Ali Salman is an online marketing strategist who works with professional firms, practices and INC 5000 companies. He now heads Rapid Boost Marketing, where in last year they went from $0 to over 2 million in revenue.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:01] – Ali is the co-founder of Rapid Boost Marketing
- [01:04] – He’s 31 years old and recently got married
- [01:50] – Ali’s area of expertise is in trusting sales skills in other entrepreneurial ventures
- [03:18] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: Click Funnels was a big help to Ali, and niching down helped them reach $2M in revenue
- [05:44] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: Ali opened up a health food store, Healthy Bites, in West Edmonton Mall. In 6 months, they failed and lost their investment
- [07:18] – When you’re having fun in your business, that’s the time you set a goal
- [07:46] – “If you have fun at something, the money will follow”
- [08:19] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: Closing deals means nailing the presentations. Ali nailed dentists down by creating a process that will help them gain new patients. Their presentation showcased how they can help these practices.
- [10:04] – Closing ratio of Rapid Boost Marketing is now at 80%
- [12:27] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? “I recently started doing a podcast called Escape The 9 to 5 Grind”
- [13:33] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “It was the mindset”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Stop freaking wasting your time”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “I wake up everyday at 5:00 am”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Lastpass
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – The Millionaire Fastlane
- [16:35] – Take some action and read the book The Power of Now
- [16:49] – Connect with Ali on Twitter, LinkedIn or on his website
Ali: I am. I’m ready to rock, John.
John: Yes. Ali is an online marketing strategist who works with professional firms, practices in “Inc. 5,000 Companies.” He now heads Rapid Boost Marketing where, in the last year, they went from zero dollars to $2 million in revenue. Ali, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Ali: Hey, there, guys. Thank you for having me today. I’m a cofounder of Rapid Boost Marketing. Personally, I’m 31 years old, recently got married, looking for actually a new dog so any recommendations will be welcome.
John: I thought you said a new job. I’m like, “You’re on the wrong show.” Then you said dog and I’m like, “Okay, that makes sense.”
Ali: And I love to play squash, I hate to watch TV, I almost listen to two hours of audiobooks or podcasts everyday so that’s just about me a little bit. People call me boring but you’ll find me on my laptop 24/7 when I’m not sleeping so that’s me.
John: Oh, well, that doesn’t sound boring to me at all. And what I would like to know, Ali, is your area of expertise? You were able to grow Rapid Boost Marketing from zero dollars to over $2 million in revenue. What’s your area of expertise? What do you specialize in?
Ali: So, John, I come from a sales background. I used to sell furniture at The Brick – it’s Canada’s biggest retailer into furniture and appliances – and I cross that experience into my other entrepreneurial adventures. So, expanding on that, one of the biggest things that was that I said, “Okay, I have this skill, I have this expertise, how can I start a business?” Right? And the biggest mind barrier for me was, “Okay, but where will I get the money from?” Right? And that was the biggest challenge. Right? So, very basically, my sales skills actually helped me overcome that barrier to, “Hey, you know what? I don’t need a lot of money to basically start a business or become an entrepreneur,” and that’s what we did at Rapid Boost. Right?
We overcame that barrier that, “Hey, you know what? We need a fancy office. We need advertising agencies. We need this fancy desk.” Right? We said, “Screw that. We’ll work wherever,” and, here, I’d recommend that book Rework, right, and we went 100 percent in the mode model, right, but we were still working with big companies. So that sales experience really got me into this entrepreneurship but that helped me be successful at it, too.
John: Now what do you think that our listeners, Fire Nation, need to know about your area of expertise that we probably don’t know? One tip, one tool, one tactic, Ali – name us something.
Ali: Basically, a lot of Fire Nation would be saying, “Hey, you know what? I’m struggling with the topline revenue because if you don’t have a revenue, you don’t have a viable business. Right? So, personally, I love this tool called “Click Funnels” – John probably knows Russell, too – I use this tool myself day-in, day-out to basically build my landing pages. So, if you’re an entrepreneur or wantrepreneur wanting to basically get some deeds and sales – immediate wins – in your business, that’s a really good tool for startup guys. Or, for the guys who don’t need a lot of technical knowledge, right, it works amazingly for them.
