of the second thing. I'm a huge believer in relationship building. And I think that this is something that we're doing to get stickier, build a much deeper, integrated relationship with our customer base -- our clients that are in that membership program -- that I think is difficult to do on the one-off agency sides when you're working with these brands.

So we bring these individuals in, they're not paying to be here. Well, a few are, but 99% of them are not. They're coming in as members for free. We've generated sponsorships probably similar to what you guys have done. And then really being able to fortify by giving back to them and bringing in the five people who have been my influencers. And instead of doing PowerPoints and speaking onstage like we all do, we're doing fireside chats, kind of like a town hall to where they, the community, gets to ask all the questions from people they would never have access to.

Hopefully that indoctrination series isn't too long for you. I know that was probably four or five minutes. But that's everything that's happened to me in the marketing world, from inception, before I got into the marketing world, even though I've done sales in marketing with all of my 23 startups that I bootstrapped, kind of getting into the agency and then really, we're about 75% of the way through a metamorphosis from Agency into the infoprodcuts.

And I don't think we'll ever complete that. I think we'll always sustain being an agency. But the agency side is much more boutique than it was when we were doing around three or four million dollars a year in revenue, so we can really pick and choose who we work with on the agency side.

Kathleen: That is such an interesting story to hear you tell. I have so many questions I want to ask you, I'm not even sure where to start. But a couple of quick observations. The first one is, I would be almost willing to put money on the fact that you were probably the only guy that your IMC went to and said, "Write 100 blogs in 100 days."
And you're probably the only one that ever actually did it.

Bill: I would agree with that. Do you have second? I'll give you some context, what led up to that.

Kathleen: Yeah. 

Bill: And this kind of ties into my personality. So very typical story, like, with search engine optimization. I had started Silver Oak Limousine International in May of 2006. Didn't know anything about search engine optimization. Did a little bit of research. Thought I'd found a really good SEO agency out of San Francisco. Wrote them a $4,000 check, and voila, got squadoosh. You know? In about 90 to 100 days.

I took my medicine, did a little bit more research, and called some friends that had done some SEO. I thought I'd found another legitimate agency out of New York, but I got the same result. I think I paid five grand the second time. So nine grand then, and about six and a half months. And I got zero out of SEO.

So I went home, locked myself in my office in my basement, told my wife, "Bring me pizza and diet Coke. I'm not coming out until I figure out the solution."

One, to be able to learn it on my own, or two, to at least be able to track and have a knowledge base of what I'm doing. So I can manage somebody and not make these bad decisions again. Sunday I found HubSpot, this was Friday night.

So I spent all day Friday night and Saturday researching it, and on Sunday I found Hubspot.com. I converted on their form. Monday morning, probably around 8:00 a.m. my time, 9:00 a.m. east coast time, a guy named John Marcus called me.

John Marcus was my sales rep. And he started giving me the sales pitch. And I said, "John, let me stop you real quick. I'm ready to f-ing buy right now from you. Here's my AmEx number, write it down, with the expiration date, here's my billing address. But, I've seen your ..." I somehow found in internal Wiki which was public, and I knew their entire onboarding process.

I said, "I see that I get eight calls with my IMC included, inside of my package that I'm gonna pay you for." And I started out Basic like everybody else. I think it was, like, $200 a month back then. And I said, "I want that in eight days."

He said "Uh, Bill, I don't know that I can make that happen." I said, "Well, call me back, you've got my credit card number. You're not authorized to charge it, I'm not signing a contract or anything until you get that approved." About two hours later he called me back, he said, "Hey, this is John Marcus."

I said, "Great, did you get it approved?" He said, "No, I've got somebody on the phone that wants to speak with you," and his name was Brian.

And I said, "Hey Brian, I'm Bill, and this is ..." He's all, "What do you want?" I said, "I don't know anything about this, but I've got this aggressive, OCD, ADD, entrepreneurial, quadruple Type A personality. And I want to get this shit done quickly. And here's what I want. I need eight days. And I want to do all eight calls in eight days. I'm gonna do whatever you tell me. And if you say it's gonna take a week I'll have it done for you within 24 hours."

And he's all, "Are you gonna sign a twelve month contract?" I said, "Yes." He's all, "I'm not giving you a refund. So I need a couple of hours to have my legal team," which was probably him and Dharmesh, one of the founders at that time, to redraft the contract.

And they would not give me any way out for a refund. So that was Monday. We got it done on Monday, Tuesday started the first call. And we were, we had calls, I think it was 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. every day.

Micheal Redbord did Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. At 10:00 a.m., there's no Micheal Redbord on Saturday. I'm texting, and calling, and Tweeting John Marcus, saying, "WTF, where's my call?"

He's like, "It's Saturday." 

I said, "Eight days in a row. Saturday, Sunday, I don't want to miss a beat. I'm ready to just pound, you know, get going on this stuff. I don't want to wait." I just didn't have the patience for it.

So John Marcus did my call on Saturday. And who do you think did my call on Sunday? It was Brian. Actually did my-

Kathleen: Nice.

