Jim Huffman and his company, GrowthHIT, was an agency on the rise. 2020 was going to be the year that they hit all of their goals. They were closing the right kind of deals with the right type of clients, and their pipeline was looking very promising. Everything was on the up and up. Then COVID happened. GrowthHIT lost $400,000 in ARR within 48 hours. Apart from that, their $300,000 pipeline completely dried up. It was a total disaster. But Jim and his team laid down a strategy to bounce back. What happened next was a complete 180. They executed to perfection. GrowthHIT had its best month ever and generated $250,000 in 30 days.
In this episode, Jim breaks down all the things they did to achieve this miraculous turnaround and shares all the best practices when it comes to CRO, outbound sales, and growth marketing as a whole.
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Joe Troyer 0:43
Hey everybody, it's Joe Troyer, and welcome back to another episode of Show Me The Nuggets. I'm excited today to bring you guys a new guest, Jim Huffman. So Jim owns GrowthHIT. He's the CEO and founder which is a growth marketing agency. He's also an author of the book The Growth Marketers Playbook, which I'm definitely gonna be picking up after chatting with Jim earlier before we got kicked off and is also also a mentor at TechStars. So super excited to have Jim here with us today. Jim, how's it going?
Jim Huffman 1:15
Great Joe, pumped to be here. Thanks for having me.
Joe Troyer 1:18
Yeah, man excited to have you on we're going to be diving deep on really one topic. I'm going to talk about how you generated over $250,000 in 30 days during COVID and obviously we are coming out in South Florida man I feel like we're behind. We're still in phase one, here in Palm Beach County. So excited to see what you did over there. But before we dive in, can we kind of get a quick catch up two to three minutes man on on what brought you to digital marketing as we know it?
Jim Huffman 1:48
Yeah, of course. See, I'm you have a growth marketing agency GrowthHIT that specializes in conversion rate optimization. We've been doing this for like, four years. But how I got here. Like, out of school, I was a finance major, right? I was a finance degree. And I was like, Oh, I should like that means you have to be a consultant or an investment banker or accounting. And so I literally thought those were the three options. And I got into it. And it was kind of cool where I got to, I was doing mergers and acquisitions, which means I'm working in Excel, maybe I'd be in a meeting, I would never talk unless the numbers were wrong, and it's my fault. But when I'd go in those meetings, the lawyers you had MBAs, but the most impressive person was the founder. And sometimes they didn't have a college degree. They didn't graduate high school, but they would just own the room. It was super inspiring. And I was like, I want to go work for that guy. And so it was at a time when startups were really kind of coming up and there was one startup out of New York and I was in Dallas at the time called Urban Daddy that was kind of like the daily candy for men, that was just growing like crazy. And I went from finance to I'm doing email newsletters and writing copy and from that, I feel like if you can get lucky and be a part of a startup as like employee number 10 or 20. And then he goes to 300 you're gonna learn, you know what people learn in five years in like one year for better or worse right through it through trial by fire. And so from that, I really got into e commerce as we launched an e commerce arm. And then when I moved out to New York, I got connected with some venture firms and they wanted me to help with some companies that needed some kind of marketing or growth advice. And it just kind of snowballed, you know, as the non technical person at a couple other startups doing growth marketing to where I was doing some stuff on the side, and then I really had to make a decision like, wow, should I like, go all in and really try and turn this consulting thing into a potential agency. So that's kind of the roundabout way of getting to GrowthHIT that I feel like a lot of agency owners kind of stumble into it by accident. So I'm similar to that.
Joe Troyer 3:55
Okay, so that's cool. That's an impressive background. I liked what you said too. About you know, coming in at, you know, employee number 10 or 12, and then being along for the ride. That's super interesting. Were you able to do that in a company or two? I can only imagine the expansion during that time and the pressure in the, it's either brilliant or it's awful, right, depending on how you look at it.
Jim Huffman 4:21
Yeah, no, totally. And I like accidentally did I think some smart things at the time were like, I was employee like, 27. And we grew to 200. And they didn't really know where to put me. They're just like, you know, he'll work hard. So throw him on stuff. And so there'd be like, a miserable project come up. It's like, you know, we've got to like, overhaul the CRM who wants to do that? And I'll be like, I guess I'll do it. And the thing that like, if you take on that project that nobody wants to do but it's a senior level, you can quickly accelerate your growth. And all of a sudden, I'm working with the C suite. The CEO needs to know what's going on. So I'm doing like late night meetings with the C suite. As I'm like this 25 year old every night and so just being a fly on the wall in those rooms was huge. And I think the other thing is you're an early employee at these companies like embrace that you're in the like, learn rather than earn phase, embrace that you're the dumbest person in the room, but just try and like outwork everybody and just be a sponge, because that can pay off down the road. By learning from that experience.
