Hi everybody. This is AJ Vaden here. I’m the CEO, co-founders at brand builders group, but also one of the awesome hosts of the influential personal brand podcast. Of course that slightly by as I talk about myself, but I’m really so excited for you guys to meet my friend Casey Clark today. He is so awesome that he and I are newer friends, but we’re in a, a little two person mastermind. We’re gonna be meeting every month together. And I I’m so, so grateful that he was kind have to entertain being on the show today, but just a little bit of background. So you know who he is, cuz you’re gonna get to know him and his business really well over the next 30 to 45 minutes. But I even learned some really cool stuff. I did not know. But Casey came from a franchise background and when you left the franchise visit, I didn’t even know this, but you had 90, more than different franchise owners.
And I had no idea that’s like a really massive accomplishment, but what I mostly know about is what Casey is doing now. And he owns a company called cultivate advisors and it’s one of the largest small business coaching firms in north America. And so that’s a huge part of what we’re gonna be talking about. And then just in 2020, he was ranked within the top 800 fastest growing companies on the Inc 5,000 list. And that is no easy feat. And so we’re gonna talk a lot about how you did that. And a huge part of our audience are people who identify as coaches or trainers or consultants or speakers which is why I wanted to have you on the show. So welcome
AJ. Thanks for having me excited to be here.
Yes, it’s gonna be so fun. Okay. So to give everyone just a little bit of background, tell them, how did you get started in the world of small business coaching?
Well, it goes back to, you know, those franchising days, we were training first time business owners, how to scale a business and it was in the home service space. So it wasn’t as exciting of a space. Right. But it was, it was one of those businesses that allowed you to spend more time learning how to run and grow a business versus necessarily how to be amazing at the industry. Right. Hmm. And so through that period, we just, I kept starting up more franchisees. I, I kept going through that cycle. When I started seeing these patterns, I started seeing how people got stuck and where people would find these gaps. And I went, I wonder if this is the same in the outside market, if I were to go across, you know, hundreds of industries. And so, you know, started doing some research, started to kind of get into the coaching advising space. And within a few years it was very clear that what I had experienced was very similar to where most entrepreneurs were, you know, that stop gap where they get on that treadmill or they, they, they lose control if it’s growing too fast, you know, et cetera. So that’s kind of what got us into it. I got addicted to this idea of being able to help small business owners kind of take back their life per se and start to control growth. And that’s, that’s kind of what cultivate was built on.
Oh, that’s so good. So I’m so curious. What was the industry for the home services, business
Painting, painting industry.
So I have a huge past life as a consultant and I did tons of work with Iffa. So I’ve got oh yeah. Clients. but
I know Iffa I was certified with Iffa. Oh yeah. I’ve been panelists at their conferences in the past, you know, all that stuff, so.
Awesome. Okay. So you get started in this now. How long, how long ago was it that you started cultivate?
We founded at the end of 2013, we didn’t do any revenue till 2014. My co-founder was one, one that kind of went full time. We have a fun story where he just called me one day and said, you know, that idea we talked about, we set up a, you know, an LLC for, I, I quit my job today. I’m gonna start doing this full time. I’m like, all right, I guess we’re doing this. And so I, I still had my other business. I was still working on that exit and, you know, working on that. So it took me about two years. So I was part time. He was full-time for the first two years I joined full-time really at the start of 2016, so, okay.
Like I think that, what does that, what does that make that now? Five, six years maybe. I
Mean that, but that’s pretty significant to, and I we’re gonna get to this, but to go from 2016 to what, what we call it first quarter of twenty, twenty two, like that’s pretty phenomenal growth and a short amount of time. So do you mind telling the audience, like how much are you guys doing in revenue? You don’t have to give us like to the, to the stint, but
No, you’re you’re all right. Yeah, yeah, no, you’re all right. We’ll, we’ll probably do you know, just shy about 16 million or just over this year. And we’ve got about 126 employees, so yeah. So it’s, it’s been a quick runway
Five years and I think that’s really important cuz I know so many of the people that we talk to and that we work with they have the dreams of building and scaling something that’s beyond them, delivering coaching services and you guys have done something extraordinary in a really short amount of time. So some of these questions that I have prepared every cause I wanna know
I wanna know, get some, gotta get some dirt, get some ways to, to copy. I love it. R D Rob duplicate, wanna know
Too. So that’s pretty phenomenal growth in five years. Right. And from somebody who also has been a part of building and growing an eight figure coaching business, like that’s not easy. So I wanna know it’s like, how did you guys do it? Like how has it
Grown? How long do we have AJ? How long do we have? Well back to the beginning. No I, I think I can distill it down to a few things. I, I think one is the, the quality of the output, right? What goes into that? It’s, we’re really specific who our advisors are. They’re only past business owners that have seen success. We’re very, very strict on that. We’re not the license or the franchise. I would, I don’t think you should franchise this, this industry licensing you can get, you can get away with. And if you set up the right structures, but you know, I think for us, we really saw this vision to say, we’re gonna create an employee model for advisors. Let them feel like internal entrepreneurs within our brand. And how we’re gonna approach is we’re only gonna bring in folks that have walked the walk before, you know, out of a, I, I, I, I read a stat the other day that, you know, it’s $11 billion industry.