Bill: Call on Sunday. I think John loved me at that point. But Brian absolutely hated me. And it's funny, I really didn't have any direct communication with Brian, even at the INBOUNDs, until, I think it was a 2015 Partner Day, when we were at HubSpot. And we were in a private breakout session with him, and I said, "Do you remember me, or who I am?" And he's like, "How the hell could I ever forget you?"
And I said, "I apologize." And he said, "You know what, no. I apologize to you. Because we had a pretty shitty platform back there, and you've been with us for, you know, from 2008 to 2015." And it was a really interesting conversation, for those of you who've never met Brian, I absolutely love ...

Kathleen: Now, to clarify, this is Brian Halligan, who's one of the two co founders of HubSpot, who these days, you would never, ever get Brian on a call for almost anything, let alone, you know, your onboarding.

So that's such a, it's such a great story.

Bill: It's kind of cool to tell today, because they're a publicly traded company and all that stuff. And even John Marcus left HubSpot a few years ago and founded his own software company, Bedrock Data, and has done a lot of cool things.
 And then I looked at Sam Mallikarjunan as my mentor at HubSpot. And I think we all need mentors, whether it's in the marketing side or the business side. I'm huge on coaching. But Sam was, like, 24 when he was my, I don't know what they'd call it, I guess my IMC. But he's a college dropout.

Sam's claim to fame was how he got hired by HubSpot, and that he smoked cigars and that he had a radio show. But now the dude is literally teaching at Harvard.

Kathleen: Yeah, he's a smart guy.

Bill: Which is unbelievable to me. And I think that shows me two things. One, I dropped out of college, I had a full ride golf scholarship, and you know, gave that up, from UCLA. Sam was a college dropout.
If you just really hone in, and learn, and apply your craft and go deep as opposed to wide, I think you can be successful in anything.

Kathleen: Something that you've been talking about that I think really reinforces a strong belief that I have, which is that -- and I wrote a blog on this once -- which is that a lot of people look at things like marketing automation software, and they feel like the software is the solution. When really the software is still, at the end of the day, a tool. And there are plenty of people who buy HubSpot, and have no results to show for it, much like you had no results to show from your SEO companies.

But the difference is that they haven't actively gotten in, and taken the bull by the horns, and done what they needed to do, whereas in your situation, you know, you were the squeaky wheel and said, "Tell me what I need to do and I will do it." And it just goes to prove that it's not necessarily the tools that make you successful. It really is you that makes you successful. The tools make doing that a little bit easier.

Bill: One hundred percent. I view the tools as the starting point, actually. It still takes our minds, our experience, our thought process to be able to formulate the campaigns that we wanted to implement, utilizing the tools and the assets.

I doesn't matter if it's HubSpot, or Leadpages, or Facebook ads, you know, Infusionsoft, or you know, whatever it is, you're right. And I see that a lot really with Facebook ads right now.

A lot of people have been migrating from free content marketing into direct response, specifically over probably the last few years with Facebook ads. So many people give up too quickly. Once again, they don't go deep enough to learn the nuances of the platform.

They don't know what surfing is. They don't know, you know, how to really target. And they think, "Okay, hey, I've got a great offer, I'm given a discount, and if I target women 18-45 that are single, Caucasian, that have a job, make over $75,000 a year," automatically they're gonna generate 100 leads a day spending $10 a day. And it just doesn't work that way.

And I saw the same thing with HubSpot. When we first started and we were growing so fast, we did two things. One, we put our packages together and would execute for our customers. But two, we would actually consult.

And our clients would do the execution. And that was the one that we ended up getting out of 100%. Because we really couldn't control it, and they didn't want to go as in depth as they needed to. They still wanted to write the four hundred word blog articles, they only wanted to do it twice a week.

They didn't understand, you know, how to really build out a funnel. And if we built out this complex funnel with the return path, and, you know, using smart content when that came out back at, gosh, I guess that was maybe 2013 ... You know, people want to cut corners.

And I think that's something ... I love when people cut corners. Because we don't cut any frickin' corners. We charge more to not cut corners, but it gives us that competitive advantage for people that do cut corners.

So I think one thing that I want to share with your listeners is to go deep, don't go wide, and I know that's a just a very cliché thing to say. And you probably hear Gary Vaynerchuk talking a lot about that stuff, of going deep, deep, deep.

I agree with him 100% in a completely different context. Two, I would tell you to invest. And one of the things we do at our agency is every one of our staff members is required to spend a minimum of two hours a week on their education. And I don't mean just reading a HubSpot blog article and stuff like that.

I mean, it might a Coursera course. It might be learning something from Digital Marketer, and their HQ. Whatever it is, really learning something to focus on a new skill set. So we can have these well rounded marketers.

I don't want somebody that just focuses on Facebook ads, or that's just a writer, or that's just organic social media, or that's the expert in Reddit Subreddits.

