The Current State of Digital Marketing

Hosted By Matt DeCoursey

Full Scale

See All Episodes With Matt DeCoursey

Michael Richards

Today's Guest: Michael Richards

COO - 561 Media

Boca Raton, FL

Ep. #939 - The Current State of Digital Marketing

Today’s Startup Hustle episode highlights the current state of digital marketing. Matt DeCoursey shares the mic with Michael Richards, COO of 561 Media. Together, they embark on an insightful discussion revolving around digital marketing trends, data privacy, and customer avatar.

Covered In This Episode

Are you using your customer profiles the right way? Is there a digital marketing trend you should know about? All these and more are answered by Matt and Michael in their discussion.

We can also take a sneak peek at how 561 Media started and its services. Also, listen in for the best advice that Michael shares with our Startup Hustle listeners.

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Business Podcast for Entrepreneurs


  • Looking into 561 Media’s backstory (02:06)
  • Defining digital marketing (03:37)
  • What is unique about digital marketing? (04:50)
  • The big shift of advertising techniques—traditional vs. modern (06:27)
  • Evolution on targeting, KPIs, and success metrics (08:56)
  • Digital marketing trends (e.g., influencer marketing, short-form content) (11:07)
  • The power of brand image in the era of phones and instant recordings (14:47)
  • On data privacy, personalization, transparency, and customer trust (16:46)
  • Why Michael is comfortable with sharing his information with advertisers (18:22)
  • Conversational advertising and consumer engagement (18:22)
  • The thing about no-code styles and proprietary software (25:10)
  • Defining customer avatar and using it efficiently (32:14)
  • Realities of businesses not defining their customer avatars clearly (38:17)
  • The marketing advice every entrepreneur should know about (41:27)

Key Quotes

With all that power to produce content also came to power to ruin your brand. Pretty quickly.

– Matt DeCoursey

Personally, I accept everyone and share all my information with advertisers . . . Get exposed to as many new things as possible. And if AI helps do it, run it. If that’s, you know, it’s not a privacy issue. They’re not digging into that much stuff. And half of the people already signed up for TikTok. So, you know, they’re gonna get most of your info, and they get your face. So who cares?

– Michael Richards

Go in with an idea. Go in with a purpose. If you can’t answer: Why am I doing this? What are we? What are we trying to get out of it? And if you don’t have a definitive answer, then you’re not doing it right.

– Michael Richards

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Moreover, discover what our podcast partners can also offer for your business.

Rough Transcript

Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!

Matt DeCoursey 00:00
And we’re back! Back for another episode of Startup Hustle. Matt DeCoursey here to have another conversation I’m hoping helps your business grow. Everything around us is digital. These days, you have digital marketing, digital advertising, digital phones, and everything’s gone digital. But there’s been quite a bit of change and evolution when it comes to digital marketing. And that is exactly what I’m gonna talk about with today’s guests. Before I get into who that is, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by Hiring software developers is difficult, and Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And has the platform to help you manage that team. Visit to learn more. With me today, I have Michael Richards, and Michael is the CEO of 561 Media. That is a digital marketing firm located in sunny Boca Raton, Florida. Listen, assuming it’s sunny, maybe Michael has something more to say about that. So let’s just go ahead and say, Michael, welcome to Startup Hustle.

Michael Richards 01:05
Hey, man, it’s nice to be here. It is very sunny. We’re about 100 degrees right now. I just walked out of my truck.

Matt DeCoursey 01:10
Yeah, well, I’m here in Kansas City. And yes, it’s been 100 degrees here too. So I guess that means it’s sunny. So, you know, let’s go ahead and get started with a little bit about your backstory. And a little bit about what 561 Media does.

Michael Richards 01:16
Yeah. So 561 Media, we’ve been around for 15 years next February. From that site, we actually started up as one of the original e-commerce development companies. I mean, we used to build custom Dotnet shopping carts for people, and, you know, as that went on, they’d spend $50-60,000 on e-commerce platforms that didn’t exist. You know, 15 years ago, questions started to happen. Hey, now that we have this built, how do we have our sales teams actually market it? How do we get new customers outside of the existing, you know, old, pounding the pavement for sales? That’s kind of where our adage came along. We started out after that point, still building, developing a lot of different web-based applications and e-commerce, and then molded into large-scale SEO, Google Ads that get presented or, you know, at the time, AdWords. Now that we’re functioning more as a complete digital marketing service from purely content development through your paid media, we were one of the first companies to actually be able to have small business testing on Hulu two years ago. With their advertising platform that, I believe, just rolled out publicly. Actually, within the last month or two, people should see more of those coming in. But you know, we’ve been a fluctuating technology company for the last 15 years and really molding based on what customers and clients are needing from digital marketing and media companies.