Joe Troyer 5:27
That's awesome. I love that story. And I think so many people are sold the entrepreneurship story and believe that they can get somewhere without some hustle and without some grit and determination. And by all means, I don't I'm not a huge Gary Vee believer. I think working that way forever is a recipe for disaster. There has to be like a balance and you know, there's some type of scale to things. But I think that a lot of people these days are sold dreams that aren't really real. And I love what you said about having to really, you know, raise your hand take on the projects that maybe aren't comfortable. But yeah, that are senior level projects that you were able to grab and, you know, put in extra time. But getting that time with the C suite and getting noticed and building your relationships and putting in the time is a is awesome. I love that.
Jim Huffman 6:21
Oh, no, no 100% man, like everyone's got to pay their dues to some degree. But if you can try and be strategic about that grunt work, then then it could pay off.
Joe Troyer 6:31
That's awesome. So starting your agency was the first name GrowthHIT... was your first name GrowthHIt of your agency?
Jim Huffman 6:38
It was I was, as we're trying to jump on the growth marketing craze. I'm like, I've got to have growth in the name and it's one of those horrible exercises of growth plus insert word and there's so many horrible ones. I can't remember. But yeah, so that's how we settled on it.
Joe Troyer 6:54
Does that? Does that bother you some days like it sounds like you're like yeah. I'm not extremely obsessed with the name or I wouldn't change it. Maybe I heard your voice a little bit. I like the name. That's why I ask.
Jim Huffman 7:06
No, I like it. If anything I wish I would have done maybe one H, I'm not sure why I went with the double H's, but no, I'm good with it.
Joe Troyer 7:16
Gotcha. All right. So fast forward to today. Tell us about GrowthHIT like who you guys working with? What are you predominantly doing? Who do you guys specialize in? And tell us tell us about growth that more?
Jim Huffman 7:27
Yeah, for sure. So we kind of started off as generalist growth marketers. And I think a lot of people that are in the agency world kind of get to this fork in the road where it's like, I try and be everything everybody or do I really niche down. And that's when we started to see like, where we're where we're good, and we're bad and where we're really great. And we are kind of obsessed with conversion rate optimization. You know, so many people are spending so much time and money on sending that expensive traffic to the website, but then what's the plan after that, and so on. The happiest clients are the ones where we're really starting to show ROI on our on site experiments. And so we went all in on CRO, like we still do paid ads on social, we do retention marketing with email. But that's it, in addition to CRO, CRO is the core of it. And so we work really well with companies that, you know, they're getting a significant amount of traffic so we can run enough we can run A B tests with significant data. We're doing really well with clients that are on Shopify that are in e commerce that have a very clear average order value and lifetime value. And we work quite a bit like because we mentor with Tech Stars, usually it's high growth startups after they've done maybe an A or B round of funding, because they've proven traction, they've got enough money in the bank to really hit that growth level. So we're able to pay for ourselves and then some, so just in the past year and a half, kind of making that you know, kind of it was kind of a tough decision or not tough just a nervous decision for me because it means you're saying no to things, but to really go all in on conversion rate optimization, and it is hands down the best thing we've done.
Joe Troyer 9:13
That's awesome. Sd, do you, you said, ecom, do you play in other fields as well? There's ecom kind of your space. And is there anymore specialty within that?
Jim Huffman 9:21
Yeah, we basically anytime we can do a transaction on the side. So it's like, it's e commerce, especially Shopify. We love lead generation sites, and then Software As A Service sites where they're getting enough traffic, especially when there's the conversion with the pricing page. Those are the three we really like. The other thing that's actually just in the past four months it's been really fun is online education. Just because the demand has gone up so much. All these companies that were like doing outbound are quickly focused on inbound because they're getting so much traffic, so they care about on site conversion, but those are the ones where we really play.
Joe Troyer 9:59
Yeah, and that's That's really interesting. Cool. So um, let's say an agency is listening or marketers listening right now, what are like the top two or three kind of playbook strategies or go to strategies that you guys implement that, you know, are kind of pretty much kind of canned wins every time. What? What's the go to strategies for you guys? Like, I don't have a CRO agency, right? I have a pay per click agency SEO agency. If I wanted to start using CRO in my own agency, what are the kind of plays I would turn to immediate? Where would you tell me like, yo, focus on this, like, stay away from this? Like, what advice would you give?