John: What was the one thing you did that you think turned your zero dollars in revenue to $2 million? Of course, you did a lot of things, Ali, but what’s one thing you did that made that happen?
Ali: John, what we did was we were a regular agency doing social media, doing SCO work here and there, right? Then what we figured, “Hey, you know what? We need to niche down.” And what we started to doing was we looked at our customers and were like, “Hey, 80 percent of our revenue is basically coming from these dentists and these lawyers, right, which we have on our portfolio.” So, we started just focusing on professional service providers and, once we did that, John, just in one city, we picked up 22 dentists at $2,000.00 a pop. So that was $25,000, $30,000 of recurring revenue just came in for us by fricking focusing on that. And that was – before, no one told us, right, but it was a hard lesson that, “You know what? Let’s focus on a niche or an industry and literally explore the crap out of that.” Right?
John: Fire Nation, niche down, then niche down again, and then niche until it hurts because, guess what? You can get some initial momentum there and you’re not stuck down there. If Ali wants to expand, and to broaden, to grow, guess what? Now he has over $30,000.00 from monthly revenue just from those 22 dentists that he can expand that revenue into bringing his business into the next level. So, niche down, get there, and then drive forward in the direction that you learn from – that you want to move in. So, let’s talk now, Ali, about your worst entrepreneurial moments to date. I know it’s probably hard to believe that somebody who went from zero to $2 million almost overnight had any tough times but take us to your worst moment. What is that story?
Ali: My worst moment, I almost gave up entrepreneurship, John. I was like, “Screw it, that’s tough. That’s not for me.” So, I don’t know if a lot of your listeners probably heard about West Edmonton Mall – it’s probably the biggest mall in North America, it used to be the biggest mall in North America – and we opened up a healthy food store by the name “Healthy Bites,” and it was next to Gold’s Gym. And I saved around $45,000, $50,000 to open up the store with my brother, right, and in six months, that basically failed, right, so we didn’t have any sales. Basically, what we did, John, we looked at all those pretty pictures on Instagram, we said, “Food is so awesome. It’s so much fun. Let’s jump into it.”
And, guess what? We hated the kitchen and that wasn’t for me. We were computer guys – we love the social side, we love online stuff – and I’m looking at making pitas for people – I’m hating it, right. and that was a learning experience of, “Hey, you know what? Don’t just look at the shiny side of the business. The grind which goes behind the business – that’s what you need to know, hey, can you do that day-in and day-out. And, if you can do that day-in and day-out, that’s the business for you and you’re still having fun doing that. Right? So that was my worst entrepreneurial moment – $50,000.00 we lost. We gave the store back to West Edmonton Mall – I think I was paying rent for a few months. So, it was a nasty loss, right, from the monetary side.
John: So, with that you learned a lot of lessons which you just shared one with us – make sure you’re having fun, you enjoy what you’re doing – what’s the biggest takeaway that you want Fire Nation to walk away with?
Ali: As long as you stop at having fun at what you’re doing in your business, that’s the time to make that call. If you’re not having fun, right, maybe you’re not making actually money from it and that’s the indicator that you’re not made for that. Right? A lot of times – let’s say you’re blogging, right – you don’t get traction, right, so it’s a hard question to ask yourself. Okay, if you’re having fun, that’s good. But, if you’re not having fun, maybe that medium is not for you – you should try podcasting, maybe you should try video. Right? So, if you’re having fun with something, money will follow. Right? So that’s what I would say. Right? Yeah.
John: Let’s move into another story, Ali. This one’s going to be one of your greatest ideas to date and, now, I’m going to be honest – that a-ha moment of niching down into finding dentists and then getting 22 dentists in one city –
John: – for $30,000 revenue. Fire Nation, think about that – that’s what happens when you niche and you dominate a niche. What would you say is another idea that you had that you were able to turn into success? Walk us through that story.