This coaching industry is the average business is like 156,000 in revenue. That’s, that’s almost half what my average advisor does a year in revenue. Right? So it was just a quality play that we took out, say, we’re only gonna bring these folks. And I think that was step one. And just this relentlessness to measure the customer’s experience and not just measure, are they happy? You know, they give us a good net promoter score, good, you know, status action score. But more importantly, we started tracking really early on how many businesses are growing double digit revenue and growing double digit profit that we’re working with. And because we were niche in and we had that focus, it allowed us to prioritize. I think the third thing that really stood out and, and I, I don’t always agree with this, but it’s just what worked for us.
We kind of hit the marketplace at the right time. What we saw was that we did not need to be industry experts. We could be industry agnostic. And what we needed to do was fuel growth. And what we found is that a lot of business coaches had niched into I’m gonna help you with your sales or I’m gonna help you with this or this part of it. And that’s great. I mean, I, there’s no discredit to that. We just really saw the models that there’s nobody out there as a generalist that even go bring those people in on their behalf and truly meet them as a business partner. So I think a lot about how our model got created is that’s also why we’ve scaled so quick. When you bring on talents and entrepreneurs already that have ran a business, you go, you need to go find 10 or 15 businesses to work with. It’s not that hard for them to do that. And we can start to scale very quickly as we built the model. So those are some of the nuances that I think helped kind of scale at the end of the day, just chalk it up to a lot of hard work and a lot of really good talents of people that are smarter than me. Yeah. That’s how we kinda got over the line. We should
Always be the dumbest person in the room that
Is try to be, try to be trying to be.
So I think there’s something that is really unique about what you, and it’s this concept of building it in an employee based model, because I think that’s pretty contradictory in most of the consultant coach worlds, for sure. And so why did you go that way?
Well, I don’t know if it’s the easy way. I think it’s the hard way. It’s harder to get off the ground, but if you get off the ground, I think it’s ways than the second tier scale, right? Like our, a lot of our growth has happened in the last three years. We’re exploding and we’re, we’re set up to continue this really, really fast scale, really because we’re able to control the levers of growth because we’re all employees, we’re all, you know, guided towards the same north star that we’re driving towards. And it just starts to get this, this engine that you can’t turn off what I find when you’re in the, the non-employee model, which again, there’s nothing wrong with that. Right? We’ve got tons of clients in our portfolio that have built license or contractor programs. You just lose this element of quality and you lose this element of control.
And I shouldn’t say you, you lose it. It’s just harder to hold. It is probably the better way for me to frame that. It’s harder to hold that element of control for the, for scale, because at the end of the day, you can’t tell somebody what they have to hit and what they have to go achieve. You’re you’re only gonna go as far as the, the tenacity or drive of the individual. Yeah. In the other side of that agreement. Right. And you won’t get their full I endeavor. And so what really I’ll talk about what I think holds people back from this it’s it’s money. Like really what I find people in this industry, why they stay away from this is the cash side of it. Yeah. And, and we were in the same boat. We, we just, we just said, you know what, we’ll go bring on three and we gotta make th sure.
They’re all successful. And then we took all the and earnings from that. Now we’re gonna go bring on six. You know, this year we just started 15 in one class, we’ll bring on 30, this year, 35 this year, next year we’ll probably bring on 40 to 50 advisors. Right. And we just keep, we just keep taking the earnings and then you can afford to bring on more people. Cause we really don’t break even on advisor for almost 11 months. Yeah. So it’s a long term strategy that we’re playing for a long term growth. It’s it’s, there’s no shortness about it.
Yeah. I love it though. I think one, one of the things that I love so much is it does give you that ability to create a more standard experience because yes they are employees. Right. I think that’s one of the hardest things is creating a, it’s not, you want it to be, you know, cookie cutter, but you wanna be able to set standard expectations so that every client has a somewhat similar experience, even if what they talk about is uniquely different.
Yeah. And I, and I’ll tell you, like, I don’t think a lot of our team members like really view, like I’m an employee of cultivate, you know, I hope they don’t. I think most, most, most people within our organiz are coming at it going, yeah. Yeah. I hang my shingle at cultivate, you know, but I have my own portfolio, my own book of business. We’ve created compensation incentives that create unlimited upside in every role in the organization. So they feel empowered. They feel that same sense ownership, but we’re able to maintain that standard. And again, our, our team members, you know, hit those standards easily and, and drive towards those standards without, you know, cause the talent we hire. But that’s the other thing too, right? Your talent pool totally changes. When, when you say I’ll pay you this salary, I’ll pay your benefits. I’ll give you a 401k match.
I’ll and I’ll give you unlimited upside for revenue share based on your output. It, you know, transparently after selling franchises for a long time. And then now offering money and really to write checks heck of a lot easier on the second part of that than it’s on the first. I mean, there’s a long line. You get to kind of sort through to pick the right person. Now we’re lucky in our industry, we haven’t been affected by the great, you know, resignation and we haven’t been, you know because we hire these past entrepreneurs. It’s, it’s just kind of a different niche we’re in. But so I don’t wanna be Des sensitive, you know, to what’s going on in the world right now. But it, it really is compared to my experience of franchising, I find so much easier to just go, I need to 10 people. It’s not gonna be that hard for me to go find 10 talents of people. I just have to do some, some hard work to, to pull ’em out.
So for somebody who is in this world and they’re building this coaching business or consulting or training, right. Didn’t use any of those and they’re going, I just don’t have the money to do that. Yeah. Right. That’s somewhat of a mindset.
Yeah. So what would you say to that person?
