Sam Carlson has operated a SMMA offering Facebook Ads as a service since 2015. Today he’s transformed his service based business into a SaaS model and entirely change how agencies can make money now.
Uphex Free Course – Visit and access the course that shows you how to transition your SMMA into a SaaS for FREE!
3 Value Bombs
1) The most important thing is, “Who are we serving?”
2) Local businesses are great at potentially running their business. The one thing that they’re not great at, and it’s ironic, is getting business or acquiring new customers.
3) SAAS: If it can accomplish the same thing as the SMMA but at a lower price – and put the control of marketing in the hands of the business owner – then that’s winning.
**Click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.
Today’s Audio MASTERCLASS: Transform Your SMMA into a SaaS Agency
[1:28] – Sam shares something that he believes about becoming successful that most people disagree with.
- Every person can actually become an expert in and of themselves – meaning, you are an expert of you.
- You need to be a Jack of all Trades, have a lot of knowledge, experience a lot of things… But go deep in that thing that you are gifted and born to do.
[2:53] – Social media marketing agencies – are they losing clients to new SaaS models?
- The inherent problem is the amount of money that these businesses have to pay for the service.
- SMMA businesses are very vulnerable to getting clients – and keeping them.
- SAAS: If it can accomplish the same thing as the SMMA but at a lower price – and put the control of marketing in the hands of the business owner – then that’s winning.
[4:31] – Using SaaS for running Facebook Ads.
- The media buyer has always been a pinch point because the media buyer needs experience, plus needs the ability and the education to adapt and move freely.
- Media buyers have a place, but in the local lead generation marketplace, it’s kind of game over.
[6:17] – Getting the attention of local businesses with a solution to their real problems.
- You need an irresistible offer.
- A tactic known is a tactic blown.
- If you want the attention, you’ve got to be unique.
[8:04] – A timeout to thank our sponsor!
- HubSpot: HubSpot CRM’s powerful tools will help marketers WOW prospects, sales teams lock in deals, and service teams improve response times and overall service. Get started for free at HubSpot.com!
[10:31] – Local businesses running their own ads.
- SaaS can upload all of your proven ads into its engine and then with a couple clicks of a button be executed.
[12:42] – Helping local businesses get more customers.
- Right where you live, there are businesses that need your help.
- Local businesses are great at potentially running their business. The one thing that they’re not great at, and it’s ironic, is getting business or acquiring new customers.
[14:37] – The churn will kill local businesses. How do we keep these clients for years, not just weeks?
- Churn is the enemy of every agency. Getting clients is a lot easier than keeping clients.
- It’s the law of exchange. People don’t necessarily value what you do the same way you value what you do.
[17:13] – Sam’s key takeaway and call to action.
- People in our community are shifting from SMMA to SaaS, and that’s great.
- The most important thing is, “Who are we serving?”
- Uphex Free Course – Visit and access the course that shows you how to transition your SMMA into a SaaS for FREE!
[18:58] – Thank you to our Sponsor!
- HubSpot: HubSpot CRM’s powerful tools will help marketers WOW prospects, sales teams lock in deals, and service teams improve response times and overall service. Get started for free at HubSpot.com!
Light that Spark Fire Nation, JLD here. And welcome to Entrepreneurs on Fire, brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network with great shows like Marketing Against the Grain. Today we'll be breaking down how to transform your SMMA into a SaaS agency to drive these value bombs. I have brought Sam Carlson into EOFire Studios. Sam has operated an SMMA offering Facebook ads as a service since 2015. Today he's transformed his service-based business into software as a service model, and entirely changing how agencies can make money. Now and today, if our nation will talk about how media buyers are pricey and how you can use software to run Facebook ads instead about how attention is key.
We'll talk about how there are over 10,000 local businesses running their own ads without previous experience. How is this possible? We'll talk about SMMA and so much more. And a big thank you for sponsoring today's episode goes to Sam and our sponsors, Business Made Simple hosted by Donald Miller is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network. The audio destination for business professionals, Business Made Simple takes the mystery out of growing your business with episodes like How to Get Out of the Day-to-Day Operations Without Crashing Your Business. Listen to Business Made Simple wherever you get your podcasts, Sam, say What's up to Fire Nation and share something that you believe about becoming successful that most people disagree with.
1 (1m 29s):
You know what? JLD Thanks for having me, buddy. I'm excited to be here and to think that I think there's a, there's a saying out there that a lot of people tout and parrot out, and that is Jack of all trades, master of None. You've heard that? Oh
0 (1m 41s):
1 (1m 42s):
The real quote there is actually Jack of all trades, master of None though, often better than master of one. That's the actual original quote. Hmm. And the reason I really liked that when I first heard that it rang true to me because what it says is every person can actually become an expert in and of themselves. Meaning you, unique person, you are an expert of you. Now, it does, in my opinion, mean that you need to be a jack of all trades, have a lot of knowledge, experience, and a lot of things. But go deep in that thing that you were gifted and born to do. So to me it's encouraging because, you know, some of us just feel like we can't compete, but the only person we're actually competing with is us.