I think you've got to be much more well rounded than that. And then I think the third thing is just something I learned years ago from Russell Brunson is test. If I'm gonna put $100 or 100 hours into something, if I invest $100 I better get $130 out. I mean, I believe in a 30% profit margin minimum in everything that I do in business.
If I'm gonna put 100 hours into something, I better be able to do it 70 hours the next time that I have to be able to do it, from an efficiency standpoint.

Kathleen: Now, I want to spend some time going deeper on going deep and not wide. Because that's really something that I feel like you've mastered. And it started with your work at the limo company, blogging about the limo business. It morphed into you creating Inbound Marketing Agents, and working with very specialized verticals.

And now you have Limo University, and all the things you're doing there. One of the reasons I think a lot of people, companies, don't focus, don't go narrow and deep, is they're afraid of losing potential customers.

They're afraid of saying no to somebody. Whereas if you go deep sometimes, I think it really does open up more opportunity. Maybe you could start by talking a little bit about your experience with that, and how being focused actually helped you grow?

Bill: My most recent experience when I started my agency was, like, literally three days prior to starting IMA, Inbound Marketing Agents. I was in the limo business and I had a nine million dollar limousine and motor coach company. And I had been doing it for just under five years.

And I was one of the probably top fifty experts in that industry. And if there's one thing that I've learned from my years with HubSpot, and leading up to that, it's that the best marketing, and even sales strategy, is education.

Educate. Create value for your customers. Teach them something they don't know, that they're not aware of. And that's what I did with my first eBook at Silver Oak. It was The Ultimate Guide for Executive Admins to Ground Transportation. Very narrow. One job title. Executive admins, right?

And I'll never forget this. I was flying to HubSpot from Miami. I was at what's called the Leadership Summit. I'm actually speaking there in a few weeks with Sam, believe it or not. But I was flying, and I upgraded to first class, and it was probably one of the first times I've ever flown first class, flying American Airlines from Miami to Boston.

The only reason I upgraded it is back then that was the only way you could get internet, wifi on the flight. It probably cost me an extra two or three hundred bucks. But I got a pretty good ROI on that two to three hundred dollar investment because I deployed that ebook in my HubSpot, on that flight, and I generated four leads in the first 24 hours.

I pushed it out to LinkedIn, I put it on my Twitter, I put it all these different places. And groups, I probably was pretty spammy with LinkedIn groups back then. And I don't recommend that. But I got a lead from ... She wasn't the executive admin. But she was the assistant associate athletic director at Ohio State University.

And long story short, when I left HubSpot, after two days being up there, I flew directly to Columbus, and went to Ohio State to meet with her. This is where the sales part kicks in. I wasn't waiting for an email reply. I had this opportunity. I sent her an email to follow up.
I think I arrived at HubSpot on Wednesday. I think I arrived at Ohio State on Friday afternoon, didn't even tell her I was coming, just showed up hoping I'd be able to meet with her. And literally stayed over the weekend, because I couldn't get the meeting with the athletic director til Monday.

And in the end, I closed about a $300,000 motor coach deal with them for their winter sports.

Kathleen: Wow.

Bill: Based off of an executive admin. So you talk about going deep and narrow, but she was not an executive admin. She's an assistant associate athletic director. And she was the gatekeeper, not the decision maker. The AD was the decision maker. So I think this is where people do get scared. But at the end of the day, if you create great content, and you have a great title, some people outside of that narrow targeting, or vertical, that you're going into, are gonna read it as well.

And that's what I see happening a lot. So it's really interesting, that I went deep into the Limo University. I went deep into the Limousine Industry. One, because I knew the subject matter.

I think people are afraid to do the frickin' work to be honest with you. If you're gonna do narrow and deep, you better really go deep and become the expert. It's not 30 minutes of research to write a 1,500 word blog article. It's three hours of research, that's gonna take you three hours to write a 1,500 work blog article.

It's an all day gig, as opposed to cranking out content in 90 minute or two hour chunks for a blog. So when I went into Limo University, I only though limousine guys were gonna be buying my courses, and, you know, joining my {LAB} membership.

And that's not the case. We have attorneys, we have real estate people. Even though everything is specific to the limousine industry, they're buying our courses, because they want to learn. And I think that one thing that's really critical for us in any business, but extremely important in the info side, and the training side, the executive coaching, the live events, the marketing side on retainers, it's really applicable everywhere, is having the right pricing.

And not just based on what I call your profit market integrity. We've found the right pricing for our courses as an example, and most people are charging $999 to $2,000, or they go too low at like, $99 to $199.

We tested and we figured out that $585 is our perfect price. From a profitability standpoint, but most importantly to be able to get 1,000 people to buy versus 100 or 200 people.

Kathleen: So, I'm gonna stop you there for a second. Because I really want to make sure we talk about Limo University, and that the listeners understand what that is, and what the business model is. Because it's very different than what you did in the past. You started with a limo company, the kind of company that we're all familiar with.

You need to rent a limo, or you need to rent a bus for your school transport, or what have you. Then you move into having a marketing agency. But really now, Limo University is a very different type of company. So tell everyone a little bit more about exactly what that company is, what it does, and how it's structured.