Three answers. One, get a partner who has money. Now you have money. You know, don’t hold the degree, don’t hold all the equity, you know, go after your, go after vision, see the reality, figure out how to buy out the partner later. Option two, start, start on the freelance. Start on the, the, you know, that’s what we did our, our first year and a half, the people we brought in, they were, they were all contractors set percentage, you know, and just, we were really lean. We didn’t over invest in anywhere except for talent. And we saved our pennies. We didn’t pay ourselves very well. Yeah. We, we intentionally held off to the best of our abilities while paying the bills. You know, we’ve got families and all that, but you know, we just really focused hard. So we were double dipping. We were advising full books of businesses in our, in our terminology, but we were also then leading a few advisors, each getting ’em off the ground.
So we had to play had kind of be that player coach there for a bit, but we had the site and we had the vision. We laid out the forecast. We knew exactly how much money we had to get to, to have the amount of money to invest. And we had ran the model to know what we had to invest to get. And then we flipped all the contractors to employee and then started to only bring employees. And we started growing at the speed. What was cash? Now our speed of growth is limited to the number of leaders we can promote. So how fast can we, people skilled up to where we feel comfortable putting in a leadership position. That’s now what holds me back in terms of the next chapter of growth of waiting for that element. So that’s how I personally, you know, look at the money side is get a partner, number two you know, set up as a contractor first, take those earnings and, and bootstrap this thing up. And the, the third, another option is just of the day, like create an equity program out of the gates. Like, you know, your first five or 10 folks like tie them in for being those early adopters. And you do something kinda a little different where they’re more of a partner and then the next batch, as, as you get 10 people up running full blast, putting, you know, deposits back into that bank, it’s gonna create the, the nucleus of money for you to then, you know, push out.
Yeah. Love. That’s so good. So, all right. Let’s say somebody buys into this, they’re listening to this interview and they’re like, yeah, I’m not gonna grow. I’m not gonna scale unless I have more people. Right. Yeah. Be a very finite amount of clients and time that we can all do this individually. So where would you say, like, where’s your go to place for finding great talent right now?
I mean, it’s a honestly poaching LinkedIn. It really, it really is. I just you know, why, why though, like a lot of people just talk about it, like, I’ll give you the new, the new, the nuances of why you know, I can search CEO co-founder owner. I have the ability to search that on LinkedIn. So for that reason, I have the ability to find their right talent by, by putting those filters. I don’t really know of any other place online that allows me to search that. Yeah. I think you can search resumes on indeed now. And there’s a little bit of searchability in that, but it’s a different,
It’s a different person.
It’s a different pool, you know, for us now, now I don’t think that I, my, my gut is not a lot of people necessarily for the niche or what you’re trying to get into always need past entrepreneurs. Right. So if I were to talk to, you know, we’ve got a, a very large client base and portfolio, I mean, indeed is really the number one job board still. I mean, nobody’s even touching it in terms of the amount of hires and, and what you get out of it. But I would really, if I worked with any, any company say, how do you get going on recruiting in a professional service environment, okay. In this type of environment, I would say three ways, LinkedIn poaching, you know, you’ve gotta have somebody, either a recruiting firm or somebody in house actively going out and trying to find the right people on getting them educated to where they wanna apply.
That’s the key don’t poach and say, would you like to have a conversation? Don’t do that. Like, I just wanted to introduce you to the role, go check it out, have some great videos on your website, let them apply. So they feel like they’re trying to earn the role. Yeah. Otherwise you just turn in just a negotiation of salary and that’s not, you’re probably not in that situation yet. Option two, make sure you have posts all over. Indeed. Especially if you can work remotely anywhere, open up your, open up your mind to talent across the country. That’s just the new way of life. Now, everybody we’re, we’re there. All right. The whole, I’m gonna hire people in my back door that in my backyard, that’s gone. So you’re missing out a massive talent if you’re gonna limit yourself. Yeah. The world’s changed. Right. And then option.
And especially in this industry, just don’t, you don’t need walls. You don’t, you know, you can work remote and then, you know, option three is, is, is really referrals. Like you think about your own network. You think about, get on the phone, do the hard work, get on conversations with people, you know, and go, I’m looking for somebody who is this background, who do you know, that has this background? And then as you start to get your first few employees, instead of a have conversations with them, like, how can I get three or four of your friends that are similar to you in this organization? What do we have to do to make that happen? And just, if you start with that intentionality, you’ll get outta the gates. And then once you get outta the gates, you have a following us, you know, we’ve got kind of an endless application pool that we get to work through now, but that’s because of our size and our, our success stories. Right. It doesn’t, it doesn’t start that way. It’s like, I remember being, you know, convincing people. I promise, like we really do know what we’re doing. It’s helping small businesses grow. I remember those conversations like yesterday, you know, oh, that’s now, they’re now the story speaks for itself. But,
But you know, it’s, it’s so true. It’s like, you know, we recently just brought on five new, full time employee strategy. One thing about me is I, I take, I take advice quickly. Once I agree with it, I’m like, I’m on it. It’s like, I think we had our conversation like first week in December and it’s like January, we had five full-time employees. Right. And so a lot of it is
Ask how you’re feeling a couple months, that risk tolerance
Been a little crazy, but you know, four out of those five, I got, I poached off a LinkedIn.
One was a personal referral. Yeah. And one and four out of five, straight up just poached off the LinkedIn. But it’s, it’s knowing how to navigate. Right. But it’s looking, it’s knowing what you’re looking for.