Ali: So, John, then we looked at – So, we niched down. Right? So then we said, “Okay, you know what? Now we need to nail down a process. So, if I sit in front of 10 dentists, I need to close 7 to 8 of them.” But you aren’t going to close them like that if you don’t have a nailed-down presentation process and everything. And I needed to replicate that for myself and my sales’ guys so that, what I’m doing, they can also be doing the exact same, 1-2-3-4 and, if they follow that process, you’re going to boom, 80 percent closing. Right? So being nailed down in that process and what you’re focused on – let’s say dentists, right – they didn’t care about social, they didn’t care about SCO.
They said, “Guys, the bottom line is that I want new patients. That’s it.” Okay? And, our whole presentation, we nailed down around that, “Okay, we will help you grow your practice and get you knew patients.” And we moved away – like other firms started talking about, “We’ll do this graphic for you. We’ll do this update for you. We’ll do this Instagram.” We said, “You’re a doctor. You’re good behind a chair. We are marketers – we are good at the computers. Let us do this for you and what you judge us on is, basically, how often your phone is ringing and email is ringing. Right?”
So, we got their trust, we got two to six months from them, and they gave us enough money that we were already sure that we’re going to get them results. Within 30 to 40 days, they can clearly see, “Okay, you know what? Every week now, there is two to three new patients,” and $700.00 to $1,000.00 per patient they make, right, as a new patient. So, they can clearly see, okay, they are paying us $3,000.00, $2,000.00, and, in the return, they are making $15,000.00 to $30,000.00. Right? That’s awesome. So, we nailed down the closing process and, now, our closing ratio from a cold lead and if we get a meeting, is 80 percent.
John: Wow. Fire Nation, there’s a reason the phrase, “Proof is in the pudding,” has stood the test of time. You, as an entrepreneur, as a small business owner, you need to bring tangible, trackable results to your clients and, if you can prove to them that every $1.00 they give you turns into $4.00, or $5.00, $6.00 coming back their way, the amount of money they’ll pay you will just continue to go up, and up, and up as long as you can give them that kind of return. Even $2.00 to $1.00 – I would love to give $1.00 to Ali if I knew he was going to be giving me $2.00 back.
I would do that all day long – that’s called winning arbitrar. So, you can make that happen, Fire Nation, but you have to have the systems, you have to have the trust, and you have to look at your clients and say, “Listen, you are good at X. Do X. I am good at Y. I’m going to do Y. And we will prove our systems to you.” So, I love that, Ali, and, just like you gave us that one takeaway that you did for your worst moment, what’s the one thing you want to make sure that we get as listeners today from that a-ha moment?
Ali: I learned this idea from real estate that you can basically pre-sell something, right, by interviewing your customers. So, let’s say, if I’m trying to sell to law firms, right, I can call three managing partners and say, “Hey, you know what? This is Ali. I have this idea. We are selling this service.” So, you can basically pre-validify, pre-sell that idea before you implement any system, or a process, or anything in your company, right, because your customers will actually tell you what you should be doing. And that’s the approach like The Lean Start-up talks about: talk to your customers, just don’t assume it. And, in this case, when we listened to the dentists – what they were saying again and again in the meetings – we just tweaked our presentations to them and, when we did it, we actually have a record that we closed a dentist in 30 minutes on a $3,000 package.
Ali: And that was why? Because we knew so well what this guy wants. Right? So that was, I think, the biggest takeaway would be.
John: Ali, what is the one thing today – here in 2017 – that you are most fired up about?
Ali: Recently, I got some time off from Rapid Boost. Right? I wanted to basically give back and I wanted to bust this myth that, “You know what, you can leave your 9:00 to 5:00 grind.” So, I’ve recently started doing a podcast called “Escape the 9:00 to 5:00 Grind” and I just talk about how I established a successful business, I became an entrepreneur, I left my grind, and I want to inspire some other people, right, who want to, basically, leave their grind and do what, basically, they are passionate about because the most heart attacks happen on a Monday morning because people just fricking drag themselves to work. Right? So, my idea is I’ve been successful at what I’m doing – to take the framework and learn from it or get inspired by me, right, and just take some action. That’s it.
