Todd Swickard, the Co-Founder and CEO of Smart 1 Marketing, grew his company’s revenue from $1.7m in 2014 to $5.1m in 2017, a 208% increase and now they are on track to hit $6.9m this year.
Smart 1 Marketing is a provider of digital marketing services who partners with media companies around the globe.
In this interview with Eversprint‘s Malcolm Lui, Todd shares how he and his team accelerated their high value sales by:
- Providing monkey proof solutions that are simple and easy to use for clients and end-users alike.
- Focusing on core, time-proven marketing strategies, adapted for today’s digital world, instead of the latest and brightest shiny objects.
- Positioning for the growth of voice-based search (ie, Siri, Alexa, Google Home).
: Malcolm Lui here. Welcome to Eversprint.com. Today we're speaking with Todd Swickard, the Co-Founder and CEO of Smart 1 Marketing, a fast growing provider of digital marketing services who partners with media companies around the globe. Todd grew his company's revenues from $1.7 million in 2014 to $5.1 million in 2017. A 208% increase and now they're on track to hit $6.9 million dollars this year. Welcome to the call Todd.
: Todd. How did you do it? How did you grow your company sales so fast?
: Well we heard up a few unicorns and then started to feed them magical pixie dust. And after that that was they just started breeding themselves and things started to happen.
: No. Oh we do. We have a pretty firm philosophy and you know it's been in the industry for a long time. So our goal has been to make sure that we take care of our customers and provide them with an awesome experience and provide them with as much support as we can give them and we do that through a variety of different ways. When we make sure our folks are up to knowledge every day and constantly learning of all the new trends tricks and wonderful digital spaces that are out there that are constantly changing and create a roadblock for a lot of SMB and midsize. The other part of our businesses is we work with media companies across the country where we are actually their fulfillment center for their sales rep. So if you have a broadcaster or a radio station or a magazine and they're selling complement digital services we actually work with their sellers and their management team to increase revenues on the digital side in a lot of times you know they're losing money from traditional media like digital. This is a way for them to recapture some of those revenues that are that are slipping away. We created a system you know from listening to our customers from the sales side where we provide them an app to help sell from the fulfillment side where they have reporting dashboards that they can understand that the customer can understand and see the result.
: We take it very personally when we get a customer on it and we don't like to lose customers. We do you know our churn rate is extremely low when it comes to our industry. Our goal is not to have re-educate a customer or re-educate one of our clients. Our goal is to constantly make them fulfilled and satisfied with what they have out there and how they can put that together. So our system has been very successful in pushing that. So over time we will keep it so they can enhance their value proposition. We teach how to sell and up sell and start them slow with the basics of blocking and tackling what they need to do within their business or really try to understand their business and how they make money is if they're not successful they're not going to buy our product and if they're not going to buy more product with a way to increase our revenues. So that's that's really the approach of it.
: Hey you said at the very beginning that how you keep your clients aware of new trends that are occurring. Can you share some of those trends that you're seeing that are occurring.
: The trends that are out there. You know everybody likes the bright shiny object that is available to them. You know you hear snap chat here. You know it was Twitter and that was Facebook and then it was oh you have all these content Oh you can have all these blogs. Each business the trend changes depending on where they are you know their goals are if you're a roofer nobody really cares if you're tweeting right. Nobody cares about their singles when they don't need it. But everybody goes oh I got to be on Twitter. Well a lot of times we see businesses and companies that waste tons of money out there you know chasing kind of what they heard in the industry or what the latest trend is. You know it comes down to 90 percent of the businesses. It's still a go. It's still basic marketing when it comes to digital marketing. You know IP targeting is just a replacement for direct mail. You know Apple is in their locations are essentially that new Yellow Pages a website is nothing more than what a brochure or what people in the industry hate. When I simplify it like that but to get a customer to understand that you don't have to have you know all the bells and whistles and to follow every trend and 90 percent of the time you're not Toyota or you're not forward or you have these budgets and the resources that Kanie explore some of these.