Somebody, somebody told me this a lot of years ago. I can’t remember who I wish I could give credit. Cuz I share this all the time. It’s one of those things where it’s like somebody once said, right. But you, you should always employ the employed, not the unemployed. Yeah. Right. And so it’s, you know, the reason why I like LinkedIn poaching is I like to take people who already have a gig. I already have something going and I’ve gotta convince them that my gig’s better. It’s usually when you get the talent, there’s a reason why the person’s unemployed and now that’s not fair. Cause some people might be here and go, whoa, wait, I kind of got unlucky. Like don’t mean any disrespect by that, but just a general rule of thumb at scale, as an owner, growing a business, how are they employed? Not the unemployed.
Yeah. It’s such wise advice.
Especially when you’re first getting started.
Yeah. I think that’s yeah. Okay. So I love this. Right. And so then, so my next question comes around around. All right. So in order to get to the place where it’s like, all right, I need to bring on more talent. I need to make this happen. You gotta like have sales. Right? You gotta have some growth.
You gotta need some revenue.
You gotta have some revenue. So I would say like, what do you think other than having great talent and doing all the things which I having great. Yes. That’s a given, right. That’s an expectation, right? Yeah.
If you don’t, if you’re not, if you’re not good at what you do, you’re not, you have no business scaling it anyway. You’re gonna lose yourself in it. Yeah.
But so what’s your sales strategy
That I have to be careful what I should. No, I’m just joking. I think, I think there’s a few, few ways we view it. We kind of break this out. I mean, I’ve always believed that the fastest way to grow a business is that your number one marketing task, I’m gonna go to marketing versus sales. Cause I think as long as you have the leads and you offer a good value and your right price, you’ll sell, I mean, we can get into sales, conversion ratios. And I know you and your husband have an amazing sales background. You could, you know, teach at the end of the day of how to close. Cause I’ve grabbed my own strategies from watches your, your videos of the past. And, and you know, I think that I look at the marketing source where most people struggle is actually how to get the leads in yeah.
To then be able to sell. I think that’s actually where people struggle on the route. I agree with that. I agree with that. People can learn sales. It’s kind of hard to learn marketing. You can learn how to sell stories. You can learn how to set up your Facebook or LinkedIn profile. You know, these are all things you can do, but like how do you actually build an engine of leads that’s sustainable. Right? So that was really what we focused on. And, and now what we did is we turned all of our advisors that came in, we have them also generate their own opportunities. Right. So a lot of our advisors are bringing their own personal network when they come in. They’re in to do so, but it’s real, we’re really focused on a referral business. If you think about coaches, we’re no different than financial advisors or insurance brokers or lawyers.
How many times have you ever gone on Google and said, I wanna meet a lawyer. Not very often. Most people are like, they’re gonna get referred. Right? You’re it’s just so I, I call this the referral industry. You, you got how to be referred in. You gotta set yourself up to get referred in. So however you can build that engine, that’s how we approach it. And so knowing that that’s the model knowing that’s how we approached it. We just skill our advisors up, unbelievably on how to build this referral model. And a lot of different ways from building, running, speaking events, to partnering with different programs, you know, et cetera, et cetera. But I do have a full partnership team. That’s out, you know, working, setting up partners with people to where we come in and provide content and, and value to their organizations and all their, their you know, business owners within their network, depending on what the, the partnership is.
We focus on, you know, we we’ve for a little while we land, we ran a LinkedIn program, but that’s really become saturated. You’re not really gonna get a lot of sales outta LinkedIn with these days. You know, really it’s always come back to the root, can we get 40 to 50% of our clients every year from more client referrals? That means you’re doing an amazing job. Yeah. Right. If you can grow 50% year over year, just because of the num you know, one in every two clients give you a referral client, go figure that out, ask the clients for referrals, be active, then figure out how to get the connector. What we call kind of the connector referrals, the outside influencers, people, you know, connecting your, referring you and then use your own personal network from all the business owners where you’re essentially going, Hey, I wanna work with you in your business or whatever, you know that your niche might be. We’ve really kept it simple. And we just, we follow the goals, follow the KPIs. And we
Deliver you say it’s simple, but for most people they’re like, wait, what?
No, I know, I know this is what we do every day though. Right? I don’t wanna give away too much cuz this is what we say it down. And help people do is like, let’s figure out how to build a sustainable lead engine. Because that’s usually the biggest, here’s what, here’s what I find people either struggle between, you know, sales and marketing on the growth side or they struggle on the capacity side, which I consider leadership and recruiting. Yeah. Like those are the two. And I think of like financials as in the middle, right? You gotta have financials locked down, otherwise you can’t scale. So once the financials are solve and I don’t just mean you have money, I just mean cash flow price per widget margin per, per widget, future performance, stress tests. You know, now I’m just, you know, sharing a bunch of random terms, but all these things are vital to be put in place. And then it’s, we just find business owners, Teeter, totter back and forth. Like, do I need to drive the sales and marketing? I, or do I need to drive the leadership in recruiting? And you’ve gotta build an engine for both. And once you have it, you get this really nice. We call it the propeller. You just start taking off, you know, flying to wherever your destiny is. Whenever you have those two things running at the same pace.
