Joining Joe this week is the Doogie Howser of entrepreneurs. Justin Miller started his first business when he was just 14, but now he’s all grown up and the President of Profit 911 Business Consulting. He teaches business owners what’s working now as well as what he’s learned from his own failed marketing experiments.
About Justin Miller:
Justin is a small business sales and marketing automation specialist. He is also an Infusionsoft certified partner and helps business owners get more customers and sales by implementing marketing systems in their companies.
An entrepreneur his entire life, Justin started his first “real” company as a mobile DJ in 1996 at the age of 14. This company is still in operation (though Justin sold it in 2017) and has since spun off several other companies and services.
Justin is the president of Profit 911 Business Consulting. He teaches other business owners what is currently working as well as what he has learned from tens of thousands of dollars in failed marketing experiments. Justin’s goal is to help others overcome their unique business challenges so that they can grow their business and enjoy more income and more free time.
He has appeared on dozens of TV and radio stations including affiliates of NBC, FOX, and CBS. He travels and speaks for groups both large and small around the county and internationally presenting both keynotes and workshops. He writes for multiple international publications.
Justin Miller - Magnetic Marketing
Joe Pardavila: This is Dan Kennedy's Magnetic Marketing podcast. You'll meet folks that are using the Magnetic Marketing principles to take control of their advertising and marketing dollars. I'm Joe Pardavila. Let's do this.
Joining me today is the Doogie Howser of entrepreneurs. And if you don't get that reference, ask your parents.
Justin Miller started his first business when he was just 14. But now he's all grown up and the president of Profit 911 Business Consulting. He teaches business owners what's working now, as well as what he's learned from his own failed marketing experiments. Hey there, Justin, how are you?
Justin Miller: I'm doing awesome. How are you, Joe?
Joe Pardavila: I'm doing great. And I love your backstory because it sounds like you've been an entrepreneur for the majority of your life. Like basically you came out of the womb as an entrepreneur, is that correct?
Justin Miller: It must be. If I think about the very first time I was trying to make money.
I put on like magic shows in my grandma's basement and I found some tickets recently to those. We had a pinball machine growing up, I figured out very quickly how to make that actually accept money again. So yeah, it's built-in.
Joe Pardavila: Do you come from a family of entrepreneurs? How did you catch that bug?
Justin Miller: No, not at all.
No, my father is a middle manager for a large corporation. I'm not sure where it came from. At some point, I decided that money must've run the world. And if I wanted things, I had to find a way to make the money, to get them.
Joe Pardavila: And so being an entrepreneur, the marketing plays a big part of it, although I think sometimes entrepreneurs miss out on that fact, how important marketing of their product or service is.
So how did you become actively interested in the marketing of your businesses?
Justin Miller: Yeah, so that was actually a massive shift for me. So I always was chasing money and figuring out ways to get it and providing good services. I started my first, what I call the real company when I was 14 as a mobile DJ and ran that for the better part of two decades.
But there was a distinct shift at one point. And that's when I was sitting in a seminar in Orlando, Florida, it was a DoubleTree Universal. I still remember this. And there was a speaker on stage that came out of the Dan Kennedy world. His name is Dave Dee. He was a magician at the time turned info marketer.
And he kept mentioning Dan, but he was talking about marketing. We were at a disc jockey conference and the guy's up there talking about marketing and something in the back of my head told me, you know what this is what I'm missing. If I really want to grow this as a legitimate business, I need to learn more about what this guy is talking about.
They've extracted some money from my pocket. I bought his program, heard him mention Dan Kennedy many times over the year, and started buying Dan's programs. And that was definitely an inflection point in where I was going, what I was doing. And ultimately what all my companies were all about from that point forward.
Joe Pardavila: Wow. And how immediate did you find that your business began to flourish because you decided to take an active interest in the marketing of it?