Bill: Basically we sell courses. If you think, like, Coursera, Udemy, or something along those lines. And that's what I was referring to, the $585 price point. Regardless of the size or value of the course, we try to keep that consistent. We also sell kits. And a kit is where we've built the sales page for you. We've written the emails for you.

If we're using Leadpages and you're going to a conference, you know, or a show, or something, a bridal show, or a global business travel association, or, you know, even a pharmaceutical show, you're going to have a booth, we're using, like, text opt-ins, and you know, funnelizations, and that type of stuff. So we kind of build all that stuff in the kits to where it's almost done for you.

We've done "done-for-you" campaigns, and that's one thing that I loved about Leadpages. That's one of the platforms that we used. We can build it, and then we can share it with them through a link, which we can't do on many other platforms.

Then they can go in and they can customize on their own. Kind of like a swipe file copy with content, right? But then probably the most important thing for me as the business owner, and to be able to get back, is the membership program.

We have something called {LAB}. We kind of modeled it after Digital Marketer. They called theirs Lab. And we test everything before we put it into it. They have "execution plans," we have "action plans." Ours are different, and they're geared towards the limousine industry. But then it's also the access.

So we do something every Wednesday called "Wednesday drive." And it's our ten minute or less, you know, kind of actionable teaching session. Sometimes it's video, sometimes it's screen cast, sometimes it's podcast, sometimes we'll write an email for them, whatever it is, that's not included.

So that's kind of that value add that we launch, and we don't tell them. Every Saturday morning ... I kind of stole this from IMA, my agency ... We used to send out an email to ... We had about 17,000 HubSpot leads basically when we stopped doing inbound marketing for the agency almost two years ago.

So if you go to our Facebook page or our blog, you'll see it hasn't even been updated and we still generate over 150 leads a month.

Kathleen: Wow.

Bill: You think SEO is valuable? It is. We've dropped from about 60,000 visitors a month down to 25,000. So that's disappointing, and it should. But, we did an email newsletter every Saturday that had an extremely high open rate. So it was about 41, 42%, so our 17, 18,000 leads that we had, and it was titled "Saturday Sips."

And it wasn't a traditional email newsletter. It was really personal, really off the cuff, not really "markety," if markety is actually a word. Never tried to sell anything inside of it, and we just wanted it to be casual and personal. And we did that, started that probably in 2014 or 15. Well, when that ran its gamut, I kind of stole that for Limo University.

Every Saturday morning at 9:00 I do "Saturday Sips" and it's a live broadcast into our group. And that's the same thing that we do with the Wednesday drive. We post it into the group with an intro video.
Then they have to log in to their library. We use a platform called New Kajabi to host Limo University, to log into their library, inside of their {LAB}, and that's where they access the content. So it's kind of interesting.

Now, "Wednesday Drive" is essentially a blog that we have, that we deliver, but it's gated inside of it.

Kathleen: So your audience for Limo University is Limo companies? Correct? Well, that was the intended audience. I know you said it sort of broadened out from there.

Bill: So 90% of them, 99% are limousine owners. And a limousine company is probably totally different than what most people think. They think prom, wedding, that type of stuff. That part of the retail side of the business has been almost extinct since the recession.

Kathleen: Right.

Bill: It's mainly SUVs, and motor coaches for corporate travel on a global scale. And that's really what the limousine industry has become for the business traveler. So that's our primary demo, our market vertical that I've gone after, but I've also worked in the craft industry. There's a website called Craftsy.com where the stereotype is old ladies that are going and mixing paints, and doing cross stitch, and needlepoint, and there is a lot of that.

But Craftsy actually is like a new Udemy or Coursera ... It's predominantly female, they go in and they do their own courses, and then they sell them for $28 or $30 dollars. And it's just, I don't want to bore you with the entire story. But I've spoke for them, and I waive my speaking fee, and get the opportunity to build these audiences from the stage in the back of the room.

And I did it, and then it led into this whole other vertical for us.

Kathleen: Interesting.

Bill: So the one thing that I will tell you is my team and I have been able to invest way more time on that educational side and get a lot more value for our mission, which is to help people, not necessarily do their marketing for them, on the IMA side we don't take on large companies.

I'm sure you guys at IMPACT and some of the other larger agencies that are at the diamond and platinum level. And I used to be a platinum agency. I had some larger companies at that time. But our real mission was the sub-one million dollar company. Because I've done 23 startups. I've grown two companies past $30 million.

I know how hard that is. I know how hard it is to get to a million, then to five, then to ten. And getting somebody from a million to five typically gets them out of that struggle, right? Because it takes marketing acumen, sales acumen, and most importantly business acumen to be able to get there and kind of create a bankable business.
And that's where most of us fail. So that's kind of what our sweet spot's been.