: Crazy new things that are out there the trend the trends that we see you know start to search has always been there. You know and we always say hey you know let's look at ways that you can gauge the customer. And so we look at creating a new Web site platform that will be rolled out on site and that has become you know how do we make it easier for the customer. What we've seen now. I think one of the biggest trends and nobody talks about is very simply all the things that used to be hard three years ago have become very simple and very easy to create something that professional looking has the enhancements that five years ago would have cost you a fortune. Now now it's become available to that SMB to compete and sometimes on a level that you know is an enterprise system out there and we want to make sure that they can push that way.
: Right. Yeah it's amazing what technology has done in terms of bringing people literally closer together and getting work done today that just unimaginable five years and five from five years from five years ago.
: Right. And and just you know the trend is it's going to get easier for an SMB it's going to get you know we we have a saying around our office that has to be drunken monkey proof. And when we say it's drunken drunken monkey proof have you ever seen a monkey like appear to just pound on the computer brain that it changes screens. It does what he wanted to do. You know a lot of a lot of clients a lot of people out there you know that are our customers from the BDC side you know they want it easy they want it simple. You know if we as businesses sometimes are too close to the fire and over think it way too many times. Well I have this and it's got to have this. And you know they got to go through this process. And one of the things that we always suggest is you know hey can you have somebody that doesn't work in your business. Step back and look at this and ask them. I'm always a big fan of taking that to my mom because if there's something Broker there's something they're going to complain about. You know my mom was in her late 60s and she can look and go I don't understand it. I don't know how to get here. OK. Well you know if I can if I can get it passed my mom and a lot of times it's you know it's a challenge. But sometimes it's things we don't look at it especially for the folks that are you know in the business or in the technology side of oh this is great you know but regular people. Right. So we got to try to find a way around it.
: Yeah he can always tell products and systems and services that were designed by someone who doesn't use them. I mean they're a horrendous
: Yeah we classify a lot of folks out there and in different categories you know you have the designers and the dreamers that you know want to make a site is a work of art. You have the techie guy that no one at every bell and whistle to it and make sure all these functions and all these things are interlaced. We kind of present ourselves as kind of the block and tackle you know what we're going to make it functional. We're going to make it pretty. Right. Is going to be the prettiest. No probably not. Right. I'm sure there's somebody to make it prettier than us is going to be the most cool thing in the world. It's going to be close but it it's not. You know we're not going to spend millions of dollars trying to get somebody to understand that they don't have you know the latest greatest technology out there and they need to spend the dollars instead of five thousand dollars to get the same result.
: Right. Yeah I've been doing other interviews with other fast growing companies and part of my research is visiting their Web site and I have to say just like what you just mentioned these the websites they have are functional they're not the prettiest they don't have to every single fancy little tool but it's been good enough for their needs to you know grow their fast grow their business you know astronomically fastest like how you have with your business as well.
: Right. Right.
: And ironically you know there's still there's still a understanding with clients that you want them to you know you start to talk to a client. You still have to help them understand them and that's one of the things that you know we reinforced to our sellers and our resellers of talk to the client just listen to their problems and solve the problem for them. Right. And they're happy where if you try to overcomplicate it in fine magical ways to do it then it just you know nothing but frustrate the customer.
: Yeah definitely go back to your numbers where you went from one point seven million in 2014 to 5.1 million in 2017. Now looking to hit six point nine million in 2018. Where is that growth coming from is it coming from new clients more clients that you're working with. Is it coming from doing more business with your current clients.
: Yes yes and yes. We don't really. We're not a traditional business. Ironically as a marketing company we don't do much marketing and is crazy. But ours has come from referral. So when it comes to our side of it and am working with getting new clients a lot of folks will come from Columbus Ohio to a CBS station in Portland Oregon. And they they bring us all take us take us with them because we've proven that success in the different markets that they've had to deal with. And so when we grab clients a lot of them are referrals folks that have worked with partners of ours and know know of us pretty good at the crisis management and coming in and fixing something because we've seen it all over the last couple of years. We have a team that you know highly skilled and highly experienced you know we've done everything that we're asking them to do. So we want to make this possible. So with our with our existing client base we actually work with them. So when where when where is it. As a partner is a ball being within our ecosystem. We teach them how to not only upset their existing clients but also find ways to go out there and capture new industries capture new client. They may have never touched before. So every single year our our clients there are raising the bar and coming forward on that
: So as you as you help your comp as you help your clients grow and go into new verticals find new markets. Does your compensation does what they pay your firm also increase
: Yes. So we have been in our business a pretty unique way that we push things out there. All of our contracts are 30 days so every single month we're on the hook to make sure that customers is happy and as they continue buying products from us and increasing their brand base it actually benefit us on our side.