Matt DeCoursey 02:03
I guess I should probably go ahead and drop a definition of digital marketing at some point. Digital marketing is also known as online marketing, which refers to advertising delivered through digital channels to promote brands and connect potential customers using the Internet and other forms of digital communication. Search engines, websites, social media, phones, who knows. There’s a whole lot and, you know, this is definitely, you know, when you look at the history of advertising, I mean, there’s still a bit of infancy that is surrounding digital marketing. Although it’s really kind of taken over the world of marketing, you know, there was, oh, man, I mean, print dominated forever. And now it’s like, what’s a newspaper? Who gets the newspaper? So does anyone get the newspaper anymore?

Michael Richards 03:43
Yeah, I mean, if you go to Starbucks, I see everybody. They’re still reading those. So, I mean, granted, we have a high in Boca Raton. So, you know, 75-year-olds like to get it. Yeah, I was gonna say, The New York Times is down here where they can’t pick it up in their local borough upstate.

Matt DeCoursey 03:59
Are they just leaving? Are they all sharing the same copy that was left behind by the last guy?

Michael Richards 04:04
You know what, that’s a good question. Probably, just the bathroom, I’d imagine. Yeah, they keep it. But you know, the unique thing with digital marketing is we surpassed traditional media almost three years ago, and average spin, right and total spin. And, as you said, it’s still at an infancy stage. And it’s still adapting to what’s there. And, you know, what we’ve seen here over the last year, is that shift where people’s privacy matters more than ever, we’re losing a lot of those techniques that were so beneficial, you know, before, so we are kind of going back into what I would say it’s like, we’ve left the iron age of digital marketing. We’re moving forward into the future. You know, what we’re going to see come about, I think, over the next five years is really going to change, especially with the implementation of AI. With each vertical that you want to be in. Just the adaption of those will be unique to see how much we look at something where we want to trust what Matt is telling us to do when Google saying, hey, use this new system that we have compared to, you know, our traditional strategies and being more of, we kind of see those Centaur style chess companies, or chess teams that used to be out there, excuse me, where you know, you have AI move the small moves, but the bigger picture is handled more by somebody on the strategy side who understands human interaction, they understand the messaging, the call to actions, what design means to them. So there’s a lot of shifts that I can see still coming here in the future, even at this massive stage that it’s in, you know, where, where do we park like new, new ideas as well?

Matt DeCoursey 05:31
You mentioned certain advertising techniques or methods being outdated, or just kind of moved away from them? What are a couple of examples?

Michael Richards 05:42
I mean, it’s not. I wish we could still use them, right? I mean, it’s just even cookie tracking. I mean, that’s going to change. Google’s basically released new updates on their side, just the way they were gonna be able to track customers. User base feedback is more important than ever. I mean, it is one of those things to truly say how somebody heard of you. First, you almost have to ask anymore, right? I mean, there are so many verticals that you run in, such as good e-commerce or digital service where you know, you’re doing emails, you can do UTM tracking on all of these items. You can do your ads on Facebook and Instagram, you can be on YouTube, you know, you can see where people click, but the idea still goes back to traditional media, right? What’s the value of having the brand in front of something? What’s the value of doing an interview like this? For you know, even for myself and our others, it’s about getting your voice out there and being seen. So we have to come back and really start garnering that user feedback when somebody does come in from a sales touch or even your site. Hey, how did you hear about us first? You know, those are the types of things that we’ve had to evolve back into. It’ll be interesting to see what it is. But it’s really garnered all around the privacy of each other to iOS apps. We all see it now. Right? They asked, Do you want to share this information with the advertiser or the app developers? That’s something new that we used to get for free. And now we’re trying to figure out how to capture that data again so we’re not flying blind when we’re positioning our ads.

Matt DeCoursey 07:05
How’s that changed the approach or delivery of services and advice that affirm like your gifts to clients that, you know, and what and what Michael is talking about is a lot of them, you see these sweeping changes that really kind of started with Apple’s locking down of a lot of iPhone-related stuff. So it makes it hard to track, retarget or even measure or judge the success of certain things that you’re doing. And that can be as simple as like, you click an ad, you visit a site, you buy a product, as an advertiser wanting to know that that ad worked and how it worked and or even that it was successful at all has a whole lot to do with whether or not you’re going to spend any more money on it. Now without access to some of that click tracking or cookie tracking that Michael was talking about earlier, it makes it difficult to do that. So how have you had to change to adapt to the type of ads or success metrics that you’re sharing with clients?