Justin Miller: Yeah, so it's a psychological change, but it was immediate. I won't say that I was rich overnight or anything, but I saw the traction right away. So I started implementing things, learned a little bit about copywriting, learned a little bit about the placement of ads, postcard marketing, and just took bits and pieces and put them in play and got a little bit of return, put $1 out there, made $1.50, repeat, repeat, repeat.
And there was an ROI on almost everything. It was slow. It was the get-rich slow plan. But yeah, immediately I saw results and that made me dive deeper and deeper. Way off into all kinds of tangents and wormholes of marketing, but definitely down the mainstream marketing as well.
Joe Pardavila: It is amazing how people in that mobile DJ business, and I'm sure maybe you've seen it as well as a grasp of marketing. Because I'm old enough to remember that DJs used to be hired from word of mouth.
Oh yeah, I remember this guy, he was at Sue and Bob's wedding. He was a really good DJ. And now all of a sudden you're seeing DJs on literal billboards. So have you noticed that big shift in terms of maybe people competing in that space grasping marketing as well as you were at the same time?
Justin Miller: Yeah, so I think maybe not at the same time, I think I was still a little ahead of the curve and that really helped us.
But overall it's a cottage industry. A lot of people it's part-time, side income, but that being said at this point, they really have to have their stuff together and they do have to understand all the marketing things that I put in play for much larger companies. Everyone's getting smarter.
Information is available everywhere and people are putting it into play at all levels. So even in the most cottage fragmented industries, people playing in them are becoming very aware and you'll find marketers in every single field that are implementing. And you can spot them by the way, when you are a marketer yourself.
But almost always, I think that puts them at an advantage and accelerates their growth.
Joe Pardavila: That's awesome. And when you were down this wormhole of marketing, do you remember what was like the first Dan Kennedy product you picked up?
Justin Miller: Yeah. So the first thing by Dan himself, a product would have been Magnetic Marketing, but I can remember books.
So even before I could drive. So before I was 16 years old I was going into Kinko's at the time, getting business cards printed up and I do remember buying The Ultimate Sales Letter off the rack there, and then The Ultimate Marketing Machine, and following the kind of the formulas he lays out in those books and products and putting them into play into my mobile DJ business, which was primarily high-end weddings.
So this was a really interesting thing to put crabby Dan's in your face, direct response marketing into something that is one of the highest emotional sales I think there is, which is the high-end weddings. And it worked.
Joe Pardavila: One thing that's interesting about the disciples of Dan Kennedy is the fact that the actual structure of doing the follow-ups, doing the newsletter, the copywriting, a lot of that seems to be easy for a lot of the Members to digest.
It's more of the mindset shift of being able to say, hey, you have to tell people how good you are. Were you able to grasp the mindset shift right away? Or was that something you had to learn over time?
Justin Miller: Yeah, so I think I understood it logically. But despite the fact that I was a mobile DJ and on the microphone, I'm not like an in your face type of personality. If I was in a room of 200 people and not being paid to lead that room, you wouldn't know who I was. But when it came to marketing and what I had to do to get my name out there, I did it, I followed the formula and did it, and it worked. I did it as congruently as I could with my personality.
So we have to exaggerate, we had to make it more interesting than it is. It's kinda like Facebook, everyone's life on there is a lot more interesting looking than it really is. I figured out how to do that in marketing enough and make myself a celebrity to the people that mattered in that industry. And that worked really well and it's still jived with my authentic personality.
Joe Pardavila: It is funny how people have such a tough time with that facet of it. You think something like, hey, it's okay to tell people, but it's almost like the tall poppy syndrome that people in the UK experience all the time.
You're not allowed to say how good you are, but here in the States, we encourage it a little more, but at the same time, I think there's some people like yourself and a lot of people, a lot of entrepreneurs, who find that step, one of the toughest to succeed in the whole world.
Justin Miller: Yeah. I think I'm a very analytical person, so I found ways to make the argument without having to blatantly state it. I wrote a book for weddings. My book was The Secret to Making Your Wedding Reception Fun, Memorable & Stress-Free! Put my picture really big on the thing, that gets some of the points across. We literally had a book in our lobby with 300 pages of testimonials and framed thank you letters everywhere.
