Ross Tudor of Hot Corner Digital talks about how he broke into digital marketing and has been gaining traction as an entrepreneur. He talks about the tools he uses, how he helps his clients plan for an influx of new leads, and how he is able to land more clients. This episode is jam-packed with value!
Ross’s Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosstudor
If you want to check out the video, here you go:
Here’s the full transcript:
Ryan Shank: 00:00 Yeah. All right guys. Welcome back. This is episode eight. We got a of a, of growing your agency. Super excited today. We have Ross tutor from hot corner digital. Ross, thank you so much for joining us. You’re welcome man. Thanks so much for having me on. Yeah, absolutely. Super excited for this one today. Uh, we’ve been working with you for a what for a few months now, but I’m curious what we’re going to do today is just pick your brain on what you’re doing with your agency. Uh, we’re going to dive into some tactical questions, how you’re charging clients, you know, what tools you’re using. And this isn’t a plug for phone wagon, uh, just curious to learn, you know, and kind of pick, pick your brain. So first before we kinda dive into all that, how did you get into this? Um, you know, a lot of, lot of times people, you know, we’re working at agencies. How’d you get into it? How’d you start your own agency?
Ross Tudor: 00:47 Yeah, it’s exactly that. So I was at another agency here in Richmond, Virginia for five years. Um, from 2012, I guess I’m a little 2017, went out of my own, um, about a year ago. Um, and I flooding and I, yeah, we work together. Uh, one other guy that was at our agency, Steven, um, two of us briefly went out to in house jobs. Um, like them. Okay. And then immediately though, within a couple of months we’re like, man, we kind of missed the agency world and started taking on some freelance projects here and there, just doing a little bit. And then slowly that part time side hustle turned into one thing we were more passionate about and to something that seemed like sustainable full time job. So we went for it.
Ryan Shank: 01:28 That’s awesome. And I’m always curious, how did you acquire your first, let’s call it first customer and then first few customers?
Ross Tudor: 01:35 Yeah, so the first customer was just a friend of a friend. It was actually at his company that is called pet movers. They move your pet’s across the country if you’re, if you’re actually moving or if you’re going across the country for a trip or whatever else. They arrange all that. Um, and so it was a friend who had done that. He had moved to another country and use this agency or use this company and saw they had some kind of subpar digital marketing going on and connected us.
Ryan Shank: 01:59 Awesome. And then so how are you acquiring customers now? Cause I know that, you know, obviously it’s great, you know, your first couple ones, friends of friends, I, we say, you know, the barrier to entry for digital marketing relatively low, but then to actually sustain it like you have for over a year, you know, and one key, keep crying and to continually add new clients. Uh, pretty difficult. How are you adding clients now?
Ross Tudor: 02:21 Yeah, so it’s very much a, when we first started, I guess last summer we were hitting up work really, really hard. We were on there.
Ryan Shank: 02:28 Almost every single person that I’ve talked to so far on this podcast and just in general are acquire customers through upwork, which is awesome.
Ross Tudor: 02:36 Yeah. So that was a good way for us to get a predictable source of opportunities. At least the ones that we got were got to be pretty selective about it. And we can tell pretty early on based on the description like this is going to be a good fit. This is not, these people want Charlesworth from project as opposed to these people might be interested in, you know, an actual relationship. So we hit that hustle hard man. Like I was on their applying to as many jobs as I could and we were upgrading our count as often as we could to get more like application tokens are they called it. Yeah. And from those we were able to establish some really good partnerships with actually other agencies. Um, you know, traditional agencies or other digital agencies that didn’t have a specialty in what we did, paid search, paid digital marketing, that kind of thing. And so we establish those partnerships, both with the people we were met on up upwork, but also with people I knew here locally, um, that had that need and just wanted to outsource for their existing clients, outsource, you know, kind of a niche that we do.
Ryan Shank: 03:32 Got It. So basically like a larger agency that does more like brand design, then they get a client that wants, you know, some, some PPC or something like paid ads to be managed. You guys and I can white label the services for those guys.