Yeah. We, it’s so funny. We talk about that all the time. But it’s like, if you only have one of ’em that’s growth, but you have to both to have scale, you can grow on both sides. Right. But you have to have both to really have scale. And I, and I love that. And so, so I have two, two quick follow ups on this and I’m watching the clock too. I promise. I’m not gonna keep you here all day. No,
But you have this one thing, which I don’t think is confidential. So hopefully I’m not like
No, no. It’s okay. Yeah. What is it?
This concept that you have of enterprise affiliates.
Right. So I think that’s pretty revolutionary and not something all that common in this industry. And I don’t know what report you were reading, but I was probably reading the same report just a few weeks ago, talking about how the estimated market net worth of the coaching industry is about 11 billion, right. That is estimated over the next 24 months to reach 20 billion. It’s
The second. Yeah. It’s growing a
Growing industry in the world, but here’s the part that’s crazy. It’s totally unregulated. Right? There’s no regulatory body that’s governing this no industry. So it really does come down to who’s being referred. Who’s most trustworthy who who’s got these connections. And I think that’s really substantial because that’s ultimately what we do brain builders group. Right. It’s how do you establish a personal brand? It’s how do you build your reputation? How do you become known as the go-to person for X, Y, or Z? And so this concept of being able to multiply this referral concept within an entire organization or association, I think is brilliant and revolutionary, and it might, may seem like duh, that’s what we do. But I think for most of most of the world, but I’m sorry, what are you talking about? What is an internal,
Well, you made it, yeah, I was gonna say you made it sound really fancy. I don’t even, I don’t even say that those words together the enterprise affiliate, that’s what I call it. I’m gonna steal it and go into my team from meeting next week and go, it’s time to talk about our enterprise affiliate program. What I, I just, I just call strategic partnerships, right? This is, this is about the idea of a one to mini model, right? You could spend your time selling a single business owner and are, and I’m using in my language, you know, whatever your end user is for, for you, whoever’s listening. And then, or I could go sell the person and create value for the individual, to, for them to bring me in to as many of their clients as possible or their network or their association.
And so this started back. I mean, we were, we were one of the, we were one of the companies that came out of the WeWork, boom, you know, WeWork went up next to my house. We got our glass box that we sat in for a few years when we got our start, before we moved into other offices. And when we were going through that, you know, I, it was right at my fingertips. I’m just, I’m working with the community manager of the it’s local WeWork. So just remove enterprise. Cause I think if people go after enterprise, they may, they may fail quite a quite quickly. I we’ve got a lot of enterprise partners now, but I didn’t start by going after enterprise partners. I wouldn’t have got time a day. Right. You have to get to a certain scale to, you can keep up with the enterprise partner.
So I would share that openly. So people don’t get just misguided here, but think about what is enterprise for you, right? Think about who’s your type of strategic partner. So this cowork space, really simple example. When we got started this community manager, I’m talking about going, how do I help you keep your clients here? What’s your biggest issue? Oh, your, your business is coming for a year and then they don’t renew. What if I could help you double that renewal rate? What would that do for your, your depart? What would that do for your job? Your role here as an employee, like you would do this like great. I wanna put together an education series and I want your help to go around and get all the businesses to come meet with me. I got like 13 clients outta this one, WeWork by just doing a couple simple little tactics of focusing on that partnership.
Another example is, you know, we figured out the financial advisors they make more money when they have assets under management, the more assets they have. So let’s go have a financial advisor, introduce us to every business owner that they know, because we know we know how to make the business owner grow. As they grow more assets under management, financial advisor wins, we win accountants accountants when they grow their, their, their book of, you know, the business that they’re leading as a tax accountant as they grow that, that, that business grows, right. They have to bill more, it gets more complicated lawyers. They get to bill more, the larger the business becomes. So we just started going around telling our story and going, this is the type of growth rate we’re getting it kind of a no brainer. You should probably just introduce all your clients to us.
Let’s figure out the right way to do that for you organically, that doesn’t come off as a sale and instead just pure added value. And we’ll be your partner in crime. And by doing that, you know, they’re gonna stay with you as a lawyer and accountant and they’re gonna keep growing. And so there’s just a pure belief in that. And we teach our advisors do that on the individual level. And then, you know, my partnership team’s going out and working with what you call these more enterprise levels now where we get these massive partnerships and yeah, for sure. It’s, it’s helping us scale. So yeah.
You know, it’s interesting because a huge part of our business comes from our affiliate partnerships, but all of our affiliates are individuals, right? Yeah.
But that’s where you gotta start, but that’s where you started. Right. And it makes sense that you going, I gotta go to enterprise now. I think I’m getting up. And AJ, you guys have had a huge successful ride. Right. So I get it. But other people just starting, I just didn’t want them to hear like, yeah, I’m gonna go have a conversation with Amazon. I’m like, Amazon’s tough. I’ve had that conversation. Well, you knowing, cause
Like I left that conversation and I literally went to Roy and was like, we have to have an enterprise affiliate program like that, like move my head and immediately went and
To how corporate you made it sound overnight. Yes. So
But it’s like one of those things where it’s like for anybody it’s yeah. It doesn’t matter if it’s your local chamber chamber of commerce or your business journal or it’s, you know, a national association it’s like, where can you create strategic partnerships? And one of the things I love is I think a lot to people naturally today when they hear marketing, they automatically think of digital marketing and there’s a whole world of offline marketing that surprise still really works.