Michael Richards 08:15
I mean, from a KPI standpoint, you know, it’s something from a firm, we’re always pretty large and different. All right, my job is not to prove to you how I’m doing? Well, what we perform with, our goal is to make sure we’re in line with you as a customer. So we set those KPIs and those metrics of saying, what type of success Do you want to see in these areas, we can show keyword rankings, we can show traffic, you can show those types of items you can show, you know, most people bottom line is sales that they want to see an increase on, you know, that’s first is always trying to be transparent, right? Establish your KPIs, with your marketing firm, or even your internal sales base. Here’s how we want to measure based upon those, you know, we can say, Is this possible, is it not? And here’s the items that we can use to show those. That’s really what it is. And initially, what we found to be the best case scenario with any client coming on board. Any existing client even as they mature and change is really setting up buyer avatars and profiles, and what’s your customer look like? You know, from A, B, and C versions, those are certain things that you can now target a little better if we know you know, what their buying influences are, who they are, what they like to purchase, you know, we can get them engaged and usually share that information. But most of our stuff, you know, luckily for us is when we’re doing e-commerce style business, and sign-ups it’s how many new customers have signed on right, based upon what their sales system looks like, you know, and how to work with them seamlessly is is really the main way for me. I mean, I’m, I’m in business development. That’s a lot of my background, end of the day, what do we care about right? New User growth, essentially in sales. That’s usually how we can measure something that’s moving positively. We also do look at You know, interaction in over 90 days, we see more traffic coming in, do we have prospect pipeline that’s, that’s driven higher, can we go back and get capture these with our 90 Day sales cycles and emails, a lot of differences, but it all comes down to being transparent with each other from day one, I think of what they’re looking for as a client and what we can produce as a firm. And that’s something anybody can do, you know, at any level of leadership, I think, pretty easily.

Matt DeCoursey 10:27
So there’s been a lot of trends when it comes to digital marketing. And, you know, you’ve seen this, you know, changes from, I think one of the biggest changes is, I mean, everybody listening would have noticed, we’re kind of in the era of the short, the reel, the story, which has, in my opinion, for visual mediums, just mean anything you see that’s like, you know, filmed, has become, on some levels, incredibly simplistic meaning like, it’s, you can do it with your phone. And yeah, I think that’s actually pretty cool. Because, you know, everyone’s got a smartphone these days, and I, people had a million excuses for not making a good, short video. And now, you know, I think that the advance of the smartphone, and then this short form of the ability to create content, and then COVID. COVID heads and like everyone was at home. So, suddenly, you could record a 22nd clip, and you could clearly be at your home, like, I know, you listening can’t see Michael or I, but I can see you’re in an office. I’m in a home office right now. And five years ago, I probably would have been terrified to publish a short video, where it’s like, oh, that dudes at home. But now you can do that. And it’s yeah, there’s just so much of it. How is that? I mean, do you have any thoughts on, you know, we’re in the age of the influence, or in short form content? And then, man, I just feel like it’s easier than ever to not have an excuse to produce that kind of stuff for your business?

Michael Richards 12:17
I mean, right, I think it gives, it lends a lot of authenticity to something. I think that to me, one of the biggest reasons you buy from anybody or you work with them is authenticity, right? I mean, that’s what’s there. The nice thing is that the technology is so good, you don’t need to go do larger productions, there’s no reason to go spin unless you’re, you know, you’re hiring and doing the 50 to $100,000 commercial spots, where you’re going to rotate these things out within 30 days, and a lot of it has to deal with attention span of people, right? Like you said, that short form contents there, and it hits people so much, how do you make sure that it’s, you’re still capturing them showing your branding, doing things like that, you can’t go spend that type of money to produce, you know, one version of these things, you have to do them eight to nine times over? You know, and that’s the unfortunate side of it is it’s not unfortunate, I shouldn’t say that. It’s changed the way that we do content development quite a bit. But it’s all for the better, in my opinion, right? I mean, it’s 100%. No excuses, you can make it on the fly, you can create amazing content that’s there. And that resonates with your people. And it’s kind of what I said before it goes back to the setting buyer personas, what do our customers who are they? What do they want to see? Right? I mean, it’s, you’re not going to get that same Gucci’s not out here doing pocket pictures, I mean, videos on their cell phone, right, it’s just not what they do. They’re still advertising in GQ and print. They’re still using models for everything. They’re not doing these items. They may be collaborating with influencers, but they’re putting them in on those $100,000 sets, right? It’s really unique to see how brand specific it is and how the buyers interact with that product when you’re creating the content. So you know, the excuses are gone. With it, but there still is, I still think there’s a time and place for those other higher-end mediums as well that still exist.

Matt DeCoursey 14:07
Now with that power to produce that content also came to power to ruin your brand. Pretty quickly. I mean, we’ve seen that we see that happen. It happens regularly. I mean, you know, it’s like if someone’s saying something stupid, doing something stupid, and I mean, everyone’s got the phone and everyone had you why you have the phone in your pocket to record yourself. They have the phone in their pocket to record views. So beware people.

Michael Richards 14:36
I think, here’s my opinion on that, right? If you’re an asshole, and you’re going to get canceled for any reason, or you screw up, you probably it probably should happen, right? You’re just a good person. That’s what it all comes back to at the end of the day. I mean, if you’re not living by that rule, you’ve probably started doing it. You’re not, you don’t have a whole bunch to worry about, you know.

Matt DeCoursey 14:53
I’ve actually never had that comment about it. You know, it’s like, oh my god, I can’t believe they caught that person that At one time, they said that Yeah, that wasn’t the one time they said that.