Ross Tudor: 03:43 Sometimes white label a even better situations or when they just introduce us as digital and it’s bringing us to the table, that’s even better. Uh, but definitely some people are more comfortable with the white label arrangement and that’s fine too.
Ryan Shank: 03:54 Awesome. Awesome. Um, so to going right into, right into the next question, how do you charge and not necessarily what are your prices but more, are you retainer, are you percentage of ad spend? Like, like what does, what does that look like? Cause I’m always curious. You know what I’m talking to people I like a lot of people wonder how other agencies are charging. So curious about that.
Ross Tudor: 04:14 Yeah, we are 100% retainer based. My thought process has always been, and you know, my first boss in this industry kind of sold it to me this way. If we charged a percentage of ad spend, we’re always going to be at least a little bit incentivized to make you spend more, even if that’s not the best business decision for you, 100% to avoid that kind of conflict of interest will always just charge a flat monthly management fee. Now obviously that can scale up and down if we’re adding on Facebook for riding on landing pages, things like that. So we do have the opportunity to scale accounts, but not just by recommending people spend more.
Ryan Shank: 04:48 Does, does the fee those scale, like if I spent 500 bucks a month on Google ads or if I spent 10 [inaudible], like is the retainer the same?
Ross Tudor: 04:56 Yeah, that’s a good question. Um, and some of that comes down to us doing a good job during the sales process of identifying, you know, the complexity of the account. And so generally speaking, a $10,000 a month accounts going to be more complex, going to have more campaigns, maybe more locations, more ad group, then a $500 a month. So we try to price that accordingly. But if somebody’s just like, hey, this is working really well, I want to double my spend. Right. That means you’re going to get even better value.
Ryan Shank: 05:19 Yeah, yeah, yeah. So you just, you just dial it up. That’s awesome. Um, what, uh, what kind of clients are you working with? Service based businesses, ecommerce, medical, like what does that look like?
Ross Tudor: 05:29 Yeah, so we were primarily lead generation focused. Yup. Primarily in the B to c space, couple of B2b accounts, um, and a couple of ECOMMERCE, but our bread and butter really is that B to c lead gen based business. So that’s home services, that’s medical. Those are the two biggest areas for sure.
Ryan Shank: 05:46 Got It. Got It. So businesses that would be like on like a home advisor or an Angie’s list or like a thumbtack kind of businesses. Right,
Ross Tudor: 05:52 exactly right. HVC companies, plumbers, roofers, medical that can be dentists in a local medical practice as well.
Ryan Shank: 06:01 Got It. Talk to me about your pitch to these guys because I’m always curious about, you know, when, especially when you’re pitching, you know, I’ve pitched these guys and you should sell them leads as well and when you’re talking, especially h Vac, you know, one of the things with them is like, look, and this is my, my perspective, I’m obviously going to turn it over to you, but you know for them it’s like you could get them, you know, these service jobs, right? Like, hey come out, you’re going to AAC services, but then boom, you might land like an install or like a new, you know, a new install, which could be like 10 k which obviously makes the return on ad spend, return on investment a lot higher. So like when you’re talking to them and you’re pitching your services, what does that conversation look like? Like, how are, how are you pitching the services?
Ross Tudor: 06:38 Yeah, that’s a really good question for them specifically. You’re exactly right in a lot of those folks don’t really want more of those little service jobs. That’s really true with plumber and stuff like that. They’re like, we’ve have all the business we need. And so for those, a lot of times we ultimately ended up selling how can we keep your sales pipeline full? Maybe when you’re not in peak season, when it’s not a hundred degrees outside and your air conditioning breaks, we’re going to build you a lead generation system that is going to be sustainable, not just somebody who’s going to click a button and it turned some ads on and off and it is kind of a tough sell for sure. I mean, we really tried to position ourselves not just as APPC vendor, but somebody who is going to be more of a strategic partner business.