It does. I, I, I, I’m so glad you brought that up. I mean, you know, look, we, we do digital marketing, you know, we’ve got marketing companies out there supporting us and helping us drive and, and all of their different niche, you know, and they all tell me they’re gonna be my best lead source. They’re not like client referrals is still my best lead source. But you know what? You have to look at it when you’re in a professional service base. I put all of us in a professional service. Okay. So that’s how I just view the category of what we’re at. And if you look at it, you rarely hear about a profess service scaling because of digital marketing. Now that’s different than brand reputation. You need Google Yelp reviews. You need people to understand reputation, you need success, or you need an awesomely built website that does SEO rank that does allow Google to find you.
I mean, those are just the that’s any business. Now, if you wanna be relevant and you wanna have a chance of growth these days, you’re gonna have to have a nice, you know, online footprint, right. But then there’s this outbound, you know, digital marketing approach, HubSpot will say, it’s the inbound, you know, put out content, get people to follow you. I, I personally find that unless you’re gonna go at scale that it’s really hard. And, but you need to put out content because you actually just wanna help and tell your story and help, you know, towards your mission of whatever niche you’re in. So use that as I view digital marketing, more so as competency as how you like help support conversion as people meet you, it tells your story on the footprint when they’re like, oh wow, look at all these things they publish or look at all these content piece is they’re obviously an expert at what I’m trying to solve.
Instead, get out pound the pavement, get into conversations and get people to refer you in. And you know, if you, if you pass that five to 10 million line, all right, go hire a big digital marketing firm and PR firm. Like I have to go do what I need to do to get additional scale, but I pay five to six times the acquisition costs per client on the digital marketing space than I do to get a referral. So, and that includes my, my employee’s salaries to manage partnerships by the way. So it’s not free, right? It isn’t free. There are other costs associated. It’s just that it, it just comes out so much cheaper than the digital marketing scale, especially now, right? All their algorithms changing. It’s just more and more expensive to play in that space. And it’s and this industry so busy, it is so busy.
Yeah. Well, I think one of the things and why I wanted to pop this up is again, it’s like, I just think about all the questions that our community and our clients ask us and a constant one is how do I get more clients? And I’m like, well, step one, it’s not gonna happen from your Instagram count. Most likely
Probably where it will happen is in your local community. So let’s not forget about the importance of that offline brand, that offline reputation is offline efforts. And it’s not one or the other, it’s both. Right. But I love the, hear, you just reinforcing the power of doing great work and getting good referrals. Right. I think that’s huge. And then if you can build those start small, maybe not enterprise, but those small strategic partnerships, Right? It’s like, if you believe in what you do enough, then go say, I’ll do a free workshop. I’ll do a free training. Just invite people
For sure. We get we of all day. I mean, every, every single person, you know, every business owner we meet, you know, if we feel there’s somewhat qualified, we’ll sit down and give ’em two hours assessment. We’ll, we’ll blow their mind by the time they walk outta to our meeting, this
Is the next thing I wanna talk about. You think this is normal, this is not normal. So I talk about, so cause I would say this is a part of your sales strategy.
Right? All right. Fair enough.
This is part of your sales strategy. So walk everybody through it. Like how do you acquire a customer?
Sure. I, I can’t go into all the detail, but I can share this. You know, what we believe is that there has to be a partnership formed for a coaching relationship to happen, right? Or a speaking relationship or whatever it is. And so often what people wanna do is come, you know, have us pitch, what can we do for them? And we just refuse to do it. Our perspective is no, every business is different. Every, every way we approach this is gonna be slightly different. Yes. We’re gonna use the same type of resources, expertise, and all that to help move you. But it has to be tailored. That’s just, you know, a foundation of a, our values. And so when we meet a business owner, we are always quick to say, you know what? Let’s just cut the crap. Let me sit down for two hours.
Let me bring third party. Let me start ask, just show you what we’re capable of doing and how fast I can connect. Some things you probably have not connected in your own business. And that usually peaks everybody’s interest to go. Well, now I’m curious, right? We sit down and we’re, we just bat a really high average when we do those two hour sessions where people go, if I had you by my side, I’d know I’d be going way faster. And then we have to deliver, right. People start to measure how much they’re growing. We make sure they know how much they’ve grown since they’ve joined us and to reinforce it. And so way we go, I mean, and that’s just, we’re, we’re very quick. And, and if we got to the end of the first two hours and they weren’t blown away and oh, we’d probably give another two hours. Cause we’re confused. Why they’re not blown away. You know, if we really thought there was an opportunity you know, and so we, we, we prove it. We prove it, right. We let the Google reviews speak for themselves. We let the, we let what we could do for them, you know, and let them experience, prove it versus ever showing them a deck or explain to them how amazing we are. Cause we just don’t think any of that matters. I feel like there’s too much noise.
So good. It’s like one of my favorite saying is why tell if you can show, right? It’s like, yeah.
Why show’s tell all day? Why,
Why are we talking about this? Let me just show you. So I think for everyone listening, like here’s the main takeaway that I really want you to grasp onto. It’s like, if you know what you do works, if you know, what’s gonna change someone’s life. If you know, it’s gonna make a difference, then give as much of it away for free because people will sell themselves. Yeah. They, they will sell themselves. If you can provide something, that’s going to help them. Right. And it’s like, make it so good that people are like, how do I buy this? Like, can I give you my money? Like how do I have more of it?