The other thing is, I mean, I'd left. I sold my company to Grand Avenue and left on April 19th of 2012. If I say, Kathleen, what's the first word that pops into your head when I say the word, "limo?" You're probably gonna think of a four letter word that starts with "U" right? And that's Uber. And Uber has crushed the limousine industry.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Bill: Just like Amazon is crushing retail. My GlowGolf business is getting hammered because we're in shopping malls everywhere. Jeff Bezos is probably going to put us out of business. Because we're going to go out of business as the shopping malls go out of business.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Bill: And that disruption is something that kind of pulled at my heartstrings. Because I didn't have the skills to know how to do what I did. And the problem at IMA, is that they couldn't afford five, six, seven thousand dollars a month.

So I had to create a platform that I could teach them, for those that wanted to be taught. I can't help people that don't want to, you know, self learn and continue to educate themselves.

But I also had to make sure that I could sustain enough profitability to where I could, you know, take care of my team and my staff doing that. And we've been able to do that for the last two and a half years.

Kathleen: So you started Limo University. I assume you had an existing network, because you'd worked in the industry, but how did you really get traction in terms of viability? Because you're talking now about how you're getting thousands of people to sign up for webinars, or classes.

Walk me through how you got from we're starting this from scratch to we've got this large audience that we're now monetizing?

Bill: Yeah, absolutely. So I had a head start, and that's why I went into that industry. When I left being an operator in the limousine industry, and moved over to starting IMA, which was a two year gap, a two year delta between me leaving the industry as an operator to starting IMA, happened in 2012.

I didn't start Limo University until 2015. But that's one of the reasons I really focused in with IMA on the limousine industry. We had healthcare clients, we had manufacturing, fundraising clients, plenty of other clients that we dealt with. But the brand was really built, so for the last twelve years I've been in the industry I've been speaking at every industry show.

I'm writing in their periodicals -- LCT Magazine, Chauffer Driven Magazine, Limo Digest -- on my subject matter. I was blogging about it. The one thing I never did with IMA, is that you'll never see a limousine case study. You'll never see blog articles, or content about the limousine industry on IMA, because I was afraid that I was gonna get pigeonholed-

Kathleen: Yeah.

Bill: Into, you know, being the "limo guy," which is what everybody at HubSpot referred to me as. So fast forward to launching Limo University. I kind of cheated, because I'd already built a really big brand in a very, very small industry. There's only about 9,800 limousine companies in North America. There's less than -- we don't have 100% concrete data -- but we estimate less than 20,000 to 25,000 globally.

Kathleen: Hmm.

Bill: And those numbers are retracting every year because of Uber, and Lyft, and the TMCs, and how they're affecting that industry. So, one of the first things that I did is I believe heavily in exclusivity. I think that exclusivity is a huge part of business, and a very under utilized tool in marketing.

I also believe in scarcity. Those are two huge things for me that I use in my marketing, in my sales, and in my business structure. So one of the things that I did with Limo University is I announced it on our Facebook page, Limo University's Facebook page.

But nobody had any idea who was behind it. I hadn't even launched the website yet -- just a Facebook page. And I kind of created this mysterious, you know, kind of brand behind it. We were putting out content but I was voicing it over, there was no video that was going with it.

And that went on for about three and a half weeks. And then I was actually at a function in Southern California -- Newport Beach -- and I did my first live broadcast while I was there. And that's when I kind of announced, and in that meantime I had hundreds of people asking me if it was me. Because they didn't think anybody else would do it.

I announced it, I started, it was called the "Ask Limo U Show," modeled after what Gary has done at the "Ask Gary V Show." He's done about four hundred or five hundred episodes. I actually just did my 100th a couple of weeks ago. And I'd launched about five of those, taking industry questions, so user generated content. And then I would spend about $20 on Facebook ads behind them to reach all of my custom audiences inside of the industry -- my lead list that I put into a custom audience, then all the targeting. It's very hard to target a limousine operator.

And then the next thing that I did was a started my own private group when I launched Limo University and the membership program that's paid to get into it ... Or, not, I shouldn't say that, because you can't charge to get into a Facebook group. But they pay me for the membership, and then we put them in that ... But then I launched a public group as well.

And I learned from Tim Burd, they need to know the name Tim Burd. He's probably the foremost expert in Facebook ads in the world, or at least one of them. And he owns Facebook Ad Buyer's Group and about five or six other groups with 40, 50, 60 thousand members. I believe that that's where you want to have your community living is in a group, whether it's public or private, because of the access that you get to them inside of your community. As long as you're creating value.

So that's what I did there. And all along the way it's kind of what I talked about previously. It's just educate, educate, educate.

I only believe there's two forms of content. One is educational content, and two is entertainment. Sports, entertainment. I'm a huge hockey fan. And a Preds fan. That's entertainment for me. The second part is educational. I haven't really mastered the entertainment side, by any means.

I'm not very funny, I'm not good looking. I don't know what I would do from the entertainment side. I'm definitely not Billie Gene Marketing. I can't make videos the way that he does at least yet.
So I've really relied on that educational side. And I think the biggest thing that I've learned is to let my community determine what that content's gonna be. So I make a huge effort, and I think this is part of going deep ... Because I'm learning from them as much as they're learning from me, and the most important thing I can learn is what they want, and when they want it, and how they want me to deliver it.
And if I can hit all three of those KPIs that they're telling me, and they own it, because they're the ones that are generating those topics, and that demand, man, that's like hitting the royal flush, as a content creator.