: Ok. Can you share perhaps how that works with one of your clients or maybe a hypothetical client so that I can understand better and also the people who are listening can understand better.
: Sure. So say if we have a newspaper and Bangor Maine they bring us in to help out and market their existing client base that they have out there. So they'll sell them a print product but they'll also go back and try to sell them a digital product that goes along with it. As time marches on you know we always say to friends and family that they kind of go after first after that. Time marches on. We get them to go after hey we we'll go after somebody that may have not been in their print publications before. And what that does is give them the ability to enhance their customer base. Right. So things that they may have never thought to sell as a newspaper as a digital agency that they may have formed. Now they have the ability to go out and touch those clients and they feel confident with it and they know what they're selling it and they become a strategic partner of them.
: Right. So your company is compensation based on your client's revenue. Is it like that simple or is a much
: More complex
: It's that simple. No it's that simple. So as they sell more of our products we are able to dive deeper into it push in and increase our revenues as they're buying more products and selling more products to their client.
: Can you share the kinds of products that your clients are selling the products that your clients are selling of yours.
: We put it together like on on smart suites them. So we kind of have a wide range of products and the products go from everything from a wordpress site to our one site which is on a platform that we built to a shopify site where Shopify partner. So on the e-commerce side we do search engine optimization for our clients. We do local listings. We do what we call adjustable targeting plans which as some people know it as the wonderful world of programmatic display. So we're out there finding audience and advertising to those audiences you know whatever site that they might be on. We do IP targeting we do direct mail campaign drip campaign for our clients. We give them a social media strategy. So here's what you need to do. Here's how we can help you and put together those programs. We buy video and over the top the over the top. So the cord cutters were able to touch them. We sell everything when it comes to digital radio. So whether it's Pandora or Spotify I Heart Emmis ESPN radio we can push that out there.
: So the premise you almost everything under the sun when it comes to digital marketing in an e-commerce or large degree for example gave before the Bangor Maine newspaper. Right. How are they reselling your services into the new and different verticals markets.
: So they have. Why are we partner with. You know why. Why we've partnered over the years with media companies. They've had a huge relationship with clients. They've been able to weather it the newspaper you know they they've sold things they have a trusted relationship. So we partner with them to go out and touch those. I mean they have all because they have all the understanding of what's out there. So we can go back and help them approach their clients with things that they may have not. At
: Okay. Can you give example of how this newspaper in Maine might approach one of their clients and then they would be reselling one of your products or services to that client.
: Sure. So say it. Let's just go with a simple insurance agent. All right. So bad times the insurance agent has sold you know they've they've advertised in the paper. Now they want to find a way to reach folks online. So we'll work with them them and analyze their site. You know do they need a new site and we can quote them right. If they're not showing up local listing we can we can expedite that side of it if they're trying to sell life insurance to females that are married with school age children and we can find that audience in market out there we can give them an ability to touch the 18 to 35 year old streaming streaming radio and push that out there instead of the traditional frustrated radio that's out there. So we find a solution that that works with it for them.
: So is your media partner the the main newspaper or are they just making an introduction to you or are they reselling your services on a white label basis to their clients
: A lot of our clients will actually go through and depend on the media and on the agency it depends on the partner that we have out there. Some of them will just bring us in as a strategic partner that works with them some of them completely white or service.
: Ok so which which do you prefer working as a white label provider or as a strategic partner.
: You know I had I don't know if I have a different situations it works well in both. You know we get a little schizo frantic around here when we're all white labeled because we have to be whoever we are that day. But you know most of the time it's completely simple. You know we all we're all used to it.
: Right. So how much of your business would you say came from referrals where people move jobs and they bring you on board as opposed to you successfully helping your existing clients grow their book A business further and then you in turn participate in their growth.