But Phish in the right pond, that’s also really important. Right? Because be, you know, sometimes I see people like go on Instagram or Facebook cuz they like, I just laugh. Sorry. I was laughing earlier when you’re like, they think they’re gonna grow by doing this, my favorite comment. And some somebody says, I need to re update my website. I always just love on how many people have seen your website, you know? And they’re like 500 and the last six, I’m like not your issue. That’s not need to spend your time. Yeah. That’s not where your time should be spent if you wanna grow. If you’re solopreneur trying to scale that next chapter. But you know, I, I, you know what I always, what I always think about is these, these folks that, you know, they’ll put out the, the ether go offering free sessions. We would never do that.
Notice how I said, I said, if you qualify, yep. Right. We’re always willing to take a quick call, but we’re just gonna ask you a couple questions. We know when it makes sense to work with us, when it doesn’t we ask just a couple questions, just tells us a little bit before we would then commit our time and what we always tell people before we set that free assessment, you better treat this as paid. Otherwise we’re not interested. Yeah. You better come ready, you know, to learn. And so it’s all about how you set those expectations and where you fish, meaning what type of leads are you pulling in that will, you know, meet, be your qualified type of you know, ideal client
And what’s your filter. Right. So I think you said you guys call it an assessment, right? Like take our,
We call an assessment. Yeah. We, we do a two hours assessment to break down the business. Yep.
And then it’s like, so we, we do something similar, right? It’s like we offer a one hour free brand strategy call, but you have to apply. So like we actually have you go through an application and if you don’t fit, we give you a bunch of free resources and say, come back when you’re ready until then. Yeah,
Exactly. It’s not, it’s not the right fit free
Stuff. But I love, I love this concept and I don’t, I don’t remember if this is what you call it, but when I talk about what you do, I call these the tribe before you buy it calls. What do you mean? Okay. Yeah. What do you call ’em?
We call ’em a free advising session. I mean, you can, you can call you, can you like to you’re you’re the storyteller though. AJ you’re you’re the, you’re the one that teaches people how to manage your brand. So ill run with the way you designed the words.
Listen, I have literally constructed our entire team about your in enterprise affiliate program.
Yeah. I’ve never used those terms together and
Your try it before you buy it program and
Love you just, you just turned it into a widget for yourself and put it into the business, which I, I was joking earlier R and D everybody listening. I mean, this is how you grow business. Right? How did I learn all this stuff? I’ve just robbed it from other people that’s right, right. Just R and D Robin duplicate. So duplicate.
Oh, that is awesome. Okay. So one last question. And then one of the things that’s so cool for all of you guys listening is I’m gonna provide a link in the show notes where Casey and his team are gonna give you guys the chance to take this assessment. And if it’s a fit, then you’re gonna get one of these two hour business consultations with his team, which I think is so awesome. So thank you for that. I’ll have the link in the show notes. But my last question, before we are going, all right, actually I wrote this down, right? So if there was one thing that any, I’m gonna say, coach, that any coach needs to do in order to grow their business right now, current day, like present tense, what would you say is like the number one thing to do? If it’s only one thing, what’s the one thing they should do,
Help your clients tell your success story.
Love that. That’s why I love you.
Figure how to do that. You’ll scale. You’ll grow.
Oh, this has been so good. Thank you so much. So insightful. So enlightening, so many great takeaways. I love the concept of really just focus on building an employee model building strategic partnerships, focusing on client referrals, getting away from this trendy thing of digital more, not that it’s not important, but there’s other ways to do it. It’s it’s not, you know which one it’s just how much of each one? Yeah, so good. Casey, thank you so much.
Oh, you’re so welcome. Thanks for having me.
And then last but not Lisa, if people wanna connect with you directly. I know I’ll put this link in the show notes, but it’s connect with you directly right on LinkedIn.
Yeah. Best way to get, get in touch with me.
Yep. On LinkedIn. I’ll put all the links in the show notes. Casey, thank you so much.
You bet, AJ. Thanks so much. Bye-Bye
Speaker 3 (38:52):
Hey, brand builder, Rory Vaden here. Thank you so much for taking the time to check out this interview as always, it’s our honor to provide it to you for free and wanted to let you know there’s no big sales pitch or anything coming at the end. However, if you are someone who is looking to build and monetize your personal brand, we would love to talk to you and get to know you a little bit and hear about some of your dreams and visions and share with you a little bit about what we’re up to to see if we might be a fit. So if you’re interested in a free strategy call with someone from our team, we would love to hear from you. You can do that at brand builders, group.com/pod call brand builders, group.com/pod call. We hope to talk to you soon.
All right. Y welcome to the recap episode on my conversation with Casey Clark one of the founders cultivate advisors, and this is all about how to build and scale and enterprise coaching business which they have done exceptionally well. And it’s just a exploding on so many different levels. So what are we gonna do on this recap episode? I’m gonna talk about two or three different things that I learned from Casey that I think as a as what I consider myself a coach, right? Of how to really build and scale your coaching business. All right, these are things that I think are fascinating and I think are really important. Number one, an employee model versus contractor. It is such a temptation of, of an as an entre entrepreneur to go. And there’s so much risk involved with bringing on employees, especially in that start, those startup years of going.
There’s just too much risk, so I’ll contract the workout. But I think to his point, it’s like if you’re really building a business and a company where you wanna influence the experience more and you wanna have people bought into this business, like it’s their business employee model is the way to go. And that is not the norm for Mo most coaching practices. But when you look at the scale of cultivated advisors compared to maybe other firms around the country like that I think at the results speak for themselves and I love what he said. It’s like, I hope they don’t feel like employees. I hope they feel like partners because that’s really what they are for us. And so it’s building a culture where people aren’t working for you. They are people working with you, right? This whole concept of two is more better than one.