Michael Richards 15:03
No, I mean, listen, this is gonna die. And we’re, we’ll pivot here for a second on this. But I’ve worked at high-level things and very vocally high level companies in the past, the ones who say they say it often, I’ve always found it’s not like a 112 punch. So, you know, it’s maybe started being better and you don’t have to worry about it. That’s, that’s kind of the way you look at it. And I do listen, is it? It’s something that has arrived, if I do think it’s unfair to some companies that they have, you know, bad customer service with one person who’s had a bad day, things like that you need to run, right? I mean, that’s, we all own and operate businesses, we know how stressful it can be, you know, how employees act, things are going to happen, you’re never going to be 100% all the time. How do those companies rectify it? What do you do? I mean, it’s the customer service approach right after that. And it’s why, especially with Amazon changing so much the way e-commerce has to be, there’s really no questions asked anymore, right? I mean, it’s basically like, Hey, listen, you want to return or you’re not happy? We just got to suck it up and deal with it.

Matt DeCoursey 16:06
You know, another trend that is, I think, healthy. You mentioned privacy, and you have transparency and trust building. And these are things that, you know, this is what I like about the more personalized approach to marketing. And, you know, there’s so many people, my phone is listening to me, it’s probably not, I mean, realistically, it’s not. And these algorithms have gotten pretty good. I mean, as little as we all want to see advertising everywhere, it’s not going away. So I don’t have a problem with it being personalized to ship and I’m actually interested in and might actually buy. And, you know, that’s a big thing. So you know, that personalization. And, you know, crossing this line between when is it private? And when it is not, it is going to be a big thing coming down. So, we also talk, we’re talking about content. Did you ever comment about that?
Michael Richards 17:11
Yeah, I did, actually, yeah, here’s one from my end, right? Well, you look at it this way. I’m somebody who I work in IT. I know a lot of what we actually do capturing what’s available to it from a data side, somewhat the listening and thing not as much people again, this is you see it, but you probably looked at it somewhere else. And you were talking about it later. So now they were listening, right? That’s the idea. I did air quotes.

Matt DeCoursey 17:36
Everybody wanted to know, and they just know, you’re a cat person. Yeah.

Michael Richards 17:39
I mean, these are things that happen, right? I mean, it’s not the world. Personally, I accept everyone and share all my information with advertisers. You know why? Because I buy stuff and I like it. I want more things of what I like, you know, that’s the reality, why not get, you’re telling me I can get things that I possibly could like and never see based on this, and show it to me, I’m into it, you know, and like, that’s, it makes our lives a little easier, in a lot of regards. And you’re not having to go out and you get exposed to new things, which I think people have gotten better with, but in round, yes, get exposed to as many new things as possible. And if AI helps do it, run it, if that’s you know, it’s not a privacy issue, they’re not digging into that much stuff. And half of the people already signed up for Tiktok. So you know, they’re gonna get most of your info and they get your face. So who cares?

Matt DeCoursey 18:26
Now, it didn’t. It didn’t stay here in the US for a year. They’re talking about conversational marketing and quality interactions with people. I think this is something that technology has really stepped up, you know, your ability to. Well, I remember I was thinking about this the other day, and I remember buying something as a child where we sent away a check, and it was like four to six weeks for delivery. And not being able to like if I would have wanted to follow up on someone I would have had you have actually made a long distance phone call that cost money. How about that? And that was a thing for those of you younger listeners, that was a thing once you couldn’t just dial anyone anywhere. You now have this ability to live chat and do a lot of different stuff. And that’s a component of, of digital marketing and creating quality interactions with brands that hasn’t been possible in the past and that’s trending up. I always enjoy it even when it’s, you say quality interactions, I think Wendy’s Twitter feed is just amazing. And I’m gonna leave it up to listeners to go ahead and look at that on your own, but they make some world class comments that are really funny among the Google one and see if we can find one but yeah, that that interaction is if you’re not aware, Wendy’s is known for kind of roasting people. It’s almost like the opposite of quality interaction, but it is great. So it’s so it’s literally like, here’s one. If at Wendy’s, if you reply, I will buy the whole Wendy’s menu right now when he says prove it, and the guy just replies with the trash bag. Love Phil full trash bag. So yeah, it’s like, and you know, they’re they’re just I mean, they’re just keep going on and on and on. But if you don’t follow Wendy’s on Twitter, you are probably missing out. And so I mean, how do you feel about doing that 561 meeting once you get to 561 Learn more about Michael’s company. So when it comes to the interactions, do you coach clients? Are they concerned about it that they want to improve?