Jim Huffman 10:36
Yeah, I'll put into kind of two buckets. The first thing that I would absolutely do like I think most companies are fairly good at quantitative analysis. All that means is, they know how much traffic they're getting. They know the add to cart percentage. They know the conversion rate. They know that they know what's happening on their website. What they don't know is why doing the qualitative, like doing the heat maps ddoing this session recordings doing the voice of customer surveying. And this stuff, by the way is super boring, like literally watching a screen recording like you fall asleep. But the thing is that that's where the gold is. That's like where the insight is where you can truly understand those three to seven objections that people actually have. Because once you know that, that transforms a whole growth strategy. So right away, we're like, okay, let's start running that research because that drives our entire strategy. So that's the first thing is doing that. And by the way, like, almost everybody's ignoring that which is good for us. But it's also that that's where the insights are. The second thing is, you know, as you're looking where you can have the biggest impact, okay, what pages get the most traffic? What is the traffic source? Is it paid traffic? Is it free traffic, really trying to quantify the ROI on what you're actually doing? So we're usually building an ROI model because we want to show that we can pay for ourselves. And so that's something that we're doing and like, even just best practices for a landing page. So Optimizely, which is a testing tool had this cool study of, they analyzed like 2000 plus landing pages and they had a formula here the five things to do to make a landing page that converts. One is like your headline should not say what your top feature is, it should be second person use the word you and benefit focus. You gotta have social proof your call to action should be unique. Your copy below the headline, that's where you can talk about your future, but use language of your customer. And then I think that fifth is an actual image or video that aligns with the aspiration of your persona. So for us out of the gate, it's doing the research and really looking at their key landing pages if it aligns with some of those best practices.
Joe Troyer 12:46
Yeah, that's, that's great stuff on the landing pages. So quick, quickly, to recap, I guess objections, figuring out those using heat maps. You know, some type of screen recording software, figuring out the top three to seve, to then really nailing the ROI. And I love that and figuring out what that is worth, write that test. If you can move the needle, getting really clear on that, I think is super important. And then the landing page tips. So I guess a couple of follow up questions based on that on what What's your goal for a client ROI? Like when you take on a client? Do you have very specific right goals coming out the other side that kind of help you understand? Is this the right fit? Is this not the right fit? And talking with literally 10s of thousands of agencies? It's it's a, it's very interesting to see kind of the filters that they have and the goals that they have. And it seems like the ones that really grow and scale on or Uber clear on their outcomes are the ones that really perform well in the marketplace.
Jim Huffman 13:46
Yeah, no, you're 100% right. Because if you don't have those things decided up front your retention is is not going to be good on those clients. And I've learned that the hard way for sure. So for us right out of the gate, we asked for Google Analytics read only access because like, Okay, how much traffic do they have? What is their average order by what's their lifetime value and we're running a model. If we can increase conversion by x percentage, how much additional revenue do we have? Because if that significantly pays, if that pays for our retainer, and then some, then we're really excited. But if it's like breakeven, or we have to really do a lot to even make it ROI positive, we probably won't want to move forward just because it's we want to take on clients that we just kind of, in the back of our mind, like, we know, we're gonna nail this. The second thing I'm doing is, you know, can we run enough experiments to have a significant win to get that So for us, in 90 days, that's our timeframe where we're trying to run an experiment per week. So that's 12 and a quarter. And the goal is if we can get 30% of those to win of significance, we're going to pay for ourselves because we don't really tell the client this but like within 90 days, we basically want to pay for ourselves for almost a year. So was just a no brainer to work for us. And then the other thing we're doing like, even before we launch, we want to have access to all the tech stack and things set up. So we can, on week one, get a simple experiment going. Because when we don't do that, and things get stalled, it takes a week, two weeks to get live. That does not work out. Well. So those are some of the things that we're, we're looking at whenever we're trying to, like, make sure we have a good project going. Alright, so
Joe Troyer 15:27