And five is better than two. One of my faith quotes is an old African proverb that says you can go if you go alone, you they’ll go fast, but if you wanna go far, you need to go with others. And this concept of bringing people in but with this employee model, it’s like, there’s a win-win benefit of like, they’re committed. They’re in, you got all their time, all their interests, all their commitment and vice versa, right? So there’s this partnership mentality of like, no we’re doing this together to get everyone on the same page and to create a, a unified experience and to be build something together. And I just think that’s abnormal. But very much worth looking into if you really wanna build and scale a coaching business. So we we’ve done it both ways.
So I have personally been a part of companies where we built and scaled our coaching business with contractors and now one with doing with employees and it is drastically different. And so you gotta figure out what works and what, what your risk tolerance is, but knowing that you can do it that way and perhaps that’s the way to go for you. So I thought that was really insightful and not something you hear so many people talking about in this industry. Second thing is not what he calls it, but what I call, what he does is a lever, the strategic partnerships and what I call enterprise affiliates. I just, I heard that wrong in my mind and made up a new term for him. But strategic partnerships is really what they are. Right. but creating organizational relationships where it is a one to many referral relationship.
And I love what he said. He does. We do a lot of digital market and we do trade shows and we do a lot of things. Like they’re a healthy eight figure coaching business. He said, but I’ll tell you where the majority of our business comes from referrals. Right? And it’s like, what is your system for generating referrals? Right? Cause if you’re waiting on all inbound leads or you’re just banking on SEO or paid traffic, that’s, that’s a long and very potentially expensive game. Right. It also takes a lot of other people to make those things work. And those are a lot of assets where really to get a referral, it just takes you to do a really good job. So what is your referral system, right? Yes. Should you have SEO? Yep. Do you need social media? Yep. Do you need content marketing?
Sure. You do. I’m not saying those things. Aren’t important. I’m saying, do you put as much time, energy intent, focus, resources on generating your referral system as you do all that other stuff? Because I tell you what, there’s a lot of trendy conversations around digital marketing. Are you listening to as many of those conversations around human relationships and human connections, just asking for a good old fashioned referral from the customers who actually work with you and the people who work with you and your suppliers and your vendors and your friends and your family and networking meetings and all the things. Right. so referrals, like, don’t forget the importance of those and doing that on a one to one, but also one to many. So it’s asking yourself, it’s like, what organizations can I go out and serve to create some strategic relationships with that?
Perhaps what I do would be of benefit to the people that they serve. Right. And it’s finding complimentary partners. Right? I think these are great examples. And he gave a couple of them. He goes, Hey, it’s like, you know, we’re gonna go out and we’re gonna talk to a financial advisory company where we have one or two people and it’s like, I’ll go out and do a free workshop. And it’s like, this is how I can help you build that business. Or maybe it’s a local association where they need speakers and they need content, but it’s like, yeah, you can promote your services to our members. You, but it’s like, what, and who are those organizations and people in your local community or your virtual online community that you could create some strategic partnerships with and create a one, one a win win relationship on a one to many scale.
So again, just that emphasis on, on where do you wanna put your time and energy? Because it can easily be diluted in a lot of different arenas. But I just fundamentally believe it’s like, if I need a coach, I’m not going to the Google. I’m not going there. I’m gonna reach out to my friends, my entrepreneur, friends, associations, I’m a part of masterminds and I’m gonna go, who have you used? And who do you recommend? And that’s word of mouth marketing. And we need as much time and intent on that. I E building our reputation, shameless plug, building your personal brand, as you do anything else. And so who are those people and what, what relationships are you nurturing to build those strategic partnerships? So great reminder, right in the gut number two. And then number three, is this concept of sample calls of going, if you believe in what you do, then why not give some of it away for free, like prove it, right.
It’s what I I’ve been telling our team that they do at cultivate. It’s called try it before you, right. You don’t know if this is a fit for you. You don’t believe us. So that’s all right. We’re hap we’re happy to give you in their case, a two hour consultation to show you what we do so that, you know, if it’s a fit for you and if it’s not, the two hours are yours and if it is then we should work together. Right? And it’s like, I think so many of us us are afraid to give anything away for free. Well, why not? Like you can find any information that you need out on the internet for free people. Aren’t paying for information anymore. They’re paying for guidance and application. They’re paying for organ organization of the information and application of actually the how to not just the, what the, how to, and it’s like, I’m so much inclined to go, right?
I’ll try this for two hours and prove that that it’s good. Give me the confidence. Show me. You can help me. I’ll happily give you my money versus going, man. I don’t know. I hope so. I think so. I guess I’ll try it, but I don’t wanna sign a, you know, like a long term. I don’t wanna sign my life away. Like what do I do here? So what are you doing to help increase the confide of your perspective? Buyers of making it a, a very easy answer so they know what they’re getting into. They’re getting value up front. And it’s making the sale a whole lot easier because the quality of your service sells itself. So those are three core takeaways. I thought this was such a powerful interview. It’s like, if you are in the coaching industry, if you are a coach consultant trainer, you must listen. To this episode, it is a sure way of helping you build and scale your coaching business. So until next time we’ll you later on influential personal brand.