: And it's probably about a 60 40 split when it comes to our new business comes from a lot of referrals that are out there and that that 40 percent would be the folks that are you know growing their existing. So as we continue to take our market the media partners say they have a great way of you know we give them the tools and the ability to go out there and up and up sell their campaigns.
: Right. When do you think you're going to go beyond referral marketing. Growing your business from referrals and then and instead being more proactive in your marketing. When is that going to happen. And if and what is your plan. What marketing channels are you thinking about using to grow your business.
: You know the thing that we've we've carefully structured our business so we remain a debt free company that we grow at a pace that is reasonable within within our our resources that we have out there with a lot of companies out there you know we'll try to well try to go too fast and too strong by you know probably sometime in 2019 we'll get you know reaching out to some databases and reaching out to some of our listeners and work with some unique ways whether it's email some handwritten note some boxed some gimmick drops of getting people to understand who we are and what we do. And look at those specific targets
: Right now in terms of your growth plans beyond 2018 going forward what trends do you see that is impacting businesses that will help your business and at the same time. What trends do you see that can potentially hurt your business. You can avoid them. I know earlier we talked about how due to technological improvements more and more technology and services are becoming available to the SMB. So that's one trend I think that fits really nicely with what you're doing. Are there others that you see that can really help your business or hurt your business if you're on the wrong side of it.
: Right. Right. You know the things that can and probably you know we have to figure out from our side and things that we look at as potential pitfalls and our side is is probably one of the biggest one is that the new speech searches. So you know in past you know it was a very simple search. Now you know the home assistant Siri and Google you know how do we monetize those. And what was the strategy for those. And that's kind of a tough thing that everybody in the business is gone. OK how do we how do we figure out some way to work there.
: What are your preliminary thoughts about the speech searches and how you and your clients might be able to benefit from that.
: You know there's there's there's ways to integrate some of the businesses. And there's ways to make sure you know some of the biggest things that we're seeing with our clients and especially right now is making sure their hours and their address and their phone number and and all their information on their idols so to speak are published out there within the different directories whether it's Google Yahoo. Or you know 65 other directories that we've identified that apps use make sure that that's all correct. Because if those aren't there it's going to be a problem. You know if you don't have the right information or you are not finding that near me scenario we want to make sure that all that is is wrapped up in that side of it.
: Right. Yeah it's amazing. It never cease to amaze me when I check out a restaurant site or auto shop and they make it so hard for me to find their address right. It's like you know make it easy going back to what we talked about before right. And you want to make things you want your mother to be able to figure these things out.
: You have to make that you know again we talked about making it easy for a client. But we also want to make it easy for that end user that end user does not have that ability to simply go out find where they need to go quickly. And it's going to be it is going to be a problem as they go forward.
: Yeah yeah. I mean I'm just not. Not just in the BDC space but even B2B right. So you know if I have a problem that business problem I'm trying to solve and if it takes me more than 20 seconds to figure out what's going on I'm going to go somewhere else.
: Exactly. So. So you got to make sure that that is simple and easy for that client and they have no trips on that
: Right to ask questions for you Todd. Who is your ideal client and what's the best way for them to get in touch with you to work with you and your team.
: Sir. Know your client is one that pays their bills.
: Yeah those
: Are the best
: Yeah that one's ideal client is you know somebody that has the passion of a we understand that digital is critical. We understand that there is always that I want to grow my business. I want to go outside of our existing box that we've kind of pigeonholed ourselves in and find ways to understand and and use that technology to benefit themselves or the customer or their you know customer base that they have. So how can they be successful. And our goal is to try to help them. It's possible that
: What's the best way for them to get in touch with you.
: Best way to get in touch. You can email Todd Swicord at Sparre one marketing account and that's to be the easiest way to reach out to me.
: Would you mind sharing how to spell the e-mail address.
: Sure Todd T.O Didi Swicord S.W. I see Kay A.R.T. and there's no dot or anything in there at smart. The number one marketing smart one marketing dotcom
: All right fantastic.
: Reach up
: Thanks for joining us today Todd and sharing how you grew your company so fast.
: We've been speaking with Todd Swickard, the Co-Founder and CEO of Smart 1 Marketing about his company's rapid growth. For interviews with other fast growing companies or to learn how we can increase your firm's high ticket sales through automation, visit Eversprint.com.