Gone are the days of print marketing – the age of digital marketing has arrived and flourished. That’s why marketers have immediately flocked to digital channels like social media and have been immensely successful at it. But digital marketing is a science; numbers-driven marketing is what makes its approach sound.
One particular marketer, 29-year-old David Schloss, Founder and CEO of ConvertROI, a company that specializes in social media advertising, manages an astronomical yearly ad-spend budget of over $15 million dollars. Today, he shares his entrepreneurial journey and a really really neat tip for young entrepreneurs looking to get involved in the agency world.
Steven: How did you get involved in the marketing and advertising world?
David: Having started my first marketing business during college, I have been in the online marketing space for over 10 years. At the time I wanted to learn more about why some startups would have amazing products and fail – it all came down to marketing. I feel in love with the concept that I could somehow help companies get the word out about their amazing products and services.
Steven: Did you always know you wanted to get into entrepreneurship or was there a pivotal point in your life that pushed you to do so?
David: I would say that I always had the entrepreneurial bug. During college I thought I would wound up going into finance or something like that, but with a series of unfortunate events, I deviated away from that. At that point starting my own business happened out of necessity because I needed to be able to work from the comfort of my own home. And that’s where the interest in starting an agency really blossomed.
Steven: Managing such a large ad-spend budget must require constant meticulousness. Tell us more about that.
David: I’m managing $2.5 million per month; it definitely does require a lot of responsibility, honesty, and understanding for what works and what doesn’t in growing companies digitally. You can somewhat become delusional with your targeting efforts, especially when you have a lot of ad-spend budget to work with, and it is definitely possible to blow money at a rate you’ve never done before if you’re not meticulous.
Steven: What is a mistake you made when you first got started in business and how can the young entrepreneurs reading this avoid the same pitfalls?
David: I made the mistake of not getting a mentor when I just got started. I was actually 25 years old, about 7 years in, when I got my first mentor. There’s nothing wrong with that but at some point you get stuck. I advise getting a mentor to help scale whatever business it is that you are growing. Personally, my mentor helped me get to managing 1 to 2 million dollars a month. That person also helped me get to the first seven-figure revenue year. The next mentor is helping to get to 3-5 million in revenue in year. The important lesson is that mentors can really help your business grow at a much quicker rate than if you didn’t have anyone experienced to ask questions.
Steven: When you first got into the agency world how did you approach getting your clients to get the business off the ground?
David: The agency world is cutthroat because experience is really valued. It’s a marketplace where generally the agency that can provide clients with the best ROI, numerically, would emerge successful. This inevitably means that it is very difficult for young people to break into the industry. When I was 25 and going through a rebrand, I reached out to a ton of agencies asking to partner up, to fulfill their overflow client-work. That helped me generate revenue as well as build up a massive portfolio. Fulfilling overflow client work from larger agencies is amazing because you don’t have to spend any money on lead-gen [lead generation]. All I had to do was put out a case study and then was able to get my next client just like that.
Steven: Wow, that’s amazing. But how exactly did you approach outreach? Was it cold emailing?
David: Well sometimes. Mostly I worked within warm markets, reaching out to people I had some sort of mutual connection with. I would hop on a calll for 15 minutes and just let them know about what I did with no intention to close them. I’d tell them I’d been Facebook ads for 7 years and was looking to build and partner with other agencies to help with excess lead flow. It’d be really simple calls. I’d put the possibility of partnering up on the table and generally speaking many agencies are open to having 3rd-parties handle overflow client-work.
To conclude the interview, we asked David for his 3 tips to young entrepreneurs:
- Start Creating Travel Schedule: Find ways to connect with people. My business was built off connections. Get offline and get involved in meeting people face-to-face. If they can associate your face to a name then they know your demeanor and the connection is automatically there.
- Find Out Where Influential People Are: Start out with local events, and then work yourself up to something more secretive or even some sort of club. Go step by step and be meticulous about it. That’s how you’ll be able to locate the influential people in each community and meet them eventually.
- Keep Track of Your Results and Provide Then to People: Results that you can track are the best lead-generator. Never forget that.
David, being so young, has a long journey in marketing ahead of him. Having already experienced managing a monthly $2.5 ad-spend budget, there is no doubt he’ll continue to grow his company and help clients reach their end customers effectively for the years to come.
Steven is the founder of ProjectileX, Managing Editor of Youth Business Collective, Fellow at Stanford’s Designership Institute, and Member of the Youth Skills Initiative at Global Business Coalition for Education.