I'm just delivering content in a different form than what a traditional agency is. And I'm using our team. I've only got, like, seven in-house employees and about five or six contractors that work for me, whereas in year number one of IMA I had 22 full time employees, and nine just on my writing team. We actually -- I gotta share this with you, it's kind of for those content marketing and blogging nerds out there -- in 2013, we won HubSpot's blog of the year. We posted 5,186 blog articles that year.

Kathleen: Wow.

Bill: In 2013. And we were blogging I think twice a day, sometimes three times a day, just for IMA at that time. It's just an interesting data point, because that so would never happen in my life, or in our agency today by any means.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Bill: And I think that's kind of why the model works, to be honest with you. And I think I'm invested. I think when I say "deep" I'm talking about that personal investment. And I've got to have that out of every one of my team members as well. And that makes it hard for me to hire really great talent, because they're like, "Um, yeah, I'm not sure if I want to work in the limousine industry."

Kathleen: Yeah.

Bill: We launched Limo University as a test. It's kind of been in a testing phase, to test a multitude of things over two and a half years. And now we're ready, we're going launch my own personal brand under billfaeth.com because I've been in the real estate industry, ecommerce, restaurants, importing, exporting, you name it -- I've done just about everything.

So we're gonna get out of that niche and kind of really focus on some different verticals under my personal brand.

Kathleen: So I've gotta ask you, with Limo University you've got the {LAB} Live event coming up next week. You have the courses, you have the Facebook group, you're starting to launch your own personal branding website. Anything else coming on the horizon? Because it sounds like there's a lot, and it looks like this is really turning into a critical mass for you, in terms of a new direction.

Bill: Yeah, well I guess there's two things I didn't mention under the Limo University umbrella, if you will. One is we do boot camps. We just were in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, which is the International Charter and Tours Show. It's the biggest show in the industry. About 4,000 people attend.

The number one thing that they asked us last year is they said, "Hey, we need more in person training." So, I've got a fairly large office, about 6,000 square feet. So we took our front room, where everybody sits, and we set it up for about 35 people to be able to come in, and we did a two day boot camp, and I charged $600. Actually we did 15 people that I personally invited as a test. It was successful, and everybody wanted more. So in the summer we expanded to 24. In the fall I think we did 30. In the winter we did about 36. So we did four of them in 2017. We're only doing two in 2018, once again to create more scarcity. So we raised the price as well.

Now it's $1,250 for a two day bootcamp, and we max it out at 36 people to come in. Technically it's really a day and a half. And then we also have Inner Circle, which are my mastermind groups.

So I was in some masterminds in the HubSpot ecosystem. I've been in peer groups, some people call them. The Entrepreneurs Organization is kind of what spawned this. I was in EO for a while. And just didn't really get the experience I wanted. We had eight members in our forum. And four of us were awesome and the other four didn't give to get, they just wanted to get, get, get.

So we said screw it. We want to own this. So we left. Dropped out of EO, started our own group called Spark. And what we found out is about five, six months later, I don't want to say we were in the same position, but we hadn't gained enough traction, and we knew we needed help.

And one of the problems with a lot of these peer groups is they're peer led. So it's hard to institute accountability. So we went out and hired a gentleman named John Bairden, who had gone through all four phases of business, in my opinion, from being an idea guy, to a startup guy, to a legitimate entrepreneur, to a CEO of two fortune 500 companies, and he was older. So we hired him to come in and be our chairman of our newly found group. And paid him to do that. And basically we wanted to all be classified as department heads, kind of COOs if you will, reporting to him. Because as a COO, who are we accountable to?

Kathleen: Yeah.

Bill: Typically our spouse, unless we have a board, that's really it. I mean, we can say that we're accountable to our employees and to our clients, but that's not reality. Right? Who do we turn to when we have a major problem? Who does Bob or I turn to when we might miss payroll by $2,000 on Friday, or we missed an error on worker's compensation, or whatever that is.

Kathleen: Having been a business owner for 11 years, I say amen to that. Because even though my business partner was my husband -- and somehow our marriage did survive that -- it's incredibly lonely when things are not going well.

When things are going well everybody wants to hear your story. And that's great. But when things are not going well, whether it's, as you say, it's a missed payroll, or some other crazy thing that happens, that's the thing that doesn't get talked about as much.

But what you learn very quickly when you do start to talk about it is that there are tons of other business owners experiencing it. And so I completely agree with you that that support system is so essential.

Bill: Everybody's in the same boat. I don't care how small or large your business is. I've been married ... I just had my 20th anniversary last month. And my wife and I have been business partners in every business venture that we've done since we've known each other for 22 years.

Kathleen: Oh man, we could have a whole separate podcast about starting businesses with your spouse. Because we had two.