you got some really good nuggets in there that want to make sure unpack. So I wanna have a follow up on setting expectations. How do you set expectations with a client? Right? So you said like, your goal internally is to pay for yourself in three months? How do you then properly set the expectations with the client? Right? Yeah. How do you give yourself enough room or kind of what's your thought? How do you how do you set that expectation? Knowing that your goal is right, I'm gonna I'm gonna breakeven or pay for myself for the year in the first three months. So it's an easy win. How do you that can correlate that To make sure that you don't oversell yourself, undersell yourself, and the client buys into the long term, not just the short term, right? You guys not gonna part for the first three months? Yeah, thanks Jim, see you later
Jim Huffman 16:12
Right, those are such good questions. So like, the first thing is like we sometimes we have to sell them on the impact of care. Oh, right. So it's like, that's where we need to be the model. It's like, hey, if we increase things by 20, 30, 40%, here's the additional revenue you'll have. And ideally, that will pay for ourselves. So that sells the dream. But you're right. Now we've got to manage expectations because like, Oh, where's that extra 50 k a month, you promise? Then we start showing case studies and our case studies. It's not like greatest hit, greatest hit, greatest hit and it's like, okay, here's the insight we learned from the research. Here's a test we ran that failed. But by the way, then we learn this then led to this experiment, and this one worked. And the whole goal is to show how if it's not about winning tests, I mean, it is about winning tests, but it's about testing velocity. If we're running A test each week that compounds, we're going to get to that result. And that's really trying to reiterate a win rate of like 15 to 30%. Because a lot of times people don't know that they just assume every test you're going to do is going to win. And it's the complete opposite. but to also answer your questions like okay, that's great. You've you've set, you've got them excited about it. You're hopefully setting expectations for you know, not every test is going to win. but what about the three months when you've delivered? You've increased by 40%? How do you keep them for the long haul? For us, that's where the research component comes in. Because I feel like at any agency owner, there's two categories you're going to be put in by a client one is are you a strategic thought leader, they go to for advice, or are you an order taker where they think they know everything and they're just telling you what to do? Because the second year, the order taker, it's really hard to get out of that hole and I've been in that hole before. So if you own the data and the research and the insights that makes you so when they go to for advice You can be with for the long haul. That's why everything we do we try and anchor in research because one, it's it makes our experiments easier to come with ideas. And two, it puts us in that strategic thought leader category.
Joe Troyer 18:10
Yeah, love that. That makes perfect sense. I was concerned when you said that you're going to pay for yourself in the first 90 days that like, that's great, but like such a big win, right? It's like, why not just like, how do they see the value of moving forward? Like thanks for the easy win, Jim, see you later. Next year, and you can do the same thing for us. You know, when I when I'm when I see people selling SEO, right, you got you got short term problems to get a win. But in 90 days, I can deliver a win that can show the client that I'm the right vendor. And that's always the problem with SEO is just do I have the right guy or am I getting kind of pulled over the barrel yet again, and so I have a 12 month contract that auto renews every year, but it's a 90 day out They got 90 days to test me and I'm gonna hit KPIs that are gonna pay for myself in the 90 days, but also keep showing them the ramp, right and keep showing them the future. And so I can spend all of my marketing budget every dollar, right and and put as much time as possible and potential in that campaign in the first 90 days, which is the hardest, right? And I know with certainty that 75 to 80% of the time, we're going to retain that client, right. And so I don't care spending every dollar and making sure that we get wins in the first 90 days, right that are going to continue to propel us for the rest of the year.
Jim Huffman 19:36
So I I'm really impressed. You have the 90 day out. We have a, we make them commit to three months and then a 30 day out. But we're we're trying to push ourselves to be more aggressive, honestly to get to that level because i think that's that's really a good way to go. The thing that we've seen work extremely well with retention is when we can get them to do another service. With us, so if we can run their email automation or newsletters or do social ads, that is very helpful with retention. We're not even looking to make necessarily a big margin on that we'll even break even. Just because it's so good for the lifetime value.
Joe Troyer 20:16
Yeah, I mean, you get, you get so ingrained in their business to write on handling more than one thing, that it's harder to turn you off because you've got your hands wrapped around more. And you can show a bigger lifetime value exactly is to stack those things. That's awesome. So man, I've been holding back trying to get the complete story and get caught up. But man, I want to I want to know all about this headline, man. The 250 k in one month from COVID. You know, and how you were able to really, you know, rally during COVID I'm excited to break down a little bit. I got to know how to do it.