Ross Tudor: 07:16 You know, we, we do offer more than just Google search ads and stuff like that. So it’s a bigger package that we’re selling. Um, you know, one of the ways we tried to differentiate is by getting to know their business a lot better than just the many PPC vendors out there who are going to take your list of keywords and run some ads. And ultimately I know that, I know you’re not trying to make this a phone wagon thing, but call tracking is a big way. We’re able to get to know people’s businesses a lot better and a way we can differentiate ourselves.
Ryan Shank: 07:44 Yeah, I mean that’s going to be my next question cause I always felt like what I was working kind of like either selling leads to them. It was always this weird like caught like not conflict but it was like sales and marketing. It’s like if you’re delivering them a lead or a phone call and then they either don’t answer the call or they don’t respond to the lead or follow up with it, it’s like, Hey, I, you know, and then they’re just going to come back to you and say like, Hey, you know that your leads are, the leads are down or the leads are bad. But then there’s like the marketers argument of like, well you didn’t answer fast and you didn’t follow up with them and you know, data tells us that 80% of sales are made on the fifth to 12th contact and you know, you need your lead response time to be like within five minutes. So like how are you like integrating into their systems? Like, like basically I, I guess my question is more is like how much visibility do you have? Like, are you seeing, you know, what happens after that handoff from like lead to, you know, like when the lead comes in. Um, and how much, you know, I guess, uh, yeah, just I guess interaction. Do you have with that?
Ross Tudor: 08:43 Yeah, so that varies from client to client and a lot of it honestly is how sophisticated their CRM is. Yeah. And sometimes we have great visibility and they’re able to tie it all the way through the sales process or our best clients are the most sophisticated and give us the most insight into that process. Um, in every case though, we are able to, like we’re monitoring calls, we are actually listening to them and there’s a temptation to say like, oh call longer than two minutes is a qualified call. Like well sometimes they just didn’t pick up the phone and so we actually have no idea. So I actually liked to go in and listen to every single call and you know, give some quantitative and qualitative feedback on number of these calls that actually turned into new patients. And again, the best clients are the ones who understand the difference between sales and marketing and say, look, this was a qualified call.
Ross Tudor: 09:30 If we didn’t get them in for an appointment or you know, quote book did their house, whatever, that’s on us. That’s on our sales team. That was somebody that theoretically should have been a customer. So it’s cool. And then the one, uh, the one really cool anecdote for recently kind of just started using phone wagon last month for location, like medical practice here in Richmond. And they previously were considering cutting back on there like reception staff. They thought they had too many people employed and after one month of calls, my feedback to them was most people are waiting like two or three minutes before anybody answers the phone. Um, these are, and she kind of showed the shared with them the data of the calls that did get answered. How many of those turned into new patients? Like you guys are losing business because people aren’t picking up the phone fast enough. So now they are not cutting back and they’re actually contemplating hiring more people. So you guys are creating jobs, man.
Ryan Shank: 10:23 Wow. That is awesome. I mean it’s such good data too because like without that data, without you as the person looking into that data as well, like they might not know, like they look on the surface like, oh we cut back, but you’re bringing, you know, it’s, it’s really you just using, you know, we’re just the tool, but it’s really you going to them and saying like, Hey, if you do this, you know, let’s say you’re closing at 50%, right? You have all these calls that are waiting this long. If you just answer these calls, half of them are going to turn into, you know, new patients, you know, new business, whatever it is. But I mean that’s an awesome way cause I think, I think the biggest like data’s only so valuable. Like it’s way you interpret and like actually act on the data where then you know you can create a lot of the value. So
Ross Tudor: 11:01 that’s awesome. And it’s really important as a marketer as well. I mean to get those insights, see exactly what customers are asking about when they call in and exactly what kind of things that the salespeople are saying. Because then it helps me as I’m writing ad copy is I’m thinking about keywords or if people are calling about something irrelevant, then that’s like really good way for me to find some new negative keywords I can add in, things like that. So the whole thing works really well in tandem.