So I let others make the argument for me as best as possible. But you still have to be smart enough to gather that proof and put it out there.
Joe Pardavila: Interesting. And so let's talk about how you evolved because you're this mobile DJ company to high-end weddings, you've done major deep dives into marketing.
I guess just from speaking to you, Justin, you've become obsessed with learning to be a better marketer, and then you decide to even branch out and you write a book, right?
Justin Miller: Yeah I wrote several books.
Joe Pardavila: Like how did you make that jump? Because just so you know, Justin, I don't know a lot of mobile DJs who've written books.
Justin Miller: Yeah. There's not, I think I licensed the mind to a few and they were smart. No, I wrote the book because I was told to write the book at the Dan Kennedy conferences I was going to. I'm good at following directions. So I'm not really an inventor either. But I can follow the formula when it's put out there.
It was just my interest to do the marketing and over the years and even decades my interest in being a mobile DJ waned. And I took myself out of the performance side of it and it's just stuck to the office backend side and business and marketing. A few years before I sold that company I didn't go in "the field" at all.
I was just managing people and marketing and processes and making sure the company grew as a company without me being the end all be all of everything. So that was the shift. It was really an interesting shift and a personal choice, more than anything. And then at one point, there were a few stars that aligned that told me it was time to get out.
This was pre-COVID by the way. Everyone's been forced into that decision now. It told me it's time to get out. And I sold the company and I had already had a part-time marketing business, Profit 911 Business Consulting for a while. Made the jump to a full-time operation and that's what I continue to do today.
Joe Pardavila: Awesome. Let's talk about Profit 911. It is a business consulting company. And you mentioned you were doing that sort of a parallel to your mobile DJ business. So what do you guys do? What's it all about?
Justin Miller: Yeah. So we are an online and offline company, which is a bit unique. We started as your digital marketing company, your tech geeks.
I played in the Infusionsoft and marketing automation space, basically implementing things I had learned and done in my own business for others. And we very quickly branched out into offline as well. So if you were to set foot in the Profit 911 offices today, you would find people that are doing digital follow-up and your traditional digital marketing funnels.
You would also right below where I'm sitting today find several thousand square feet of print production and direct mail processing. So that's a bit strange in the marketing agency world. But it follows kind of Dan Kennedy's teachings to the core and allows people to come in one place and get all these things cohesively together without having to be the glue themselves that holds it all together.
Joe Pardavila: And so how did you meld those two outlets? The online and offline? Because I think nowadays people are incredibly hyper-focused on just everything's online. Everything's social, everything is email. So how do you convince clients or even tell them, hey, listen, online is super important, but offline is just as important?
Justin Miller: Yeah. Yeah. I always lay it out in the simplest form. It's a classic scenario of one plus one is three. So having multiple media follow-up building upon each other, building the brand, building the message, building the offer, or whatever the case for the specific objective is, really makes people more legitimate than just digital.
So anyone can go online and do a digital ad. And you see all kinds of them in front of you. Anyone actually could mail a letter or postcard too, but they don't, as it requires real effort and actual money for postage. They think everything online is free, to an extent it is to an extent it's not.
So a lot of people leave that out and I had seen success with that myself. So even way back in the DJ business, we did postcard drops every single month to the list we had built. And we were very successful doing that. We were the absolute only company in our market doing that. And we had a great return from that.
So I'm preaching what I had practiced and anyone that's dug into the Dan Kennedy world, they don't need to be sold on offline, they just need to be sold on how they can get it done effectively and profitably.
Joe Pardavila: And so with these two different assets of your company, the online and offline, are you the one-stop-shop kind of guy?
Or do you have people who specialize online or people who specialize offline? Tell me about the structure.
Justin Miller: Yeah. So internally different people have different hats, so some are online, some are offline, some are just physical production around here.