Jim Huffman 20:53
Yeah, well, yeah. So like, given like the context like we were, I think like a lot of people super excited about 2020 is like The year it's gonna be a great year, we're gonna hit all of our goals. And we were seeing like, our pipeline was looking pretty good. We were finally closing deals that were the right deals, the right clients, the right price, whereas most people starting out, you're just trying to take whatever, but we were finally getting selective. And so we're literally about to make two hires, and then all of a sudden, you know, COVID hits, and it hits quite significantly with us, as I said, some of our clients raised a round of funding. So right away their cash flows a little fragile, so COVID hits and it just wipes them out. So we lose half of our business, worth seven figures, we lose half of our business in 48 hours, and I'm just like, wow, that hurts, like two years of work in your pipeline to make that happen. And so, and not only that, but our pipeline just completely dried up. So many clients that weren't essential products, just just evaporated. So we're, you know, trying to figure out what to do. And it's interesting because I don't know about you, but most most ways when you think about growth, you're like, I want repeatable and scalable. You know, I need things for the long haul. And I completely flipped that script. I'm like, no, I care about non scalable and immediate, you know, I don't care if it's repeatable, let's just kind of fill the pipeline. And so one thing, I think a lot of people whenever you have a problem or an issue, you kind of like think you have to take an all on by yourself. And I'm like, you know what, I'm not smart enough for that I should probably find the smartest people I know. I'm just gonna lay out my situation, lay out a strategy and get their feedback. And so I did that I have like an executive coach. I have kind of like a marketing mentor, who's like a high up at a publicly traded company and like a kind of a founder mentor. He's actually younger than me, but he's been in the game longer and I get really good advice from him. So I just went laid out. Okay, here's the situation. Here's what I'm thinking and we kind of came up with the plan. And so we decided to so many people are looking around for advice, like how can we be thought leaders right now. So whether it's like a point to gather data that we're seeing from the landscape that we're in. And also doing historical data on, you know, coven hasn't happened before. But huge downturns have happened before what companies emerged out of that successfully. And what are the things they did, so we started just talking about this, we started doing webinars, we started doing virtual lunch and learns. We have an email list. That's not huge, but we were just hitting it up with just content trying to add value. And by doing that, we slowly started to get the conversation going. The other thing that we did, we got very aggressive with account based marketing, meaning the companies and industries that were actually impacted positively by COVID, we started doing pre ads to them and doing essentially email outreach to them. So and we started spending more on ads. So those three things started to get like that pipeline moving again and we got lucky that the online education space started to prove very well for us. And same with some e commerce companies and food delivery companies where you could kind of position them as essential right now. But yeah, that those were kind of the three ways we tried to write the ship and were able to close some deals because because our average retainer, you know, is between 7500, 10 grand a month, so, if you close three to five companies with a small business like us, that's significant.
Joe Troyer 24:28
That's huge, 100% Yeah, that makes perfect sense. That's awesome, man. Congratulations, and way to rewrite the book, so to speak, right, like completely 180 turn.
Jim Huffman 24:39
Well, I'm still paranoid. So we'll say man, every morning you wake up, it's like what's going on? So we'll see.
Joe Troyer 24:46
Cool, man, let's, uh, let's transition a little bit. Tell us about the book, the growth marketers playbook on how this all kind of get come together. Why'd you write this or why did you write it?
Jim Huffman 24:56
Yeah. So I was I was living in New York at the time. And I was teaching at General Assembly. It's a continued education for professionals. It's just a very basic digital marketing class. And then I was doing some kind of mentoring and in small talks with Tech Stars and some, some other venture capital firms, and I just I had all this content, I had all these slides, I'm like, I should do something with this. And what was nice about doing so many classes, I was able to really, you know, present it to people get their feedback on what resonated, what helped, what didn't help what people already knew, or things that kind of opened their eyes. And after going through that exercise, I was like, I'd love to just package this up to kind of make it you know, a way to get it out to people a little bit more scalable, a little bit more efficiently. So, yeah, I was able to compile all of it into a book into a workshop and put it out there and the other fun part was, you know, trying to market a marketing book because it's like if you're any good at marketing, you should probably back it up and market the book,. So, I was like, okay, crap, I need to figure out how to do that. So that was that was a fun exercise in itself. We did get to number one on Amazon for 72 hours and beat Seth Godin until he started marketing and then he just zoomed right past us, but I have a screenshot to prove it, but he's a little bit better at that than me.
Joe Troyer 26:19
That's awesome. And that's like when we did the original launch of the podcast, we beat out Gary Vee for like, two days. I'm beating Gary Vee and then like, and then I just like, you know, just tanked but for a moment there man, on top of the world. And it really helped actually, like get us a lot of momentum because, because we did a whole campaign like that we're beating Gary Vee. A whole marketing campaign. And it was great. And we got, you know, everybody that even knew of me and or one of my companies was on the bandwagon. Cheering and cheering and writing a review. And so it was great. It worked really well, even though it didn't last.
Jim Huffman 27:06
Yeah, I should have made a campaign out of it. That's a smart move.
Joe Troyer 27:10
So, we were running, we were running ads all over the place, retargeting and kind of warm audiences, audiences that knew me, we had liked similar marketing things, right. So it was, it worked well.