Bill: Exactly. And we were at dinner on our 20th anniversary, and I asked her a question. I said, "You want to share something with me that you've never told me?" And it just led to some interesting questions. And I think my biggest accomplishment, Kathleen, I had my first employee when I was 18 years old in Bakersfield, California with a t-shirt company that my mother helped me start. And my mother kind of had the entrepreneurial bug. She owned a preschool. But she was a teacher. I don't want to say I had it tough growing up, but we were lower middle class. My mom probably never made more than $40,000 a year, living in California. That's like, a death sentence today. Thank God it was thirty years ago.

But we were okay. And I kind of got that entrepreneurial spirit from her, but probably the biggest thing that I hold tight to my chest as an achievement, in all of my businesses, is that I've never missed a payroll. But I've been damn close. And one of the things I told my wife, I said, "Remember back at Silver Oak in 2006? I pulled ten grand out of our savings account without telling you to make payroll." And she's like, "You did what?"

And then we discussed it. It didn't lead to a fight. We've actually only been in two fights in our entire time together. And then she shared somethings with me, and I shared more with her.

And she's all, "Why don't you tell me these things?" And she didn't really understand it. And I said, "You know, it's really hard, honey. Because I'm running the business, and I don't want you to stress and worry about these things."

And I think that was probably one of the best conversations her and I ever had. But I don't think I could have gotten there with my spouse if I didn't have John Bairden as my chairman, and if he wasn't 23 years older than me, to have walked me through those experiences.

And that's one thing ... Out of the 23 startups, Kathleen, that I've done, I've been successful in 18 of them. By successful-

Kathleen: That's a good track record.

Bill: By successful I mean they haven't gone out of business. I'm not saying I made a ton of money in every one of them. But the interesting kind of caveat to that is I've only started two without partner.

My mother was my first partner. Jay Jacobi, who owned American Pacific T-Shirts was my second business partner. My first, my auto detailing company, was my childhood best friend.

I opened my first restaurant, Wild Bill's Texas Smokehouse when I got done playing professional golf. And I knew nothing about the restaurant business, so my CPA hooked me up with somebody in the restaurant industry to mentor me.

Whether it's paid, whether it's free, I mean, if you don't have a mentor, if you don't have a coach, I know that we're paying for information if you have to pay somebody for it, but it's probably the number one thing that I think has put me in the position that I'm in today.

Growing up without a father, it's probably a gentleman named Reginald Booth who I've been partners with in the Glow Golf business for 17 years, who has taught me more in that time than I could have ever imagined in a lifetime.

And that's why I've got John Bairden, not only as the chairman of my group, but now  him and I are co chairmen with my inner circle mastermind groups that we do. So we can progress all the way through that life-cycle of business -- from startup phase, to being a true CEO. Because I've never gotten to be a true CEO. I've never been a hundred million dollar company, or had 10,000 employees. And it's a whole different mindset. And you have to transition it each step of that growth phase.

Kathleen: I think that's excellent advice about getting a mentor. And I would say, even if you're not a business owner, even if you're starting out as a marketer in your career, I say this to people on my team all the time -- find a mentor outside of the company.

You need somebody who you can talk to who's not in it with you every day, and who can lend that perspective that sometimes is really hard to get when you're in the middle of things.

Bill: Thousand percent I agree.

Kathleen: Well, Bill, I honestly feel like I could talk to you all day. I feel like we've barely scratched the surface. But you and I both have other things to get on to. And so I'm going to shift gears for a second and ask you the two questions that I ask everyone who I speak with.
I'm really curious to hear your answers because you have a particularly diverse business background. The first question is, company or individual, who do you think is doing inbound marketing really well right now?

Bill: I would actually say Interview Valet, if you're familiar with Tom Schwab and Dan Moyle. It's a relatively new startup company. I've known both of them. They were both clients at of HubSpot when I was ... I mean, I'm still a client of HubSpot. But before the agency I met them through Sam Mallikarjunan.

I mean, Tom Schwab is everywhere. And he is creating value at anything and everything that he has the opportunity to educate marketers on podcasting and business owners. And he's doing it for free. And once again, I kind of go back to that educational component.
Dan Moyle was a huge case study for HubSpot, you know, five, six, seven years ago when he was with Amerifirst Mortgage. And he's crushing it. They're doing podcasts. They're doing content marketing. They've grown this incredible business model over the last couple of years.

I just see them absolutely crushing it. And I think they're a great model for a lot of companies to look after. They're podcasting. I don't even have a podcast, but I'm getting ready to launch one. And I'll probably be calling you to be on my podcast. But I do video. So I'm in my video studio now. And I have a dedicated employee to do video. So you can't see this, but I'm picking up my iPhone, and I'll do live broadcasts or record on my own. A lot of it's gonna be creating the video. But one of the big things, I think for me, is planning. And typically if I'm doing, like, an "Ask Limo U" show, I went in and I created the structure with Chris, my videographer and myself to where I can get between eight to twelve shows done in an hour.

Kathleen: Wow. That's great.

Bill: So I think efficiency. And I see Dan and Tom doing that. They've found what's really efficient for them to get their messaging and their education across via podcasting. And then they built a business around that. And then they're using their experience in inbound marketing, and the education on the relationship side to help them grow the business.