1 (2m 29s):
If we put in the work and be a better us, we win.
0 (2m 32s):
I love that Fire Nation. It's a fantastic start to an episode where we're focusing on transforming your SMMA into a SaaS agency. Now, the acronym SMMA stands for Social Media Marketing Agency. Talk to us about why they are losing clients to new SaaS models.
1 (2m 57s):
A lot of things happening right now in the landscape. So the SMMA model, I mean, I started doing it in 2015 and it provides a lot of benefit to local businesses. But the inherent problem is the, the amount of money that these businesses have to pay for the service. Okay? And at this point, when you pay a lot of money as a retainer forest service, it's really, if you look at a little local business, that is the only time they pay those types of fees. Everything else are utilities, everything else are, you know, your website, your utility bill, whatever. Businesses are not paying these huge retainers for social media marketing. So it's usually the first thing on the chopping block, which makes a lot of these businesses, these SMMA businesses very vulnerable to, you know, first getting clients as time goes by.
1 (3m 45s):
And second, keeping them now SaaS or software as a service, if they can accomplish the same thing as an S M A, but do it for a lower price and put the ha put the control of the marketing in the business owner's hands, they win. I mean, hands down, it's not, it's not rocket science. If I can do the same thing better for cheaper, I win
0 (4m 8s):
Fire Nation. That is a truism that has always existed and that will always exist going forward. But one thing I wanna talk about, Sam, is most people use media buyers to run Facebook ads. And one thing that I've experienced personally, and it's just reality, they're pricey. So you actually believe that we should use software to run Facebook ads instead of these expensive media buyers. Tell us more.
1 (4m 33s):
There's always a place for people who are really good at things, okay? But when it comes to local media buying, if you're buying traffic, Facebook ads specifically for local businesses, software, namely Apex can actually do that thing, do it better, do it cheaper, and do it perfectly every single time. And, and you said it, John is SMMA agencies have for a very long time grown to a point where the hey, where they say, Hey, we need to hire more people, manage more people, increase our overhead. Well, the media buyer has always been a pinch point because the media buyer needs experience, needs the ability and the education to adapt and move freely and therefore they're higher paid position.
1 (5m 19s):
So media buyers in local businesses, they're just, you know, they're two, they're two cost-prohibitive. It's not like e-commerce where we're talking about budgets into the millions. You know, where they can, Hey, we can hire one media buyer, we can hire hundreds potentially of media buyers. Local businesses don't have that luxury. So, you know, media buyers, they have a place. But in the local lead generation marketplace, it's, it's kind of game over, in my opinion.
0 (5m 49s):
Game over says Sam. And I kind of wanna go down to the level of where we're talking about attention being key, because that is so critical in this world. I mean, we're always getting pulled in a million different directions, you know, whether it be social media, our phone, television, radio, podcast. I mean, we're just getting pulled all over the place. Let's talk about how we can get the attention of local businesses with a solution to their problems. Because a lot of my listeners and a lot of people within Fire Nation, that's what they're looking at. They're looking at how can I get the attention to these local businesses with a solution to their real problems.
0 (6m 30s):
What do you say, Sam?
1 (6m 31s):
Well, if, if you're an SMA and you're looking to get the attention of local businesses really comes down to marketing 1 0 1, you need an irresistible offer. In, in sales, we talk about, there's a phrase, a tactic known as a tactic loan. Okay? So there was a point in time where the SMMA SMMA a model was unique was, you know, pretty original. You go to businesses, say, Hey, we're gonna run ads on this platform. Facebook for example, we're gonna get you a bunch of leads. That's incredibly attractive. But the more people do it, again, a tactic known is a tactic blown. So you need to adapt with the times and having an irresistible offer, a big part of that is having a unique mechanism, a unique approach, a uni, a unique way to position what you do to where the audience is like, well I have never heard of Facebook ads being able to be run by a software.
1 (7m 24s):
I haven't heard of that. So if you want the attention, you gotta be unique. You have approach your audience in a way where they haven't heard that before. That's really the big thing, is positioning yourself as unique with an irresistible offer. In my opinion,
0 (7m 38s):
Fire Nation people will beat a path to the doorstep of the number one solution to their problems. How can you identify a unique, real problem in this world and offer the best, unique, specialized solution to that problem? Then people will find you, then you will win. But guess what? There's ways that we can even ramp that up on top of that, once you've identified that first thing, and we'll talk about that when we get back from thanking our sponsors, we all want the same things for our business. More leads, faster sales and better insights so we can serve our customers at the highest level. One thing, we all don't want to waste time and money trying to figure these things out. So what's the solution? A CRM that's easy to set up and customize sounds too good to be true, right?