Jim Huffman 27:24
That's cool. That's awesome.
Joe Troyer 27:25
So, um, we just had on the podcast, Walker Deibel, who's the author of a book called Buy Then Build, on the show, and really similar background as you honestly in finance and in kind of his journey, so to speak. And he made a great case for kind of what he calls the acquisition entrepreneur, and really buying a business from scratch and, and talking about why that's a better why that's a better use case then starting from zero in trying to get to one As Peter Thiel would say, I'm curious, just similar background, right? But obviously doing very different things. What what's your take on that? Jim?
Jim Huffman 28:10
Yeah, I, I bought that book a few years ago. My uncle actually knows him and recommended it. The title alone just kind of threw me off guard. I was like, Oh, my God, I love that title. And then I follow Andrew Wilkinson of Tiny Capital, who's trying to be like the Berkshire Hathaway of the internet. And then Ryan Kolb, who does Fork Equity does a similar model. And I'm kind of mildly obsessed with it.
Jim Huffman 28:35
Because startups fail for a lot of reasons. One of it is there's some really smart people behind startups, but they have to take on a skill set that is so foreign to them, of going from zero to one or they have to wear so many hats, do customer interviews and understand it, it's just like it you're setting yourself up to fail if you can get past that initial hurdle and take on something with traction, then you can focus on what you're good at if that's product development, sales or marketing. So I absolutely love that idea if you can find an acquisition target that is lacking where your strength is, or if you have a proven way to to scale it. Because it's something we've been thinking about, it's like, Okay, if there's a good product where we could bolt on, you know what we do, or if they're getting great organic traffic, but have really bad CRO, we would love to do that. So it's something that, like, we as an agency are actually looking to invest in with that same model, because we've seen so many smart people do startups that have failed. I do think it is something that's kind of micro private equity. That's going to be really, really popular.
Joe Troyer 29:46
Yeah, that's awesome. Cool. So very similar thought processes me as well. I've been very, very obsessed with it for almost 18 months that I think I'm super obsessed with a book and then ran into Walker in person and got to chat and then ended up having him on the podcast. So I'm curious then kind of similar train of thought, but different just what your thought is on expenses to revenue, or ETR. What I mean is looking at, you know, if you look at your cash flow statement, what your expenses are, and trying to figure out, you know, how do you capitalize on those better? How do you turn those from expense centers, so to speak into profit centers?
Jim Huffman 30:27
Yeah. So kind of, like, the way I think about it is, you know, like, as an agency, like you can have good margins if you have good systems and you're running it the right way. And it's like, Okay, if you have those good margins, what are you doing with that capital? are you investing in people in marketing or agency or can you reinvest that into, you know, an initiative building something or buying something? So one thing we're trying to do is, we have the kind of head lab ventures where you know, we have this kind of little nest egg where we would like to be in a very offensive position to go out and acquire things, but the thing we're trying to understand is, you know, what industries, what sectors? What is the profile, what is the cost? And so that's something we're going through, we kind of call it the tenure test where what is a tool or industry that we will actually be paying for, for like the next 10 years. So very obvious examples are like Slack, Zoom, online education, podcast type of things, like we're very, very bullish on. And so for us, we're trying to play that game of dipping our toes in the waters and things that we're very, very excited about.
Joe Troyer 31:34
Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, we're, I feel like that one's a little easier to tackle at least for us internally than than buying a business. And I bought and flipped and sold and bought and held companies. I love the idea. I feel like it's I feel like it's a lot harder to execute though, then you would like it to be right finding it alone is like a needle in a haystack. Right, the right opportunity. So I feel like I get really excited about it, but the project doesn't really move. Because it takes a lot to find the right project. So we've been spending a lot of energy instead on kind of big expenses to revenue, and taking all the things that we you know, all the all the software applications and kind of all the high, high, you know, expense items in our agency and turning those into profit centers instead. And that's been, that's been really cool to see.
Jim Huffman 32:30
Yeah, that's awesome.
Joe Troyer 32:31
So, um, let's, uh, with your with your book, what's, what's the goal of your book? Is that a lead generator for the agency at the end of the day? What was your thought going into that?
Jim Huffman 32:44
Yeah, one. So here's our big kind of secret sauce to sales that we've realized. If we can get on a call with someone who has already viewed us as a thought leader, meaning they like, came to one of our talks, they watched one of our webinars then The close rate goes up significantly higher, and it's usually not competitive. And so I had to really the goal of the book was kind of lead generation. I also so, what's interesting is I probably sold the most on Amazon, but I made significantly more on Gumroad. Because you could also package it with the course in a video and whatnot. And I think it's Nathan Berry has a really good book called Authority where he kind of lays out the pricing model for that, but but yet to it's a long winded answer to your question, but lead generation and thought leadership was was the goal.