John: Fire Nation, if your heart gives up on Monday and says, “I quit. No more,” you know you’re doing the wrong thing. Escape the 9:00 to 5:00 grind. And don’t you go anywhere, Fire Nation, because Ali is going to be dropping value bombs after we thank our sponsors.
Ali: Ali, are you prepared for the lightning round?
John: I am, John. Let’s get it going.
Ali: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
John: I think it was a mindset, John. Well, when you are making $60,000.00, $70,000.00 in a comfortable job and you know that you’re not doing much work at your job, right, it’s like that lazy back of your mind – You’re like, “You know what, Ali? Just getting paid $5G or $6G a month, you’re not doing much. Right? Why do you want to become an entrepreneur?” Right? So that was a mindset shift, right, and I said, “You know what? I don’t want to work for my boss because I want to serve a lot of people,” and that’s when I overcame that mindset shift. Right? Then I said, “I’m ready to become and entrepreneur.
John: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Ali: The best advice I’ve ever received is stop freaking wasting your time. Right? And there was a New York Times article, a Forbes article, right, I read it and I talked to a few people, too, and they gave you a perspective – your life in dots – right, and they’ll show it to you in a canvas that they can – You burn one hour, you burn watching two-hour movie or one Netflix series – how much time are you burning? Right? And that was one of the biggest advice that I got that stop wasting your time, right, because that’s one thing you’re never ever going to get back.
John: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Ali: I wake up every day at 5:00 a.m. I go to bed early and I think waking up – I was not an early riser but, since I have been an early riser, I can clearly see where my productivity has increased so I will highly recommend that – try waking up early. And I’m actually, from instead of 5:00 a.m., I’m actually going to 4:00 a.m. now.
John: Yes. I love that. And my phrase for people that say, “John, I can’t be an early riser. I just can’t fall asleep early. I fall asleep so late,” I say, “Well, listen. Wake up at 5:00 a.m. for 60 straight days and then you tell me when you’re falling asleep at night because I guarantee it’s not going to be midnight anymore because your body will adjust.” So, stop whining, stop complaining, and just do it if you want to be a morning person. Share an internet resource like Evernote with Fire Nation.
Ali: LastBus. I use it every day – it has saved me so much time.
John: If you could recommend one book, what would it be and why?
Ali: I think I’ve recommended three throughout this interview, but The Millionaire Fast Lane is No. 1 recommendation and then the Rework, and then The Lean Start-up my second and third.
John: And M.J. Demarco with The Millionaire Fast Lane, he was literally one of those first entrepreneurs I was like, “Dude, if that guy can do it, I can, too.”
John: Not because he’s not a great guy – because he is – because he was just driving limos around as a driver in Chicago in the winter. I’m like, “If that guy can do it, I can do it.” And I’ve since then had him on the show a couple times and I love him – great book.
Ali: Oh, awesome.
John: Let’s end today on fire, Ali, with a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Ali: So a parting piece of guidance is basically take some action. I read the book that it’s called The Power of Now – it’s by Eckhart Hart, I guess, right –
John: Yeah, Tolle.
Ali: It’s amazing, right, so that would my parting piece of guidance. How you can get in touch with me, just by going Twitter @canadianlmpro – it’s a weird handle – or just find me on LinkedIn, Ali Salman, or at rapidboostmarketing.com.
John: Rapidboostmarketing.com is probably your best bet, Fire Nation. And you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with Ali and JLD today so keep up the heat. And head over to eofire.com, just type “ALI,” Ali, “ALI,” in the search bar. His show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz, Fire Nation – timestamps, links galore, check them out. And, of course, rapidboostmarketing.com for Ali. Thank you, Ali, for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Ali: Thank you, John. I really, really enjoyed today’s podcast. Thank you for having me.
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