0 (8m 22s):
But this CRM exists, and it's called HubSpot. What sets HubSpot apart is it's easy to use and integrates instead of wasting days or even months trying to figure everything out. HubSpot gives you tools like their AI content assistant, which helps you save time on tedious manual tasks right away, looking to step up your game with email broadcast and landing pages. HubSpot’s drag and drop builder makes it easy to create attention grabbing emails and pages in minutes, and that's only the beginning. HubSpot has 1300 plus integrations that you can add for customization like you've never seen before. HubSpot CRMs powerful tools will help marketers wow prospects, sales teams lock in deals and service teams improve response times and overall service.
0 (9m 2s):
Get started for free at hubspot.com. That's hubspot.com. Sam, I wanna dive right in cause we get a lot of talk about my friend. There are now over 10,000 local businesses running their own ads without any previous experience. How the heck is this even possible?
1 (9m 21s):
It's a very long story, but we'll just con, we'll just make this as concise as possible. In 2018, my SMMA agency had a published case data by Facebook and we had a lot of interest. We didn't get the interest from our customers. We thought our customers would be like, oh my gosh, these guys have all this, you know, a published case study by Facebook. That should be amazing. We should get a bunch of CU customers. We did not, but we got a lot of interest from other agencies, from other companies and there was a software development company that said, Hey, we're working on a project and we want to do, you know, this particular thing. Long story short, we worked in development with them for about a year and the, the whole idea was media buyers, what they're doing when they're actually buying media, look for local, local businesses, the buttons they push are incredibly redundant, okay?
1 (10m 13s):
And as an SMMA guy, I knew that when I got a new client, I wasn't reinventing the wheel in terms of my ads. I wasn't going and creating brand new ads, you know, bringing around brand new offers. It was the same things. I knew they worked. So why reinvent the will? And so we got to this point where like we thought, hey, what if we could take it to where we could upload all of our proven ads into this engine and then with a couple clicks of a button, they would be executed, the orders would be executed, those ads would be pushed out on our clients ad accounts and boom, we would be, you know, getting leads for those businesses. And that was the, the, the idea. And that is the execution. That's what we do today to be able to generate leads.
1 (10m 56s):
Businesses go in, they don't have to be trained as a media buyer cuz all they're doing is they're saying, oh look at this library of proven ads. Click that one, I like that. Here's my daily budget launch campaign. And boom, the campaign goes,
0 (11m 11s):
Wow, I mean Fire Nation, these are the type of processes and strategies you need to be thinking about as you're going forward. And one thing, Sam, that I wanna dive into is that you think there's actually a great opportunity to help local businesses get more customers. Let's really dive into some deep specific examples of these opportunities. Tell us more.
1 (11m 32s):
Local businesses are, you know, they're a great, they're the lifeblood of our economy first of all. Okay? And I think a lot of agencies when they get in and, and the online space, they really want to go after the, you know, the big e-commerce budgets and things like that. But right where you live, there are businesses that need your help. Okay? There's plumbers, there's contractors, there's real estate people, there's, you know, just throw a dart down the main street in your town and there are local businesses that need help getting more business. And this is the, the core SMMA model right now, those businesses, they're great at potentially running their business, but I have found over eight years of doing this, the one thing that they're not great at, and it's ironic is actually getting business is acquiring new customers.
1 (12m 21s):
And so we make that our business when we walk in to their business and we say, Hey Mr. Orthodontist, okay, the lifeblood of your practice is a whole bunch of new braces, you know, new cases. What if I could get you 20 to 30 of those a month? Would you be interested? Boom, absolutely. There's a really good exchange there. Those are the opportunities that are there and that won't go away. Whether anything, you know, the economy can go up, can go down, and some businesses locally will close. But there are durable services in your local, in your local town and just in our country across the world that need that help, that need to be able to reach out and get the attention of their prospects.
1 (13m 3s):
And that's your job. That's what you do.
0 (13m 5s):
Fire Nation hope. You're realizing the opportunities that are literally laying out there at your figurative and literal doorstep. But one thing I do want to touch upon Sam, because this is something that I've seen for years, is that churn will absolutely kill businesses. So if we do all the right things and we work so hard and we find, and we get these clients and they're paying us money and we're providing them with great services, how do we keep these clients for years, not just weeks.