Michael Richards 20:44
I mean, do they? So many people do care about having too much, right? I mean, this is what it is, they still expect someone to be able to do 100 out of 100. I’m like your blessing in this world day and age. On social media, don’t you get it? I’ve had people actually literally cost themselves hundreds of 1000s of dollars, because they were so worried about getting bad things that they don’t want to be upset anymore. And they’re not even bad. It’s just as somebody says, hey, frozen, whose fruit we sell a lot of stone crabs online. I’ll plug one of our companies. Have you guys ever had stone crab claws, Key Largo fisheries, it’s a high end seafood item, essentially, right? It’s one out of this world. Unlike any other seafood there. There’s only a season that runs basically October through May that exists for him. So you get a small window to try them. Luckily, we blast freeze in the same way that you do high end sushi, like, tutorial and otoro. When it comes over, you can sell them all year when this way, our locals down here in Florida, you know, from time to time can be a little different. They love to make comments about, you know, not being in season, don’t try all these things. So they used to be hesitant now as we went nationwide with it. Um, uh, guys, just make a comment back, tell them what the reason is and explain it. So, you know, that changed alone. And they went from doing a couple 100,000 a year to most, you know, well into eight figures online only. So it’s, you know, letting go a little bit and understanding that people are going to have comments, things to say online of all plays into the world, it’s not really going to jeopardize your business in many regards. Some levels of it and go back to the old world, right? All I mean, all advertising is good advertising. So if somebody wants to talk about you, they’re going to bring people back up and decide what they think right? At the end of the day. But we tried to coach you know, it’s again, it’s the thing, just be a good person on it explained to individuals you can, you can lose as many by you know, being a little little combative, but a lot of times it’s an easy conversation online, just do what you would do. If you were on the other end of the line with them.

Matt DeCoursey 22:48
I think the worst thing to do is actually not reply.

Michael Richards 22:52
Yeah, it depends, right? I mean, I go back and forth. I do think you should reply right? You should have a saying and now you have to because, I mean, they allow anyone to say anything, right? Even in defamatory scenarios, you just make something up, people would have no interaction with your company and go online and try to say it based upon this. I actually had a customer in here before he sold. Locally, he’s basically a huge landscaper in Wellington, Florida, does massive, massive landscaping projects, but he also gets wholesale access to nurseries. So he’s spun up this EECOM site and basically gives half the price of Home Depot can drop off landscaping your house, you know the same thing he would put in for hundreds of 1000s you’re buying for, you know pennies on the dollar delivery to go into somebody’s the stolen credit card on his website, and the person decided to give him a one-star who won the credit card like it was his fault. You know, hit there, where he’s like, I’m sorry, I refunded you did everything, do you know what I mean? That’s it. What else am I supposed to do? And it’s my fault that someone stole your credit card. Yeah, those are the types of things that are gonna happen, and you can reply to him in a good way. But you know, by ignoring them, it’s always a tough scenario for sure.

Matt DeCoursey 24:01
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Michael Richards 24:30
I know you guys in, you’re in kind of what you guys do on just you know we have background in software development that as well I’m obviously what do you guys see like are these no code style like what are your thoughts on like bubble that pops up and these other you know, stacker HQ where you can build web-based apps that they’re saying are, you know, no code for that long term? Obviously, we know to get any valuation out of it. You gotta have proprietary software, really, but you see a lot of these new sites. As companies pop up, and they’re not using, you know, necessarily proprietary stuff right away, they’re kind of pasting and connecting to get those beta tests and proofs of concepts done.

Matt DeCoursey 25:10
I think that’s good for MVP type stuff, minimally viable products. And it’s a good proof of concept. But you know, and I’ve actually recommended to quite a few people that they use things like And if you’re not familiar, that’s Yeah, yeah, no. Well, it’s fine, because it has its place. And I think that’s really for companies that, I mean, I think that’s kind of like Zapier, like is a platform built to connect platforms to other platforms, I use it.

Michael Richards 25:48
And it’s honestly one of the biggest tools we’ve ever had. I mean, Facebook doesn’t even have a decent advertising platform where you can get leads emailed to you, literally if you don’t have a CRM that connects with it, which is a lot. Don’t you have to use Zapier? Right?

Matt DeCoursey 26:02
I mean, I think a lot of people are in for a little bit of heartbreak if they go to try to scale that to the next level, because they own anything you create and nothing bubble and there, you know, you gotta read the read the fine print, I like I said, I think it serves I’ve actually recommended to quite a few early, the earliest stage founders that they try something like that, because they need to be ballers on a budget, they need to show something that, but the thing is, it is if you don’t own it, I mean, you’ve kind of built the Franken platform, as you do get to a point where if it’s not proprietary, it’s problematic. And so yeah, I think I think that I’m a supporter of stuff like that, because I think that there’s the thing that sucks for a lot of people. And you remember, like, you talked about building shopping cart software and stuff like that. I don’t like to see people with orphan products. Yeah. Oftentimes, you know, they find a developer. And that’s not really I mean, Full Scale. That’s not really what we do. We’re working on kind of like bigger, bigger, larger things in perpetuity, but you talk about someone that builds something, and they have absolutely no ability to support it. And that’s where I think that the low code, or no code stuff is good for a lot of businesses. And also, there’s just a lot of shit, you should just shouldn’t have to hire a developer for.

