661: 3 Marketing Tactics to Go from Struggling Startup to the Inc. 500 List w/ Marc Fischer

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Marc Fischer, CEO of Dogtown Media.

Click here to connect with this guest on LinkedIn.

Wouldn't it be nice to have several fault leaders in your industry know and Love Your brand? Start a podcast, invite your industries thought leaders to be guests on your show and start reaping the benefits of having a network full of industry influencers. Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to the BE TOB growth show, podcast dedicated to helping be to be executives achieve explosive growth. What you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources? You've come to the right place. I'm Jonathan Green and I'm James Carberry. Let's get it into the show. Welcome back to the BB growth show. We are here today with Mark Fisher. He is the CEO of Dogtown medium. Mark. How you doing today? Right, thanks for having me on, James. Stoked to chat with you today. Mark. We're going to be talking about something that is very near and dear to me and it's something that I've actually been hearing a lot from listeners. Just this idea of, you know, kind of being in the pit and and not being the quote Unquote Success Story and struggling and kind of being in the mock and mire of start up life when you're hearing all of the success stories of everybody that's crushing it and growing three hundred percent. That I'm excited because you're going to share actually a lot of the story of Dogtown's early days before you guys, you know, experience the explosive growth that you've since experienced. And and there were three specific things that you guys did kind of in those really hard years that that, according to you, kind of mapped to the success that you guys are seeing now. But before we get into that, I'd love for our audience just to have a little bit more context around dogtown media and what you and your team are up to over there. Great. So I found it. I co founded dogtown media in two thousand and eleven and we are a mobile technology studio...

...based in Venice beach with a global reach and an innovation center in Montevideo, Uruguay, all places. And we started from humble beginnings. Is Two guys on a couch dreaming of that ideas. Now a team of forty and what we do is take ideas and turn them into impactful digital products and we work with a lot of exciting companies like Google, City Bank and the United Nations. As such, our expertise is in robotics, Internet of things technologies and wearable devices for medical health and helping people get better medical care, as resolved by bringing all these things in the real world to life to basically monitor your vitals and real time and give information to a doctor remotely so you don't have to go in for a visit. Of Awesome. So so let's go back to these first three years of Dogtown. You know, you guys, we were struggling to monetize the APPS that you guys had built, and you take us back to that kind of season of the business and just kind of set the stage so that we can dig into that, that piece of it a little bit more. Absolutely so. We started from humble beginnings and it was just my cofounder and myself. He's a techy and I was a self taught designer and product manager, and we had ideas for APPS, but we really didn't know what the market place had in store for us back then. When we got started, it was kind of like the wild west and we were just throwing darts to the Dartboard, thinking of great ideas to bring to market and then to market them and run with them. Now. Our first APP that we put out came about four and a half months after we founded the company and were working nights and weekends at our day jobs in our respective companies...

...to bring the idea to life. And the first APP we ever launched into the market place was called Dog Boogie, which was kind of an instagram experience for dog owners, and what made it unique is that we built a soundboard into the APP to allow the user to activate the camera and have their phone bark, me, our going or or oink to get their dogs attention. I yeah, it was super cool. It was well received by the the community. We got tens of thousands of downloads in the first couple months and a lot of positive press and good Juju and the the tech community and it was a success from the standpoint that people were engaging with the APP, they were using it, they were giving us great feedback, but it was very difficult to monetize, especially a social APP that didn't yet have the mechanisms that we have today for facebook, instagram and others. A BIG AD networks or data to be a driving force and monetization. So we started teaming up with a couple other folks and codeveloping and Co branding APPs of different sorts for the health and wellness space and they were making a minimal amount of money, but it was very difficult to kind of keep that the lights on and to build a team out as a result. So, if the first three years were definitely a struggle, I've talked to a lot of founders with a with a similar story that. You know, it's you're trying to figure out what your niche is, you're trying to figure out the market that you should be going after. Just so much that you're trying to figure out in those in those first few years. But the part that I love about your stories, you guys, I mean you stuck it out for three years. So so few people are willing to stick it out that long. And after that three year...

...mark, you know, there were, as we're talking offline, you said that there were three things that you guys had started doing kind of during that three year window that really started to pay off starting, you know, after that three year mark. You know, you guys have since gone on. You're now, you know, on the ink five hundred this year. Your number two hundred and seventy one on that list. You've got on to achieve incredible growth. But I want to talk about these three marketing avenues that you guys leveraged to really catapult you guys to to that growth after that three year stretch of struggle. You mentioned that the first thing you guys did was was really around personal branding. In your community, you guys, you and your cofounder, were known as the APP guys. Can you talk to us a little bit about that? Absolutely so, even though we weren't making money, everybody thought that we were the most successful guys in the world and I was driving a twelve year old car at the time and we were renting desks at a co working space. Yet everybody was coming out of the woodworks asking us to listen to their APP idea, pitching us to to build something for them or with them, sometimes as an equity place, sometimes they would pay us for, you know, our services. But it started to kind of snowball and we became more and more warmed the idea of pivoting into a mobile technology studio model versus the startup that we were formally, and it worked really well because we just sat back and everybody we knew, aunt's, uncle's, friends, distance relatives, friends of friends would start referring US business and the phone calls and the knowledge base and bar tool set through as a result pretty quickly. I'm really ashamed to admit this, but we went the first three years...

...of our business without having a single case study. I know, pretty ridiculous. So I finally broke down and had cap ninety nine create a couple case studies for us. We sent them some examples of other case studies that we really liked. Then we sent them the stories and the results that we wanted to include. After a few rounds of revisions, we now have two beautifully designed case studies that we send to pretty much every one of our prospects. When you sign up with Cap Ninety nine, you get unlimited graphic design and unlimited revisions for just three hundred nine nine bucks a month. Head over to beb growth showcom slash design and try out their fifteen day free trial. That's to be growth showcom design. Let's see back to this interview. So by brain by really establishing that brand, there is a lot of inbound coming year way, and that was just really hyper local. Obviously. So being known as the APP guys in your kind of friends circles. But then you guys also did something else which I think is interested in. You started holding meetups in the area. Talk to us about about the thought there and care of what was the strategy behind that? So we started the company in two thousand and eleven, when APP world was the wild west. We started in Venice Beach, which is the heart of Silicon Beach, and back then, just seven short years ago, the startup community didn't even resemble what it is today. Most people were working in, you know, tunancies or something insurance or, you know, stable corporate jobs, and all of a sudden the the mobile revolution started a bum rush of folks that had APP ideas wanted to start their own startups. It had never been easier, cheaper or more fun to put a team together, to come up with an idea and then to bring it to market. And we wanted to share our experiences and our knowledge and especially the story of our failures with other folks in the community to kind of...

...creates a sustainable startup community here in La and it started with just a story of how to, how we marketed our APP and everything that we did wrong, and it kind of a story of like a heroes journey on how we made every bad decision and tested things until we finally found the magic bullet, and that attracted about forty five folks to that first meet up and as a result, one of the the guys that was attending our meet up actually referred to US business and that's how we scored a first client. Love it. I love it, and so we're kind of branding yourselves as the APP guys holding these meet ups. This is something I've been starting to do recently with linkedin local we're starting to do it with BB growth from organizing dinners and different parts of the country, and I'm already seeing the the the fruits of that come in. A third thing, the Third Marketing Avenue that you guys really focused on kind of in that three years of you know, of hard times in the in the early days, was Seo. Can you talk to us about what you did from an SEO perspective? That really going to help catapult you guys to becoming what you are today? So in my past lifetime I had founded a small Nidge digital agency focused on helping kind of the gilded type of companies attain their marketing objective. So I was working with a lot of accountancies, law firms, midsize law firms and small meetium sized medical centers to help these professionals get more impact in their communities and generate more in bounded leaves. And, as a byproduct, I absorbed all of that knowledge around how to build a website that is easily found online for the search keywords that we...

...were focused on and I launched our website and put some Messio love into it and as a result, we were ranked very highly for something like a hundred and eighty five keywords in the top three Google rankings. Those were just short, short tail type of keywords, and folk started to find us and then contact US morning, noon and night from around the globe. People in Hong Kong to Kuwait, to London to right around the corner in Santa Monica where pounding on our door to tell us about their APP ID and try to bring it to life. Do you do you think that that strategy would be as effective today, now that you know? Obviously you know it's it's much later in the game. There are a lot of see has a much more crowded space now. Would you advocate for for young companies to deploy that now? Or is there something that you think would be more effective than SEO Today? So Seo is in investment and it's a kind of it's half magic, half science in order to optimize your your site and to to create inbound links that will lead people to your site and therefore get crawled by Google and show credibility and authority in the search engine Web crawlers eyes. I would definitely invest time, effort and maintenance and building out an SEO strategy, but there's also a lot to be said about the shotgun approach of getting out there, meeting the people that you want to be doing business with, holding webinars, holding meetups, going to meet ups, and also utilizing some of the other past to success, such as business directory listings where companies like your own may be listed...

...and make sure you're in the the top rankings they're doing. Doing things like optimizing your social presence and your presence on Linkedin so that you show up as professional and credible and an authority in your particular profession, is really important. So it's all about being found and then, when you are found, showing up like the professional that you are, so the people and still trust in you when they haven't met you yet. Mark, this has been at this has been great. So that just to kind of boil down, those the the three and marketing avenues that you guys leverage to go from, you know, two guys broke on a couch to being number two hundred and seventy one on the ink five hundred list. You guys established your personal brand, you became known as the APP guys, you started holding meetups locally. Through that you started getting referrals to clients and wall simultaneously, just continuing to reaffirm kind of your personal brands as the APP guys in in that area. And then you focused on Seo and ranking for specific keywords. That drove targeted traffic to your site. Mark, if there's somebody listening to this, they want to stay connected with you, they want to learn more about Dogtown, maybe they've they want to work with you guys in some in some way, shape or form. What's the best way for them to go about doing both of those things? Absolutely the best way of getting in touch of courses through our website, that Dogtown Mediacom also finding us on social at Dogtown Mediu, on twitter and facebook and Instagram, and then connecting with us on Linkedin. If you just search dogtown media will come up front and center. Can also get in contact with me at any time. My emails market dogtown media and our company email addresses contact the dogtown media and we're always open door policy, looking for right business founders to talk with and big business owners to consult them on how...

...to bring their vision to life and get the most impact in the market place and bring their mobile strategy to the palm of your hand and moons of other people like you want to full mark, will thank you so much for your time today. This has been incredible, so I really appreciate it absolutely. Thanks so much. Names there are lots of ways to build a community and we've chosen to build the be tob growth community through this podcast. But because of the way podcasts work, it's really hard to engage with our listeners and without engagement it's tough to build a great community. So here's what we've decided to do. We're organizing small dinners across the country with our listeners and guests. No sales pitches, no agenda, just great conversations with like minded people. Will Talk Business, we'll talk family, will talk goals, and dreams will build friendships. So if you'd like to be a part of a BEDB growth dinner in a city near you, go to be to be growth dinnerscom. That's be toob growth dinnerscom. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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