1 (13m 36s):
Churn is, is the enemy of every agency. If you've been in the agency business for a couple months, you know that getting clients is a lot easier than keeping clients. And there's, I think there's a lot of reasons for that. But for me, I really learned this just intuitively when we shifted our own agency from an SMMA to SaaS and in that time we had I think 25 SMMA clients and we had built the tool opex to do what's what it does today. And we were really nervous. We're like, man, we, we, we have customers right now, what if we lose these customers? What if this doesn't work? But we took the leap, we did it, we shifted from, Hey, we'll run your ass, say hey, you run your ads.
1 (14m 20s):
This is how easy it is. And I didn't plan on churn being I, I just thought hey, we'll get more customers. You know, my dad said when I was a kid, you sell to the masses, you live with the classes. I'm like, I'll get a bunch of more customers cuz the price point will be lower. The thing I didn't anticipate and I just learned through falling backwards into it, which is how I learned some of the most important things in my career, was as soon as we shifted from, hey, we're offering you a service at this high retainer fee to hey, we're selling you a SAS at a lower feet and you click the buttons and it goes, all of a sudden our churn just fix itself. It's the law of exchange. You know, people don't necessarily value what you do the same way you value what you do.
1 (15m 5s):
And they put into a box their own mental box, what it is that you do. They don't think as a SMMA person that you're doing anything right? And so they don't get how hard it is, but they understand the idea of software. And so when they pay for software and when it puts out the result that they've been paying an agency, oh man, they just stick around. They don't go, they don't churn. Churn becomes of no concern that rhymed just, just because, you know, in by virtue of what they're paying for. All of a sudden you didn't have to engineer it, it just happened because of a little mental switch
0 (15m 41s):
That mental switch Fire nation, it's right there in front of you. And Sam, you've dropped some value bombs today brother, and if you could just step back and say what is the one key thing that you really wanna make sure Fire Nation gets from our entire conversation today? What is that one thing?
1 (15m 56s):
People in our community are shifting from SMA to SaaS and that's great if you have an existing business, that's great, but we also have people who are getting started. We also have people who want to scale and there are always a scale and they're always asking me a lot of questions that quite frankly are symptomatic of not understanding. I think a couple of general things, the most important thing to me is who are we serving? Okay? Now a lot of people hear that and they'll think, oh, I've heard things like that. And, and you're right, it's, it's kind of become very cliche, who do you serve? And so for me it's all about not just having a niche but having a sub niche. Having a person that you serve. So granularly, in fact JLD I have used your avatar tool that I think you did probably seven, eight years ago, I dunno how long it's been now.
1 (16m 47s):
And I've used that to help people in my community identify not just a specific avatar, but a granular person that when they talk to the sales process, the growth process, the offer creation becomes intuitive because they're just helping a single person, right? So for me, nicheing down in whatever business you're in is the most critical, most important thing. It'll be the impetus that grows the rest of your business If you niche down to a very specific person,
0 (17m 17s):
Niche, your flipping face off Fire Nation. And Sam, I want you to give Fire Nation a call to action. I want you to tell us where we can connect with you, any call to action you have for Fire Nation and then we'll say goodbye.
1 (17m 32s):
I appreciate it. So, we have a really cool thing that we've been putting together specifically for this episode here. And so, if you go to our website, which is uphex.com/fire, that's uphex.com/fire. You'll find you'll learn more about OPEX there. But we also have a course that you can take that shows you how to transition your SMMA into a SaaS. It gives you all the steps, it gives you the tools, it gives you everything you need to do. So, in a short amount of time, you can look at the opportunity, evaluate whether or not it's right for you and take it on. It's completely free and I appreciate you having me on here buddy.
0 (18m 10s):
Listen, I'm fired up as well, brother, because Fire Nation knows they're the average of the five people they spend the most time within Fire Nation. You've been hanging out with SC and JLD today, so keep up that heat and links for everything we talked about today. Just head over to eofire.com type Sam in the search bar, the show’s page will pop right up. And Sam, thank you for sharing your truth, your knowledge, your value to Fire Nations today. For that we salute you and we'll catch you on the flip side. Thanks
1 (18m 38s):
0 (18m 39s):
Hey, fire Nation, a huge thank you to our sponsors and Sam for sponsoring today's episode and Fire Nation. Successful entrepreneurs are great at three things, productivity, discipline, and focus. That is why I created the Mastery Journal so that you can master productivity, discipline, and focus in a hundred days. And we're talking step by step. Visit themasteryjournal.com and I'll catch you there or on the flip side. Business Made Simple hosted by Donald Miller is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network. The audio destination for business professionals, Business Made Simple takes the mystery out of growing your business with episodes like How to Get Out of the Day-to-Day Operations Without Crashing Your Business. Listen to Business Made Simple wherever you get your podcasts.
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