Michael Richards 27:27
I mean, that’s that, is it, right? I mean, here’s the thing. We used to get pitch, we used to have to build social platforms. This was years ago, when it was hot, right? Everybody wanted to build one, it had these ideas. These are the same inventors who used to, you know, back in the 70s, 80s, when they had these ideas, they didn’t need coding to do stuff, right? It was, oh, I have this idea. Here’s how I want to do it. They didn’t need to have developers then they would come in, I’m like, Hey, you’re talking about a project, that’s gonna be six figures initially. And now guess what, you got to maintain the damn thing. Through it, you know how much that’s gonna cost whatever that guy is half price, what his full time salary is for me to sit on them. And you may use them once a month, you may use them nine times a month, I don’t really can’t help you. And that’s, I think that’s where something like Full Scale does help, right? I mean, you guys obviously can perform and attach with them and even bubble, it helps you guys and even people like me, where it is something coming in, hey, you have you have a proof of concept you have, you’re going to not kill my project managers, you’re not going to kill us. As we develop everything we know what kind of what you’re looking to do. You just don’t know how to really do it. And you’re just connecting it in a way with some rudimentary development based API’s. But it does help you build that proprietary and lay them out software and so much of what we do and at what cost and I don’t even scope projects out for people without paying anymore. You know, years ago, maybe when I was smaller now it’s like, dude, listen, you’re going to pay me X amount for it. Because you’re just going to take this and you can use it anywhere. And if you choose us to build it, right, yeah, knowledge you carry over that deposit, essentially, to the project. But it takes so long to actually put together and it’s such a labor zone, that I do kind of see these properties. And I’ve done the same thing where I’ve pushed people towards them. It’s like, hey, go figure your product out a little better. See what it takes to actually do that. And then if you want some expertise in some real building on it, we can help you, you know, it doesn’t even scope projects at all.

Matt DeCoursey 29:17
We don’t bet on them. We don’t do any of that. We don’t do any Stamer fees, you guys, you guys that didn’t have to deal with those. Nope, nope. Our deliverables our time know what you’re doing when you show up. Yeah. Otherwise, we’re saying no. Yeah, that’s like the number one thing when we started that business, and yeah, no, that’s still clearly not the wrong thing. We were on the Inc. 5000 last year.

Michael Richards 29:45
It’s listening. I think more people are adapting these ideas, right? It’s something that we’ve changed the issue and like a business like mine, right? We are as hacky as people who exist. There’s a lot of people working on their things. They say SEO they may not get into it. They may touch them. His property once a month, you know what I mean? There’s that then you get the stigma of I used somebody five years ago and didn’t work, then you did this and it didn’t work. It’s like, it has streamlined now, when you see the delights of the world, and you see other people getting into digital marketing, it is a legitimate business when done right? You know, I mean, but there is, I can say this from being around for so long and seeing competition build and where they’re at. There are some really bad ones. I mean, I can name off 12 people, like if customers say they were working with X, Y, and Z aren’t Arabic. Yeah, you didn’t get anything done. I know the guys, I fired him two months ago, or two years ago, you know, I mean, it’s like, that’s what we have. And it’s so easy to spin up a website, you can pay a guy in India $400. If you take a look at people’s, I believe this, we take a view, look at people’s websites or collateral, their type of presentation to you, that’s usually who they are as a company in detail. So if you’re looking at something like well, why isn’t this nice? Why, you know, it doesn’t look that great, but they sound smart. It’s usually because they’re not, they’re usually sales guys, and they don’t really know what they’re doing on that digital marketing side. So I always try to warn people, when they’re getting into this, it can be a very fruitful business have done right, you can also make a lot of mistakes by hiring the wrong people, you know, and you can be six months behind, before you even turn out, you have nothing to show for it.

Matt DeCoursey 31:14
All the time, I answered that distress call to men, which I would prefer that turned into fiction, meaning like that they didn’t exist, and I want to go back and actually, I want to talk about something that we were talking about earlier. And, and that’s customer avatars. So you know, like, you know, a customer avatar is sometimes referred to as a buyer persona, marketing persona customer profile. And you know, it’s a, it’s a representation of your ideal customer. Part of the end part of what that’s part of what we were just talking about kind of brought, you know, that kind of brought up the idea or brought me back to what we were talking about earlier. So it’s the type of person that you want to purchase your products or services, you know, and handle them correctly. An avatar provides valuable insight into who your ideal customer is, what they want, where they spend their time and how your offering can address their problems. So like it’s it’s it it is a fictional character so I said I’d love to turn the unhappy customer into into fiction like it didn’t exist anymore, but you know, that’s always going to come up but that fictional character with wants needs pain points, you know, a single individual depicting your target audience. So when it comes to I feel like this is a this is a whether it’s digital marketing, or your business in general, I feel like that developing an understanding your target customer and your buyer persona, like at Full Scale, it’s typically, like, like I mentioned, we don’t do statement of our contracts, we don’t scope things out, we don’t review your existing code to tell you if it’s any good or not. That’s not what we do. We take your plate and we snap pieces onto your existing team. And if you don’t have certain members on that team already, your buyer persona score with us is plummeting. Because we’ve learned we’ve learned who’s going to be successful in our model and who isn’t. And and we’re not just saying you we actually say no, to more people than we say yes to and sometimes my peers are like, Dude, what the fuck your turn, I can do it all. I suppose about 20 grand a month? What do you mean, you’re saying no to people? I’m saying I would rather not have that money at all. Then deal with the wrong buyer.

Michael Richards 33:51
Yes, 100%. It’s a hindrance, right? I mean, it’s something where it’s like, listen, I only have a finite amount of time. I work a lot. So if someone comes in and you want to take an extra three hours introducing me to my day or say even a work week, that’s a lot of damn time when you do it at the end of it. What’s your time worth? Right? I mean, what’s your what’s your time’s worth? You know, this is something that you guys have to deal with in a very unique way that you run your team that’s off site and you have employees you can’t have employees be tucked to bed right.

Matt DeCoursey 34:24
I mean that’s the one that they have to want to work for them, and you guys are in a very unique scenario where now it’s time for us if you’re gonna train our people like shit you’re out.

Michael Richards 34:28
Yeah, I mean that’s the day there’s multiple times we’ve added in this area we get a lot of overtime and luckily has a lot of money right I mean, it’s great for us business falls out of the sky and you’re literally we’re talking today are like blank checks Palm Beach Island people they don’t care is only time they’re mad is when you do something wrong and then they start looking at the bill. They’ll pay it outright before that. But you know, it’s kind of the same scenario of if you talk to me but they also would do those things. People feel like they can talk to these employees a certain way and you guys deal with it as false Any AIOs overseas, right? Some people believe that, you know, other individuals in different countries can be taught differently, they have this power, they can do these types of things, because it’s not there. And it’s absolute bullshit that goes back to being a good person, treating them well. So someone’s in here, and they’re talking to my employees or cursing at them. It’s like, listen, we’re all grown men. We’re all grown individuals here. You don’t know, I mean, just treat somebody like you would on the street. Essentially, you’re not going to walk up to someone randomly and treat them, man. But going back to back by our avatars, that’s our entire strategy. Man mean, it shifted three years ago, where it was, you know, hey, let’s rank for these keywords. Let’s target this, or you know what I mean? Everything that’s inside of there, it’s still based upon who is looking, right, who’s looking for the product? What messaging do they want to see when it gets there? It goes so far above and beyond just saying, Hey, here’s a nice, pretty ad video real, put it up? Show him right? Where are they going after that? What do you want them to do? Where are they going to see it? How much are you going to charge them? Do you know what that messaging was for doesn’t match what’s there. All of those little things. If you can’t tell me who your customer base is, then I got to figure that out for you. Right, that’s a transitional time that we’re going to see the real data on. What is nice nowadays, though, too, is you know, there’s us as being a marketing company and spending a lot of money with Google and Facebook, we get access to things that others can’t write off, we can do customer matching day one for someone, I can take your whole CRM, a pendant with, luckily, we have a partner who’s one of the largest data appending houses under right underneath LexisNexis, right. So I can take your emails, and pump it into my API’s. And I can tell you every information about your buyers, correlated with big debt data to Hadoop and basically show you know, output. Here’s, here’s actually who’s buying everything for you. Most companies don’t get those abilities, right? But we do and that’s something that we use. So you know, you’ll hear someone say, hey, you know, my shoppers, a 45 year old male that has bought this, they’re in that sweet spot and discretionary income of them, it’ll end up turning out majority of the people who sign up and buy or their wives, right. So you’re not even marketing to the right, right person for the same product. It really is, you know, you take what those customers tell you, they are kind of like what you say you start understanding as they go along. And the reality of it is, it’s not who it was at the time, they think that they’re buyers that they’ve been existing for 15 years, it’s someone else and they’ve been marketing for the last 10 years to the wrong sector. Just by doing something that’s small and changing, you know, you can grow and see businesses grow their marketing, their sales or bottom line exponentially pretty quickly.

Matt DeCoursey 37:37
Isn’t it amazing? How many established businesses still don’t have one? And it’s weird, it feels like an oxymoron to say establish, but they still don’t have a firm grasp on who their target client is. Or, or, or they’re like, you know, if you look at, like, the precision nature of it, it’s just not state of the art. You know, like, it’s pretty easy for me to look at some of some people’s stuff and like, here’s your like, there’s this slice, and they’re like, there’s like four lanes on either side of that. And it’s like they’re afraid to miss.

Michael Richards 38:13
Yeah, I mean, honestly, those, those ones matter. Here’s a weird thing, right? There’s a lot of businesses in my area, and we’ve grown the sector exponentially for us. The service based industry, right, there’s electric clients now selling generators. They were doing $5 million. When they met us now they were 50. Right? It’s because they had nothing in place. They were operating on spreadsheets, literally still doing $5 million, 6 million a year routes. I mean, I couldn’t imagine having to go through the billing process that they did submitting these things, making sure they would have in house billing. You used to call in credit cards. You know, I remember Docu signs to get a credit card number back rather than just letting customers pay as they go, you know, setting up annual MMR MRR style recurring revenues, you know, there’s so much that’s still out there. I think just in business in general, you can adapt from technology and urine from software that’s being built service Titan, somebody who came in right there, killing what they do. And all they are is an easy, service based platform for somebody who’s never implemented anything, you know. So more and more as we see, I’d hope to see ERP systems become a little more adaptable, right? From a software standpoint, just for customers in general. That helps marketing as we keep trying to grow. I mean, if anything, I would tell businesses, invest in a decent CRM from day one, right? track everything, keep everything, make sure you know, every little bit of data that you have, it is so expensive, and it costs so much to get it. Do not miss a single element of it. Because in reality, at some point, you’re gonna meet someone who can correlate that and bigger sales for you. So just maintain that data for sure.

Matt DeCoursey 39:50
Well, when it comes to software, if you need to hire software engineers or testers, your leaders let Full Scale help. We have the people on the platform to help you build and manage team experts when you visit false All you need to do is answer a few simple questions, then let our platform match you up with our fully vetted, highly experienced team of software engineers, testers, and leaders. At Full Scale, we specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you. Learn more at Well, as we are running out of time, thank you for this in another stimulating conversation about digital marketing. If you’re into digital marketing, and just all things marketing, you know, we have about 1000 episodes that we’ve published on Startup Hustle, and a lot of them have been about marketing. I want to encourage you to scroll through the feed because there have been marketing and sales discussions among some of the most popular episodes we’ve had on the show. So Michael, on our way out, what’s the best advice you can give to entrepreneurs about their advertising and marketing strategy?

Michael Richards 40:54
Do you know what I mean? It’s deliberate. I think that’s everything. I kind of preach to our guys here, right? Go in with an idea. Go in with a purpose. If you can’t answer, why am I doing this? What are we? What are we trying to get out of it? And if you don’t have a definitive answer, then you’re not doing it right. You know, it may be deliberate in your advertising. And the biggest thing is always don’t get stuck on it right, don’t get paralysis by analysis, we see it all the time where it doesn’t have to be perfect. And let them see it. Let the customers dictate. They’re going to tell you what they want. Do you know what I mean? That’s, that’s the beauty of the world we’re in today. People have no issue telling you exactly what they want from everything. So you know, just be ready to pivot, be agile and deliberate.

Matt DeCoursey 41:33
You know, I think that when it comes to my marketing advice for people, it’s been the same for 15 years. And that’s a test. Just give it a try, you know, because I think that and you know, and I’m sure that the guy from the marketing firm will agree that sometimes you create these ads and these images and these campaigns and all of this, and you’re like, oh my god, this is it. This is the one, and then really, the sound that goes after it should be Wow, wow. And then sometimes it’s stuff like on this show, you know, I remember three years ago where, you know, we didn’t do a whole lot of promo or advertising, but I had one of our members of our marketing team send me back a simple thing with the Startup Hustle logo that said a podcast for entrepreneurs. And I was like, God, this is basically how I really work. It’s like getting milk. And still, three years later, I can’t. I have a very difficult time. Well, I actually haven’t. It’s never happened. I can’t find an ad that can outclass it for like more than a month. We get it’ll be hyper-specific. And it’ll be like, oh, that’s the one, and it’s killing it, and then it just dies because it just doesn’t run up.

Michael Richards 42:47
So we are actually shocked by this one, guys. We actually do billboards and things here in the south Florida area. I do a lot of traditional media on top of just what we do.

Matt DeCoursey 42:56
Work, man, people. Traffic areas.

Michael Richards 42:59
Like if you’re new on the Turnpike, where it’s out west, we have a Turnpike, but it’s like the business owners drive from Orlando to Miami all the time on this one. So it’s a great place to be at. I get people telling me they see it all the time. But all of our messaging. Years ago, we started it as just a question like needing more sales, need more leads? Need more marketing, right? All these things. It’s based on stuff. It’s like because everybody dreads buying. Go, yeah, do right. I mean, where else can I do it? Why? I mean, you only get people for such a short time now. It’s like hidden work. What? Who are you to tell me one second? You don’t get an elevator pitch. You get 35 seconds or less.

Matt DeCoursey 43:35
No one wants to roll your 38-word 10-point font, either. That’s probably where we’re where we should end. And thank you for joining me here on this podcast for entrepreneurs.

Michael Richards 43:49