Kathleen: Great. Well I know Dan, and he's a wonderful, wonderful guy. And I've actually gotten some podcast guests from them. I don't know Tom as well so I'll have to look into him a little bit more and maybe have him on as a guest.

That's one of the things I love when I hear the answers to this question. It's sort of like, "That's the person I'm calling next." So thank you for sharing that. My other question is, you are obviously somebody who has invested a lot of time, and continues to invest a lot of time in educating himself on how to do marketing right, and how to stay on the cutting edge, and use all the tools available to us as digital marketers.

How do you stay educated? Where do you get your information?

Bill: It's interesting. Years ago probably HubSpot was the single source. And then in a transition I got it from everywhere. I think that's where marketers make a mistake -- they're trying to learn from HubSpot, from, you know, IMPACT, from me, from all these different agency blogs.

And then Infusionsoft, and Marketo, and Social Media Examiner, and all these different things. So something that we've done is we went through and we looked at all of our influencers. We looked at their methodologies. We looked at how they funnelized. We looked at their strengths and weaknesses. And we kind of honed in on Digital Marketer. I'm a huge Ryan Diess fan, I'm a huge Molly Pittman fan, even though she's technically no longer there anymore. Russ, their entire team.

We've been pretty much all in on Digital Marketer with my entire team. We use their HQ for training. We use their execution plans for everything from, you know, YouTube optimization to creating funnels, to product launches, which is very similar to the Jeff Walker product launch formula.

So that's kind of from the agency side and the skill set side. On the Limo University -- what I call the information side -- product launch formula. Jeff Walker has been a huge influence. I own his course, I've been to his PLF Lives a couple of times. I'm a huge proponent of using his formula.

Digital Marketer also has something similar. And then really Stu McLaren from Tribe on the membership side who really kind of started with Memberium -- he was a founder of that -- and then really cut his teeth in building Micheal Hyatt's, you know, membership program at Platform University, you know, back in the day.

So I'm not saying that we're only into DM. But that is our guiding light. That is our force. I think they stay up to speed. And one of the things that I think makes them different from the others is they practice what they preach. They own four companies. So they're going in and testing on themselves. These are all different marketing verticals. Like, survival is one of them. I think there's, cosmetics is another.

And they're testing before they put something into their membership. And that's kind of why we've almost copied their model. We're not stealing it or anything. But I love the way that Ryan kind of walks the walk and doesn't just talk the talk, which is what a lot of us do on the marketing side. So DM would probably be the number one source for us, from an educational standpoint. And that kind of goes back to our entire staff spending at least a minimum studying with them a week.

Kathleen: Yeah. They have a great platform. Big friends of IMPACT. I know, we do a lot with them as well, and have a ton of respect for Digital Marketer.

Bill: Yeah, I think Russ and Ryan were up at your guys' event, right?

Kathleen: Yep, yeah. And we're looking at doing some more things together. So I definitely second that recommendation.

Bill: Awesome.

Kathleen: All right. Well, last question for you. Because there's so much here that you've mentioned today, and I'm sure there are people who have questions, if somebody wanted to reach out to you and get more information, ask for your advice, etc, what's the best way for them to contact you?

Bill: You can email me at bill@inboundmarketingagents.com.  You can tweet me @bfaeth, B-F-A-E-T-H. Probably the easiest, where I spend the most time is on Facebook, because I have multiple groups that are on Facebook. I mean, I'm a Facebook junky.

I'm probably literally on that four, to five, maybe six hours a day. And that kind of goes back to what I talked about about going deep, and being invested. Even groups that I don't own, that I'm in, that are industry specific, if I can add value, whether it's DM or product launch formula, New Kajabi, or any of the limo groups, or Facebook Ad Buyers, I'm gonna add value. And I'm gonna take my time. Sometimes we'll even fire up Screencast, if it's a how-to as opposed to just going in and leaving a comment, or do it this way, or posting a link.

Facebook's probably the easiest. PM me. I accept almost anybody's friendship, and I've got my business page under my name as well, Bill Faeth on there.

Or you can email me. I think on my tombstone, Kathleen, I want it to read that "Bill was a giver," when I die. That's what I want to be remembered for. And I know some of you, I'm sure you have agency people that are in the silver level, or the, you know, just starting out with HubSpot, or maybe they're DM agencies, or whatever it is. Reach out to me. I'd love to have a chat with you and help you if you're struggling with anything.

And even if it's the regular business owner or entrepreneur. It's just kind of my mission, and this is the way that I try to fund that.

Kathleen: I love that you offer that and I think that that is a great way to end, because it is truly in the inbound spirit. So thank you so much for sharing everything you did today. I really enjoyed having you on. For those who are listening, if you enjoyed this, please considering giving the podcast a review on iTunes, Stitcher, or whatever platform you happen to listen on.  And if you know someone who's doing really kick ass inbound marketing work, tweet me @WorkMommyWork, because I'd like to interview them. Thanks, Bill, for joining us.

Bill: Awesome. Thank you, Kathleen.

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