Ryan Shank: 11:25 That’s great. That’s great. Yeah. Just as a side note, I was working with this plumbing client a few years ago in New York and I was driving calls and then he was getting all these calls from people and he wasn’t closing any and I was like, why are you not closing any? I started listening to the calls and what I realized is like, you know, someone would be like, Hey, I’m in the upper east side of New York. I need, you know, a plumber to come. Same Day appointment, I’ll pay the premium. But then the guy was like, all right, well you have to pay $400 upfront on the credit card before I even send the tech guy out because he was scared that he wouldn’t get the jobs or whatever. And I’m like, man, this is killing your conversion rate. No one else is asking for like up front payment before they send a tech out.
Ryan Shank: 12:00 Just send the tech out and let you know, let the numbers play out. And he started doing that. He started going out to more jobs and once you’re out there, I mean, he was closing like 80% of them anyway, so I was like, just go out there. Like if it’s a, especially a plumbing need, no one’s like, doesn’t want their toilet to get fixed right now. You’re not really shopping that around that that often, especially in like a high income neighborhood of upper east side. So it was like, you know, things like that. Being able to get that kind of insight and I think like a lot of these businesses to being able to then lean on the marketer as like that true partner. Like you were saying, instead of like, oh, just manage my aunt’s been trying me leaves, but it’s like, no, I’m gonna give you recommendations from this marketing and from the conversations for you to help you close more deals because if they close more return on ad spends better, they increase adspend. Hopefully everyone’s happy. Right?
Ross Tudor: 12:47 Exactly right. Like I said, man, it really is just better for everyone all around makes me better at my job. We get to meet you better results as a business. Everybody’s happy.
Ryan Shank: 12:55 Yeah. That’s awesome. Um, all right, so a couple things. I’m curious, how are you a, what does your reporting look like? Um, tools that you use, a frequency like cadence, you know, is it weekly, biweekly, monthly. Um, and then yeah, just like kind of communication that you have as well.
Ross Tudor: 13:12 Mm. So we do formal reports. We use a tool and I’ve never actually heard anybody say it out loud, but it’s either Slido. So I do [inaudible] ideal. I’ve never heard anybody actually say it however that’s pronounced, but we use that, uh, and we’re relatively happy with it. Um, it definitely has some, you know, all the integrations we really need at this point. Um, so yeah, we do that. We send out a formal formal monthly report, uh, try to get those out within the first five business days of the month.
Ryan Shank: 13:37 What are you pulling it? You’re pulling in ad words, data, you pull it, it like search results, like SEO stuff or is it mainly just paid, like
Ross Tudor: 13:43 cause paid? Yeah. So we don’t do any sort of SEO agency, but yeah,
Ryan Shank: 13:47 absolutely. Clicks, web conversions, phone calls, like all that, just all in one. Yeah.
Ross Tudor: 13:51 So we usually do three or four little widgets up at the top with your, the highest level things and then top keywords for the month, a year to date chart and things like that. That’s great. Yeah, really, really simple. And then we’ll include a summary with that. That’s, I really enjoy writing those summaries. That’s another thing, like kind of the toughest thing to automate. Um, but it’s the way that I really get to stay really familiar with every account. Um, and kind of tell the story of what’s going on. Anybody can kind of produce a chart, but I feel like taking an hour or two to write an actual report with some level of a story behind it is a really, really good thing. Again, for both me and the client.
Ryan Shank: 14:29 Long form writing is, is powerful because you’re able to get your thoughts down. I, I was, uh, I saw someone tweeted the other day about how like startup CEOs or founders, you know, when they, instead of just doing like the board deck, the ones that are succeeding, it was some tweet from some VC, I forget who it was, but it was basically like founders that write long form, like a, about what’s going on with the company in addition to the board deck. He’s like, he’s, he’s never back to an unsuccessful one. Like all every single one that does that is successful. So I thought that was interesting. Yeah, I love that. That’s really cool. Yeah, it’s a, it’s a really cool, cool stat. So you do that monthly, um, using Slido, are you, what have they, do they respond? Like, do you have meetings as well or is it kind of like you’re just pushing, um, what does that look like?