Joe Troyer 33:36
So that's awesome. I'm curious, then, was your goal to generate a lot of new leads with the book or to more to turn existing lead flow right into thinking that you're a thought leader, just positioning wise with the book? Does that make sense?
Jim Huffman 33:52
Yeah, no, definitely. It was definitely to get new leads because nobody knows about me or GrowthHIT so it's very top of the funnel. Just trying to make noise like, Hey, we exist. We know our stuff. Here you go. It's so funny too, because writing a book it, I don't know, just by saying you wrote a book and you can say it's the best seller even though it was literally a best seller for like 48 hours. And it has this like stamp of social proof that has opened doors where I think myself and my team has done much cooler and better things, but it's just like, I don't know, it's something that people can understand and associate with.
Joe Troyer 34:28
It's so funny that you say that because I feel like in our little entrepreneur marketing bubble, so to speak, I feel like it's so played out, right? Being a best selling author, but that doesn't mean like, just because that's how we feel or that's how a lot of people feel, doesn't mean that that's what prospects, people that we're going after would feel. And I feel like a lot of times fake assumptions that that's just like, that's how everybody else feels as well.
Jim Huffman 34:55
Yeah, but yeah, no, that's a great point because I couldn't agree more because I was like to even do this on Amazon. Don't want to That hassle, but yeah, totally agree.
Joe Troyer 35:03
So, um, what what are some other things that you've done, Jim, that you feel like have done a good job of positioning yourself as a thought leader? Obviously the book is, is major.
Jim Huffman 35:13
Yeah. I think for me, it's like trying to lean on the side of like creating more than you consume and adding value without worrying about getting anything in return like I like because I taught at General Assembly in New York for like, three years, I am in Seattle now and I kept teaching and then I started teaching through the ANA, and then I'll do like a free webinar with anybody. And what's funny is like, a lot of times you won't see the immediate ROI from it. But like three months, six months, even, like, even like was COVID was happening. So it was like, Oh, hey, I was at a webinar you did a year and a half ago want to see if we could potentially work with you. And we ended up closing them like wow, how lucky is that? And so I think just the more you are like genuine authentic and just put yourself out there and try and help and add value. For me it was teaching. I think that's the best thing and it just helps you sharpen yourself to stay sharp because if you're talking in front of a room, supposedly an expert, you can get a million different questions it makes you want to be sharp, so you don't look like a fool
Joe Troyer 36:19
100% nobody wants to look like a fool. So what's next? what's what's on the what's on the vision board? What's on the path? Where you going? You know, what's, what's the next chapter, so to speak?
Jim Huffman 36:33
Yeah, so like COVID for us, like really exposed some things like we were doing fairly well. So we got comfortable. I wouldn't say lazy, but we got comfortable where you didn't have to be as strategic and focused on diversifying channels, repeatable, scalable tactics. And so it was the ultimate stress test, because all suddenly couldn't do offline speaking pipeline dried up, we had to find a new way to acquire clients. So it made us get our sales. Strategy down or outreach strategy down? How are we doing content on a repeatable basis. And so now that we have this machine going, like I'm extremely energized by it, but it's just one portion, right, the sales side, the thing that we're doing is really trying to position ourselves in the CRO space as thought leaders. So we've launched this site called Funnel Tear Downs, where it's a free content site, we're all we're trying to do is any startup or coming to just raise a lot of money that is hitting hyper growth, we're essentially reverse engineering their funnel and be like, Hey, here's everything they're doing, from the onboarding, to activation to their email strategy, their ad strategy, and just trying to hand it over. And the goal there is kind of what I said before, like we want to position be positioned as thought leaders. And this is a way for us to do it at scale where we don't have to go do one off talks, and hopefully it doesn't mean we have to travel because that's that's not happening anytime soon. So So for us, it's really investing in that as we're looking to build the agency because we also finally, got all the boring stuff, the the SOP, the operations in place to prepare for scale, and it took us much longer than we wanted. But we were able to bring on people and train them up to work with us.
Joe Troyer 38:16
Well, it's awesome. So my audience , would kill me if I didn't ask what's working now in terms of outbound sales, I get a ton of outbound sales questions, tips, tricks, and I get a lot of questions around that. So I got to ask?