We also have contractors around the States and around the world to fill in specific gaps for knowledge, like if you need an expert in a specific industry for a specific type of online ad, we may or may not have that in-house, but we likely have a connection for you. So we tend to be the project manager for our clients in bringing everything together they need and keeping their hands off as much as they want them off.
While allowing them control over what goes out the door.
Joe Pardavila: Cool. And as a marketing expert now, because Justin, you have to say that you're a marketing expert according to Dan.
Justin Miller: We got the book on that too.
Joe Pardavila: That it's important to have a story, and to tell people your story. So are there any of your clients’ members, whatever you call him that gave you a huge, happy ending that you're able to sell to future prospects?
Justin Miller: Oh yeah. We have several. The most interesting stories right now, though, we're recording this right after the flip of the year into 2021. Everyone's undergone change last year to one extent or another. And we have clients that we've been serving, some doctors come to mind that were doing seminar marketing.
Guess what, no one wanted to get in a room anymore. So we helped them navigate the shift through to other media, direct mail, email follow-up. Not going to name-drop them per se, but we have several cases like that where last year was actually a record year for our business. And that's because we were able to serve so many people that I don't want to say we're hurting, but have been forced into change.
I think 2020 was an accelerator for marketing necessity. I think a lot of companies that were just humming along, got slapped. And maybe they had things they knew they needed to do and were successful enough that they were able to ignore them. I don't think that's necessarily the case, they can't do that anymore and still achieve the same success they did.
And those are the ones that were really helping. That's what we're focusing our efforts on right now. And we're making sure that if they had a dip in revenue or net, they aren't hanging out there as long as they would have to on their own.
Joe Pardavila: It is interesting that for you guys and everyone in the marketing space if you read any entrepreneurial book that talks about hard times, recessions, crashes, they always tell the entrepreneur, the last thing you should do is stop marketing or spending less money marketing.
So in a way that helps you guys because people know, especially if they're smart businessmen, the last thing I need to cut, I can cut the Keurig machine, but I can't cut marketing.
Justin Miller: Yeah. And again, they know that logically and I have as well. It's very hard to still do, even if that's the right course of action.
It's very hard to do because it's easy to cut marketing and it's not an immediate drop. You're starting to hurt yourself longer-term but yeah, sometimes just having another sound mind, that's not tied to the success of your business to bounce those ideas off of is of value too. So we play an advisor role for a lot of clients as well.
But you are right. That's likely why we had the uptick. A lot of people saw an opportunity, or they knew that there was a chance to get market share. It's why our business increased, frankly, everyone was looking again, there was a large rush for help and assistance, and the curve was accelerated by several years.
I think people were ignoring it, maybe the digital side realized I'm screwed now without it, I need to get over there. So we helped a lot of people, and I don't know if I'd repeat 2020. Yes. We had a record year and we're on the right trajectory here, but I don't want to act as it came easy, because it was chaos.
It continues to be chaos. We're in the midst of it, with our clients. So we understand what they're going through.
Joe Pardavila: You mentioned the word accelerated, what COVID did, and in a way, it was an accelerant in pretty much every facet of digital life. You look at the work-from-home scenario that's happening.
Work from home could destroy commercial real estate in the next 10 years because these companies are noticing that they're still able to excel without having to spend $50,000 to $100,000 on office space. You know what I mean, every month. So what do you see in terms of this accelerant?
Do you see it being the status quo now that people were like, hey, listen, I can't take my foot off the pedal when it comes to digital and offline marketing?
Justin Miller: So as far as the digital side goes, it's become more competitive. It's become more necessary than ever before. I don't think that's going away. There are going to be new tactics.
There are going to be new con artists in the game. So the digital space, in particular, agencies have a reputation for a lot of people just stealing money. There's going to be more of that. So if this is new to you going in that space do your homework. I foresee most of this sticking around.
I don't think there are any major changes coming in the next six, eight months, as far as the importance of digital, there's going to be a lot of change for sure, for better or worse. But I think everyone was forced to leap forward two or three years. We had outstanding project bids from two, three years ago.
I want to say that 90% of those people that we had declared dead sales during this COVID in 2020 called back, asking about moving forward on these projects, because there were things that we’re preaching and they knew they needed to do and the importance, just leapfrogged to the front of the gate, which put us in a capacity situation.
But we're digging out of that a little bit.
Joe Pardavila: How did you deal with those dead leads when that did happen? Did you decide to reach out to some of those be like, hey, by the way, there's this pandemic, you may want to do some digital marketing or how did that come around?
Justin Miller: So everyone stayed a passive follow-up.
So if they're dead leads they're not getting attention from me per se anymore, but we're an automation shop as well. So they're still getting emails from me. They're getting newsletters in the mail. They're getting all the things that we preach, and Dan preaches. So they never quite disappear from our world per se.
I am not going to say they went back into active follow-up, that is not the case at all. They just pop their heads back up, which is actually the way the marketing, Magnetic Marketing, in particular, supposed to work. You put the message out there and then the right prospects raise their hand and then you focus efforts on them.
And that was definitely the case here. We were almost doing lead triage with who we could actually work with and perform well with those constraints we had internally. We didn't prepare for a massive increase year over year in the midst of a pandemic where I've got three kids at home, no one can prepare for that.
But the system that was there allowed communication. So evergreen marketing, automated marketing stayed in place. People that don't have that in place are missing one of the keys here for sure. And that's going to continue to be important. Offline marketing though also changed. I don't know if you noticed that or paid attention to it.
Joe Pardavila: In what way?
Justin Miller: So mailboxes were empty during 2020. This is a trend. It's not a new trend, but I noticed a lot less mail than even typical. So we took the opportunity to keep the direct mail flowing out. And we've had several clients that upped their direct mail budgets to get in front of people, stay in front of people, and land in their life physically.
So the rest of the world went digital. We were forced to go digital with our relationships, even. Getting something in the mail, always meant something. It means even more right now than it ever has.
Joe Pardavila: You mentioned that you signed up for Magnetic Marketing, and part of the Magnetic Marketing course is all about retention of those clients.
So take me back to sort of like the beginning of the pandemic, March 2020. Was that one of your concerns, was the retention of clients? Because at that point people were like, Oh my God, the bottom's falling out. I'm not going to get any new members, but can I keep my old members? Was that one of your major concerns at the beginning?
Justin Miller: Oh, absolutely. And that's actively what we're doing in house is making sure that we can serve and support those that are already paying us. We're advising our clients to do the same, by the way. So the current client always has more importance to us, and we definitely had those conversations with staff.
We had meetings and went through client by client. Okay, who's going to get hit by this? How can we help them? How can we continue to serve them as well? But how can we help them to get value from our services? The bottom line is how can we provide an ROI for them more than they're paying us so that we don't go under?
And we were able to do that. I'm trying to think if we had, I don't think we really had an Exodus at all out the door.
Joe Pardavila: That's awesome. So your retention rate was pretty close to a hundred percent?
Justin Miller: Yeah.
Joe Pardavila: That's awesome.
Justin Miller: We didn't have anyone kicking and screaming out the door. We definitely had clients that were impacted in a negative manner.
Absolutely. But what we were providing for them, it's kind of part and parcel to their business and they understand everything we're doing is really a long-term game. I probably said it before, but it comes up all the time. The get-rich slow plan. What can we build that's actually going to stick around? And that's always the way we've looked at things.
We try and stay away from shiny objects. And that means everything we were doing prior to the pandemic is still valuable during and ultimately after.
Joe Pardavila: Yeah. Tell me about that. You've mentioned that in some of your written work is the marketing shiny object syndrome. What exactly is that?
Justin Miller: Yeah. So the way this bumps its head up for us as a marketing agency is when someone's new and comes to us with a kind of a mandate of tactic.
So I want to run a pay-per-click Google ad for this. And when we dug into that, they attended a seminar or something that sold that as the solution. So a lot of times we have people coming to us for marketing tactics, I want to send SMS marketing. Great. Immediately what we do is back them up and ask 10 questions to figure out how they came to that conclusion. Because what we do is strategic marketing. We start with the strategy and then we understand there are hundreds of tools and there's more by the day in the marketing landscape, everyone has some sort of new software whizzbang thing they can sell you.
That's the greatest thing ever. And we try really hard to stay away from those as an early conversation point. Now, ultimately after we build the strategy and the objective, we get down to the tactic and the tool to make it happen. But yeah, there's not a week that goes by that someone doesn't have a backward and comes to us with some sort of tactic they want to implement without understanding the larger picture of how that fits into their business or if it does.
Joe Pardavila: And tell me just a little insight on that. Obviously, with your years of experience, how do you handle a client like that who comes in like, I want to do the text messaging campaign for my company.
And you're like, no, wait. Like how do you massage that I guess is probably the best word?
Justin Miller: Usually questioning allows them to come to the conclusion themselves. And if they don't come to that conclusion, no worries. There's plenty of people that'll be happy to take that money to do exactly as they say.
We're fortunate enough that we don't necessarily just take orders if we don't agree with them. If you're a long-term client, we'll question, we'll give our feedback. And ultimately at the end of the day, you still have the say. If you're a new person coming in like that, and I don't see an ROI for you.
You're probably just not going to be our client. I had one of those phone calls, like two days ago from a local business owner. We don't do a lot of local business actually. But she was a psychic new to the area and she wanted to run a Google ad campaign, which not a bad idea, but when we dug into the math and everything, there was just no way on earth this was going to be profitable for what she wanted to sell.
Another example is we had someone call in that they had a die-cast truck, like a commemorative truck. I won't say exactly what it was for, because I wish them luck and maybe they will make it big.
But I think they'd been watching too many infomercials because they wanted to sell this truck for a hundred dollars or something and sell it via TV advertising. And they thought that was the tactic and they didn't understand that everything they see on TV is built upon selling more stuff to the same client and they don't have more stuff to sell to the client.
Joe Pardavila: They just got the truck.
Justin Miller: Yeah. So when we understand the strategies behind the tactics, so in this case, infomercial, we understand that this was not a good fit, but this person came in with a tactic they wanted. As far as I know, they're still going down that road and they're going to find someone that'll be happy to take their money as long as the checks clear.
But we've given them the knowledge to try and filter that out. And ultimately if we didn't work with them.
Joe Pardavila: And Justin, I'm curious, it seems like just speaking with you for a few moments is, you don't sound like you're just going to take people's money just for the sake of the sale.
When did that click into your head, that the money wasn't worth the aggravation, or wasn't worth it to the actual customer in this case? Was that something that you picked up on early on? Was that something you had to learn from the school of hard knocks?
Justin Miller: Yeah. I don't think there was anything that clicked.
I think that's just innate, in my nature. It's not worth the headache. It's not worth the hassle. The money is going to be a bigger problem in the end anyway. Every once in a while you do something that you probably shouldn't have and it backfires and you relearn the lesson you already knew, for sure.
But yeah, no, I think that it was just born into me. Especially in this Dan Kennedy world, the Magnetic Marketing world, the NO BS world. This is a close-knit community. Word gets around really quick, whether you serve your customers well or not. So it's definitely not worth the risk for us to do something that we don't think it's going to produce results.
Or have a good chance of it, anyway.
Joe Pardavila: That's awesome. His name is Justin Miller. He is the president of Profit 911 Business Consulting. Justin, if people want to get a hold of you, what's the best way to reach you guys?
Joe Pardavila: Justin, thank you very much for the time, and good luck in 2021.
Justin Miller: Thanks, Joe.
Joe Pardavila: Join us for our Mid Year event, where we'll teach you how to create The Ultimate Sales Letter and The Ultimate Marketing Plan live with Dan Kennedy and other speakers in Cleveland, Ohio, June 7th - 9th, in-person and virtual seats are available.
Head to MagneticMarketing.com/ultimateevent to secure your seat now.