Ross Tudor: 15:14 Yeah, again, that varies, but we usually at least offer a call, um, with that, like, Hey, let me know if you want to jump on a call within the next few days to go over this. Um, some people want to, some people don’t. You know, some clients obviously are just more involved than others. Um, in every case we do try to send something mid month. Also though, maybe not a formal, definitely not a formal report, but try to send something, a couple of insights, a couple things we’re working on. We never want to go a full month between people hearing from us and some clients we have calls with every week where we’re going over reports, they will pull, we have some automated things set up to opal that gets sent out every Monday morning or every Friday morning. Cool. It’s like that. So it totally varies.
Ryan Shank: 15:53 Awesome. What are, um, so just a couple more questions. What are, what are some cool, are you using Zapier right now?
Ross Tudor: 15:59 Uh, we do have, so we use unbounce as our landing page provider. Yeah. And so we do have a few few zap set up, um, for some obscure CRM connections.
Ryan Shank: 16:11 Okay, cool. Um, yeah. Awesome. And then, uh, last thing that I always close it out with a, well, actually before we get there, I’m curious, what does your team look like and how, how do you grow? What does, what does your business look like in the next, uh, next year?
Ross Tudor: 16:25 Yeah, so right now it’s just two of us. Uh, and to me, and then my cofounder is down in Charleston. Um, we have kind of a part time employee, another one of our former coworkers who is awesome and has been helping us out on the side. He’s also in house elsewhere somewhere now. Hopefully we bring him on within the next six months or so. Really take the lead on a lot of our paid search efforts. Um, beyond that, that is a really good question, man. I mean, we’re, we’re in a phase right now where we’re still less than a year old and are trying to, we’ve got, I never want to say a steady base of clients, knock on wood, right? But we’re in a place where we’re able to focus on the business itself and getting processes in place, onboarding, reporting like we just talked about, things like that. So where we can bring on another five, 10, 15 accounts without sacrificing quality, um, ultimately do that. I think it’s going to be bringing on people with some real PPC experience, uh, turning over a lot of the day to day account management to them and letting, you know, the two of us go out and really focus on bringing on new business.
Ryan Shank: 17:22 Yeah, I love it. Awesome. So final question. I’m always curious about this, about everyone. What’s your, uh, what’s your morning routine look like? Yeah.
Ross Tudor: 17:32 Ooh. Well it’s, it’s different recently now I’ve got, I’ve got a new puppy sitting at my feet and he’s starting to wake up from a nap. Uh, so to get him out, get him situated. Um, I also just saw, I upgraded recently to a standing desk, which I cannot commend highly enough. So the first hour or two hours every day I stand the entire time. I mean, it’s one of the adjustable and so I can sit throughout, but I found that I wake up, I make my coffee, I go to my standing desk, I quickly read, read some news locally, read a couple of PPC blogs, um, get some of that stuff out of the way while I stretch, literally stretch my legs. And get ready for the day. And I try not to really check emails or anything like that until like, I don’t know, an hour or so into the day. I want to get better at that. That’s good. Yeah. And I tried to get myself nice and situated both physically and mentally ready for the day, get a lot of distractions out, um, and then get going,
Ryan Shank: 18:28 getting into the zone. All right. Awesome. Uh, Ross, thank you so much for joining us. This is going to be also where can, where can people find you?
Ross Tudor: 18:37 Yeah. Look us up a hot corner, digital.com follow me on Twitter if you want at [inaudible] or nine. I don’t tweet very much.
Ryan Shank: 18:44 All right. Our tutor nine on Twitter, hot corner, digital.com. Ross, thank you so much for joining us. I’m riding chank. This is episode eight of growing your agency. Thank you guys. See Ross. Thanks buddy. All right. See it.
Ross Tudor: 18:58 Yeah.