Jim Huffman 38:31
yeah, I'd say it's twofold. One is, we will do free work if we have qualified the client to be like, wow, this is the sweet spot. If we close them, we know this will work. And that free work can be in the form of doing a free conversion on it. It can be a free model, but we only present those in person or not in person, but over like zoom. So that's one thing another thing if you have enough data, to give market insights and intelligence That can be really good. But it kind of sums up to giving free content doing free work. And also, what's nice is, it's a good way for them to really see how you work. Because if you have a sharp team that can really execute, then it plays in your favor but it's definitely a numbers game. As we're doing outreach, cuz we're, we're, we're kind of scraping a few different lead generation tools. We're then you know, pulling all the information so we have it right. We're using Mailshake to do outbound and, and we're trying like, I don't know, we're very, like short and concise with our emails. And we're like, if you don't want this opt out, we'll stop emailing you, but like, do this we'll do it for free, let us know. So try to be just very black and white, not too cutesy with our stuff, that's kind of what we're doing on the lead side. We're also testing a lot of, you know, kind of warming them up with ads on LinkedIn, and on social. So hopefully before they see the email, they've seen it Where they're somewhat aware of GrowthHIT.
Joe Troyer 40:02
Gotcha, gotcha. So, to break that down really going after the right audience, obviously, you're doing cold email to the right audience that you know is qualified, and really short email making an offer that hopefully they can't refuse. And if they can just make it easy for them to bump out
Jim Huffman 40:20
100%. And I think, for us, it's about how much traffic they have. So you can usually get their Alexa ranking and kind of there's a calculator figure if they have enough traffic. And so for us, that's a that's a big tell. I bet for SEO is probably easier. You can just grab the URL and pump it into Sem Rush or something and get some good insights.
Joe Troyer 40:40
Yeah, for sure. much easier, cool, man. So I want to wrap it up. Instead of asking you to recommend three books. We do something a little different here. Show Me The Nuggets like everybody does that every podcast is like what's your top three books, Jim? On? We asked them as you look at your business Today, right and what it looks like today, what book do you think has made the biggest impact on the way that you do business or the current representation of your business? And why?
Jim Huffman 41:11
Yeah, I think the one that is like so timely for right now. So I'd say that anyone listening, like where I'm at, as you know, most agencies kind of start off as a glorified Freelancer that maybe has some virtual assistants helping them or whatever, like, like, I would call myself a CEO, but it was a lie, I was doing all the work, and I'd have some people helping me and then eventually, you can fire yourself, hopefully, we're, you know, whether you're hiring below you, or you're hiring senior people, to where you can start working on the business rather than in the business. And that's where we've finally gotten to where I'm able to have people significally smarter than me, you know, start executing. And so I've been talking to my executive coach, I'm like, you know, how do I do this the right way. And so he's very big on the book Scaling Up. And so one thing we've been working on is a strategy portion of that book. I wouldn't call that a book. It is a workbook where you have to get into those exercises. But it asks you some really hard questions that you don't know the answer to that you feel like you need to know the answer to, to help run a real business. So anyone that's graduating from being this Freelancer to actually a business owner, and you like frameworks, that book has helped me quite a bit.
Joe Troyer 42:21
Awesome. And that's a great recommendation, definitely would highly recommend. And I love that explanation that gave as well, right, why is it important? And why now in your journey, or the phase of business that you're in? And it's really the reason why I like asking the question. The way that I do is because everybody's at a different place in their business. So seeing the reflection of what this is what's important at this stage is cool. And I had kind of a different point of view than I think most people ask that question.
Jim Huffman 42:50
Yeah, I love how Yes, because the right book at the right time of life is just transformative. You know, I'm sure like a lot of people I think I read the Four Hour Workweek in my 20s I was like, yep, that's it. That's what I want to do.
Joe Troyer 43:04
Done retire. It's over.
Jim Huffman 43:08
Joe Troyer 43:10
So awesome. So Jim, man, I just want to say thanks for coming on. It's been awesome getting to know you, we'll make sure to link you up in the in the show notes below. Make sure to link up on GrowthHIT, we'll make sure to link up your book as well. The Growth Marketers Playbook, the new Funnel Tear Downs website will stick in there. And then lastly, Jim, where are you the most active on social media if somebody wants to reach out and talk to you guys about the business?
Jim Huffman 43:35
Yeah for sure, I'm on Twitter, just Jim W. Huffman on Twitter. And then my email is just firstname.lastname@example.org so I'm around.
Joe Troyer 43:42
Awesome man, thanks so much for coming on. Really appreciate it.
Jim Huffman 43:45
Yeah. Thanks, Joe. Appreciate it.
Joe Troyer 43:46
See you everybody.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai