This episode is part 2 of Joe's interview with Kasim Aslam.
Niching down has been the biggest key to Kasim's agency success. In this episode, Kasim shares some more valuable insights and highly actionable takeaways for agencies looking to niche down and scale to seven figures.
Kasim is the CEO & Founder of Solutions 8, a top-ranked PPC Agency. He's also a traffic coach at Digital Marketer who was hand-selected by the executive staff to be one of the four coaches for their ELITE Growth Accelerator program.
Joe Troyer 0:53
I got a little quote here from Eduardo, our Podcast Producer, as you know, we do our research and Eduardo said that he heard you say, in one of our interviews, or one of your interviews, that when it comes to driving traffic, you're not really that much better than everybody else, and that you just cheat and pick the winning horse. So first off, I love like, I love the honesty in that statement. I just gotta, I gotta pull that out and comment on that. I absolutely love that you just like threw yourself under the bus? I love the honesty in the statement. But I'm really curious, what the heck do you mean by that statement?
I feel like so we're definitely in the top 10 percentile as far as proficiency is concerned, right? Like, there's no question that we've got the data to prove it. Once you're there, though. All things are pretty much equal. Right? Like a good PPC managers good PPC, I don't have any buttons other people don't have, you know, like, we're all in it. It's not like I've accessed information people don't have like, it's all pretty much out in the open. So it's an even playing field, the thing to do there is to make sure that the campaigns that you run have a greater higher likelihood of success. The first thing we do, I've got three salespeople on staff, the very first thing to do is what we call a viability study. So you call solutions that you're like, hey, I want to give you money, we're gonna say, No, let's walk through this process. Tell me about your numbers. What, what are your margins? What what's your lifetime value of a customer? Are you in a consumable space? Is there any recurring revenue, let's look at what we think the competition is spending or, you know, what's your, what's your competitive market looks like etc, etc. and if we get to the end of that, and it doesn't look like we're gonna be successful, we don't take you as a client. And it's not as being petulant. Here's the truth, and everybody in the especially in the paid space, but in the agency space probably knows this. We're not profitable in the first 90 days, that first 90 days is a mad sprint, of trying to make this campaign work. And statistically, Google's own statistic is 50% of all Google Ads campaigns fail in the first 90 days. So if I took on everybody, half of my clients wouldn't stay, I can't afford to do that. Now it's, you know, I'm losing money. So we have to take the clients that we know are going to be successful. And the model of vetting their business has proven not only to be really profitable for us, but but the customers love the honesty. Like if I hop on with you know, my Hey, man, you don't have the margins to support paid traffic, like you can't, it's incalculable the number of people that have gone Oh, my goodness, thank you so much, like, thank you for and then they get to go beat that up, you know, like they get to go figure out a different supplier or figure out how they can improve their process or figure out an ascension model or, you know, turn into a subscription or consumable, and then they come back. So there's my favorite thought, you know, the whole world is a guy named Jordan Peterson. He's a clinical psychologist out of Toronto, and he says that one truth is the most important thing out of all, like human construct, and two as long as you tell the truth, whatever happens afterwards is the ideal outcome, regardless of whether or not you like it in the moment. And I have found that to be true in our business. We're just hyper honest with our customers manage expectations really well. And on the other end of it, we end up with these really high performing campaigns. So yeah, how's that for an answer? Joe? I hope I didn't like hop on a soapbox too heavily
Joe Troyer 4:04
No, I love it. And I love Jordan Peterson too. We might have to edit that out, though. It's a little controversial. So yeah, we're just kidding. Um, no, I love I love that mindset. I feel like so many agencies are starved for revenue, or that's how they act, even if they're not really starved, like they'll take on any client. Even if they know that they're going to turn out the other side in 90 days, even though they know the statement that you just said is completely true, which is they're not going to be profitable in the first 90 days either. Right? Which is kind of an asinine statement. Because it's like, I'm accepting the money. I know I'm not going to get to keep and I'm not going to make any profit from it's like then what why are you in business? That foresight? Most people in the agency space I don't feel like I have for some reason.
Well, I did I mean, Joe, these are hard earned lessons. Here's the thing dude is I didn't like wake up and, you know, figure all this out. I failed over and over and over and over. Over and over again. And I'm super hard headed. But you know, like a petulant child who keeps putting his hand on the stove. I slowly learned, like, hey, this hurts. So I mean, I made those mistakes so many times. And I remember papering up clients, I remember sending docu signs to people and just knowing this is horrible, this is going to, I'm going to hate this, they're not a right fit, they're going to be a pain in the hind quarters, I shouldn't be doing this. And I just gotten better at kind of listening to that, you know. And so it's a harder lesson. But hopefully, somebody out there can just learn from my mistake and not have to go through the crucible themselves. And once you get there, it's crazy to this is, you know, talking about coming from acting, I was watching this documentary called that guy from that thing, and they interview all these working actors that you'd never you don't know their name, but you've seen him everywhere. And one of the things that a bunch of them said was, you didn't start really getting gigs until you started turning gigs down. And I found that to be true in my acting world. Now, I see that to be true in the agency world, like, we didn't really start cooking with oil, like clients didn't really start seeking us out until we started turning clients down. And then all of a sudden, we were elevated from, you know, service provider begging for business to like strategic consultants, you know, those those guys are? They're good, though. They'll tell you, they'll shoot you straight up. Yeah, dude, I've got Google reviews right now from people I've never worked with, like, you know, hopped on a sales call with these guys, they they let us know what was wrong with our business and told us that they wouldn't take our money. So I think it's a good place to be and everybody can do it. It doesn't matter what service you're offering, you can tell somebody you know, before you go build their website, hey, I think that this is a flawed model. For these reasons. I'd like you to make these improvements before we take you on as a customer.
Joe Troyer 6:32
Oh, man, I love that. I'm really interested in kind of a follow up on that. I'm interested in your perspective, because I know you also do a bunch of white label like we do. And I think that that provides a very unique perspective into the industry, with working with so many agencies and seeing how they run, how they operate. And the commonalities both good and bad. I'm really curious, like, what do you think, as you look at your best white label partners and referral partners? What are the what are the top three or four things that you You see, in terms of commonalities amongst those guys,
well that's such a good question, the very first one is expectation management. They manage expectations with their clients the way that we do. So we're aligned there, because I do have so many little partners that promised the moon I've one that promises a positive role, or he'll give you your money back. And I was like, dude, I'm not going to, I'm not going to do that, like you need to that's, there's no, that's impossible. And he's very bullish, and he only takes on a very niche type of customer. And so he goes, I'm gonna eat this, it's out of my pocket. But even now, in my mind, I hope he never hears this. But in my mind, I'm like, there's no way this left. So expectation management is really big. The next one is they let us do our thing. Like, I've got some white label partners that think they know PPC, you know, I'll get phone calls, or my client managers get phone calls, like, what are we shooting for this key phrase? And it's like, cuz you're at a budget dude at 6pm, like you met at a budget at noon, you don't know the market mechanism. I don't mind being challenged at all. I think that's perfectly fair. But you do have some people that like, decide that, oh, I hired you for this job. And now I'm going to sit next to you and watch you do it and tell you how it should be done. And we jettison those pretty quickly, or, or, you know, just have to come to Jesus talk. And they end up turning into good partners. But people that don't mind stepping back and letting us do the job. Those are the ones that are most successful. And usually it's an agency that's really good at something else. You know, it's a web agency or an SEO agency that that wants to run PPC, maybe they've tried to do it in house realize they couldn't, but you know, they want to keep it in the fold. And they actually don't care about it as much like they don't respect the offering, which is to our benefit, because it means that they're not going to try to overinsert themselves.
Joe Troyer 8:43
No, I love that. I think that's definitely a key characteristic that last one of some of our most successful partners as well. They specialize somewhere else and need to add Google ads or their customers want Google ads and they want to offer a full service to some regard. And that gives them some some capabilities by working with white label. So awesome. And I think that those criteria are really good, those common traits, I would agree with all of those actually. So being a Google Ads agency, I'm curious, like, obviously, Google is always making changes. Facebook is always making changes in the marketplace. Like if there's one thing that's for certain in marketing, it is always changing and changing, you know, fast. I'm curious over the over the last 12 to 18 months, what do you think have been the biggest changes that have maybe flown under the radar that people maybe haven't given credit to or thought to? What kind of some of the aha moments for you personally over the last 12 or 18 months?
Google rolled out or announced FloC, which if you're listening and you haven't heard it's federated learning of cohorts F-L-O-C, FloC. it aligns with everybody's new obsession with privacy which by the way, actually hurts. It hurts the overarching endeavor to achieve true levels of privacy because all it's happening now is these big, you know, Techno giants are, they're building up massive walls that you can't see behind. And so you're, you're not protecting your privacy from them. You're just protecting in some instances, the ability for certain advertisers to use some of that information. But but the fact that we're not all farmers with pitchforks and torches out there protesting FloC from a marketing perspective, like it's unreal to me that people still haven't been up in arms, Google's removing the associate the one to one association an advertiser has with a website visitor, and putting these visitors into flux, into flux or groups of 1000s of people. And then instead of saying, you know, Hey, Joe, came your website, looked at these pages, look at this product, you know, put this in a shopping cart and bounced it, Google says, Hey, somebody from this FloC may have come to your site in this time range, they might have done these things and taken few of these actions, and then they see the noise, so they actually lie to you. The problem with it, though, is the FloCs are relatively easy to reverse engineer, especially if you're using fingerprinting, which is impossible for Google to stop right now. And so somebody can identify what FloC you're in, they now know more about you than if you were just a visitor, they came to their website, which is nuts, so Google's actually like giving up more information. And Facebook's worse face. Google. The amount of Google has 70 million demographic and psychographic profiling factors. Facebook has 55,000. So Google has like, Google told a woman, she was pregnant before she knew in April of 2015. It's my favorite case study to cite six years ago, dude, like based on our communication and search patterns, Google knew she was pregnant before she knew she was pregnant. And the information they have available accessible is is unfreaking. believable. And the way that they're going about bundling people in these weird human Venn diagrams, and then exposing those Venn diagrams to everybody based on these FloC IDs. I don't see a positive to it for anybody but Google, because they've been able to, you know, isolate, encapsulate, and the fact that they're talking about how they're now a privacy first company, I think, is freaking hysterical, because they're the exact opposite. Like, that's why you get all this stuff for free. If you get anything for free in the product, right? like Gmail is free, because they read all your emails, Google Drive is free, because they're reading all your documents, Google Photos is free, they know what my children look like, you know, like, it's, it's just, it's unreal. So I think flock is is a massive change. I think the move towards automation is really interesting, you know, broad match of smart bidding is actually working now, which is frickin shocking. So I don't think Google is an evil company. And you know, I don't think that they're the devil or anything, actually, in a lot of ways. I think they perform with high amounts of integrity. But they've been forced into this visit, they're terrified of an antitrust suit, they don't want the congressional hearing. So the way that they're responding to it, it's going to be really interesting to watch and a lot of things FloC really doesn't roll out entirely, I think until like mid 2022. So we're not going to see all the impacts right away. But like, you know, dynamic remarketing, I don't know how they're going to keep that if you don't have, you know, one to one association with a user. There's so many things that are about to be on the chopping block and what sucks about it, man, and I have a level of survivor's guilt, because of it, the agencies win, because you need me more than ever, the people that lose are the individual advertisers, especially the small ones, the ones that can't afford to spend in the ecosystem and make up for the data they're losing. So small businesses are going to suffer. And that's where my heart is for small businesses. So I you know, there will always be alternatives, new things will roll around, and we'll figure out the strategies to contend with it. But where things are going, this is the biggest change in my marketing life. You know, I've been doing this 15 years, it's the biggest shift for the various the very first time we've ever gone backwards in our ability to collect data. And so I think that the new emphasis, until we figure something else out, it's just going to be on creative. I think the whole world. We are all data driven marketers, and the whole world's going to shift back to creative Marketers. Now it's going to be an interesting thing to watch.
Joe Troyer 13:47
Dude, that's a super interesting perspective. You guys heard it here, first FloC, go look into it, start following it. And super excited for that great insight, man. definitely appreciate your perspective. Let's transition a little bit and let's talk about your book, man. What's your book called how the book come together?
It's called the seven critical principles of effective digital marketing. And I wrote it because I wanted to speak because I have a weird, egotistical need to be on stage. And if you want to get on, if you want to get on the right stages, everybody wants to know that you wrote a book. So I was like, Okay, I'll write a book. And I ended up really falling in love with the process. I woke I wake up every morning at 4am super early. And I would wake up and I would write 1000 words. And I learned more writing than I, you know, done taking any course or any of those things. It was it was a really awesome experience. And I poured my heart and soul into the book to a lot of people write a book to write a book, I set out that way. But I ended up writing something that I'm really proud of. And it's what I tried to do is find because you said it earlier, Joe and it was a brilliant observation. The only constant in marketing is change. So the question you know, there's the underlying thesis of my book is well, what are the facets of marketing that don't change? One of the things that you know, will hopefully be here forever. And I focused on just the principles of marketing, the first and most important being empathy. You know, empathy is akin to love. And people don't like the word love because it conjures up really weird, like, you know, woo hippies with crystals and Sedona type of whatever. But I believe very strongly that you can't market to somebody that you don't love and love again, to quote Jordan Peterson. Peterson says that love is just the desire that all things flourish. So, you know, if I say that I love somebody, it doesn't necessarily mean that I want to go take windy walks with them, it just means that I want their life to be better. And if you market to somebody, and you don't want their life to be better, you don't deserve their business A B, you're probably not going to get it. And so my book is just kind of like a it's kind of an ongoing examination of some of those principles. Empathy being the first one second principles give first, give last give more. And you notice the really good marketers, you know, you're talking about spending four grand to acquire a customer. That means you get to give, give, give, give, give, and I really love that paradigm I love. I love giving to earn business. So that's the, you know, it's it's old. Now it's 2017, which in digital marketing here is just like 50 years old, but it's cool because it was meant to be written as an evergreen piece, and I get to see whether or not it stands the test of time.
Joe Troyer 16:16
That's awesome, man. If people are interested, where can they pick the book up?
Amazon is probably the easiest place. I mean, there's other like little niche booksellers that carry it, but I think Amazon's the fastest and simplest
Joe Troyer 16:28
cool man, I love that I love I wrote down your your quote, you can't market to people that you don't love man. So true. Like if you don't care, it's going to shine through everywhere. And every dealing with the with the customer, every dealing with the prospect in fulfillment, I mean, in the product, I mean, absolutely everywhere. So nice little nugget there for sure, we'll make sure to put in the show notes. Um, man, this has been awesome. I want to be super respectful of your time, I want to ask you one more question. Just to wrap things up. Instead of asking you to recommend three books, which I feel like every podcast does, like, hey, Kasim what are your favorite three books, I always ask what I think is a little bit more of an insightful question. And I ask what's the one book that's made the biggest impact on the way that you do business or the way that your business looks today?
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. You may notice that I still
Joe Troyer 17:23
I don't think there's another book that I've read. That's, that's as chock full of value. And it's, it's absolutely timeless from a principle's perspective. And I think he he, he identified the biggest problem with 20th and 21st century business paradigm, which is the difference between the personality ethic and the character ethic. And I won't dive into it now. But in the book, he talks about how we used to humanity used to have an emphasis on a person's character. And then somewhere at the turn of the 20th century, the emphasis was now placed on personality. And it's a flawed model. And covey wants to return to the character ethic, which is returned to like underlying principles, you know, truth, honor, integrity, justice, things that that mean, that are biblical, right, they don't go away and they don't go away for a reason. And for some reason, we've like we've abandoned dude, all the great thinkers, like people don't read, you know, the great philosophers, the great theologians, the great, they now they're reading like, tips and tricks and hacky crap. You know, like, oh, if you shake somebody's hand over hand, you establish dominance. And, you know, like, I, I want to set that stuff on fire, not the books, I'm not interested in burning books, but like the ideas, the concepts are so, so nutritionally void. And I think the seven habits, it just did a really good job of identifying that pervasive problem. And then offering really specific, really, tactical, tangible steps towards avoiding avoiding that,
Joe Troyer 19:04
dude, I love it. I'm gonna have to go reread the book. I read it so long ago, man, I can, I couldn't remember what you just said. So that means I need to reread it. But I have it on the bookshelf. So that'll go back in the queue, man, thanks so much. This has been awesome. Definitely. We'll link up the book and solutions, eight in the show notes. If somebody wants to connect with you personally, where's the best place where you most active on social?
YouTube? We've got a YouTube channel as YouTube video every day. So you know, questions or comments or whatever, via YouTube get answered pretty quickly. And then I'm on LinkedIn too. And, you know, moderately accessible. Would love to connect. I'm the only Kasim Muslim I know of so you can find me pretty easily.
Joe Troyer 19:43
Awesome, man. We will link it up in the show notes. Man. Thanks so much. It's been great. Thanks for coming on and sharing with so much. So much knowledge and so much integrity.
Yeah, I appreciate you, Joe. Thanks for having me. See everybody.