Building a successful business is one of the most challenging yet rewarding things you’ll ever do in your life. The path can be rocky, to say the least, and you’ll encounter numerous learning experiences along the way. Sean Hyde, Founder of Ideation Digital, is no different. He’s made a lot of mistakes when he was starting out. He learned how to transform those mistakes into learning opportunities in order to develop the tools he needs to grow his business. One of the key nuggets Sean shares is the importance of getting the right team to engage people on social media to tell their story to win the clients.
Our guest on The Successful Pitch is Sean Hyde who is the Founder of a company called Ideation Digital. His real expertise is helping people use social media to tell their story to pull in new clients. I always love to hear the story of how somebody were struggling to raise money with a Kickstarter campaign that didn’t have social media and he gives some really great insights on engaging people with social media. He said, “When you’re looking to get the right team, you want to hire slow and fire fast and don’t ignore the red flags when you’re interviewing people.” He also said that his expertise is having his staff give him what he calls an end of day report. That’s the culture fit to work for him is, “What did you do every day? You have to give a short report on what went right, what went wrong, and what you’re going to do to fix it. He said, “When you make your clients the hero instead of you being the hero, then your business takes off.”
Listen To The Episode Here
Engage People On Social Media To Bring In New Clients with Sean Hyde
Our guest is Sean Hyde. He’s a lifelong entrepreneur at heart. He’s been involved in establishing businesses in real estate, automotive and marketing. He also has in-depth experience and has held designation is in the financial and equity market investing sectors. He’s the owner of Five Day Solution and Ideation Digital, which are two marketing strategy companies that serve businesses at different levels depending on where they are in their development. His company has worked with entrepreneurs and business organizations to help them grow their businesses through innovative digital marketing solutions that include social media, branding, website development, and even search engine optimization. He started three successful businesses with no traditional startup capital and has grown them by reinvesting in himself and his people without the use of traditional small business funding or even angel investors. That’s going to be interesting to hear about. Sean, welcome to the show.
Thanks, John. That was a heck of an introduction. I appreciate it.
You say you’re an entrepreneur at heart. How young were you? Take us back to when you realized that you wanted to be an entrepreneur.
To be honest with you, this was a total fluke. It’s the funniest thing. I was doing the traditional thing. I went to school. I was a pretty smart kid. I had skipped some grades and I read a lot when I was nerdy. I was on that straight path and I was about halfway through college and had to go on a flight. I went to the bookstore because I like to read, and I picked up Rich Dad Poor Dad, the Robert Kiyosaki book. I started reading through it. That’s an easy read, but it has a lot of impactful points. One of the things that stuck with me was Robert Kiyosaki discussed how most people’s biggest expense is taxes. He was like, “If you own your own business, if you have your own investments, you can save that 35% right off the top.” I was like, “That makes a lot of sense that I can make 35% extra money or give myself a raise. I can make less and pursue my passions if I do this. If I learn the tax system and I learn real estate investments, I learned how to invest in a company.
After reading that book, I finished college anyway, but I went right to work for a real estate developer who owned his own business thinking that I could learn from him. He had heard about me through his kids who had said, “Sean’s doing all this stuff and he’s learning investing. That’s a guy I need to work for me.” I worked for him for about a year and learned a lot of what I did do. He was a very traditional real estate developer. He was more about cutting corners and playing games with finance, a really smart guy. I didn’t want a business where people were showing up on my door because they need to get paid and they had it or where you are constantly scrounging for financing to that next construction loan. As I decided I was going to leave that company, I went online and I was like, “Let me try and find businesses that have low startup capital.” I was a year out of college, still paying off student loans and I didn’t have a ton of money. I’ve had good profit margins and I found a windshield repair company and I literally, on a credit card, spent less than a thousand dollars at the time to fly out to Las Vegas. They taught me how to fix the windshields for a week. They put me up, sent me back with a kit, and out of the trunk or my BMW because I had started making money and I thought that’s what you do, and you make money is go buy a fancy car. I went to a car dealership on a Saturday morning and start fixing their windshields.
That was a Toyota dealership. We’ve got a Mercedes dealership because I grew up in the New York City area, so we had a lot of big car dealerships. It was a good area for that. They started saying to me things like, “Usually a windshield guy can fix leather tears or paint chips or bumpers.” I was like, “I don’t know how to do that, but I bet you I could figure it out.” I went online again and I started researching companies. I found a company in Michigan that did all of that. I moved to Michigan for two months and I learned how to do everything from fix dents to paint bumpers. I got a van and hired a couple of people. I already had a Jeep that we had bought with the money I started making as part of the company, and basically built a business from there. I had an uncle who had an advertising firm, so he worked with me on some marketing. We went in and made sure we were the best at what we did. Then I developed skill sets from there as far as making sure we were placed well for tax advantages. We had a hard time with sales, so I took a cold calling class and I started learning how to do a pitch and get in there so that we could get into these competitive markets and deal with these car dealers.
[Tweet “Have your staff give you a daily status on what they did to drive revenue.”]
I quickly learned that working on cars was not my passion. That’s how I got into the equity markets and real estate because investing is my passion, like helping other people grow things. I enjoyed going to seminars and meeting other people and mentoring people and saying the same things I learned, “Taxes are costing you money. Real estate’s a great long-term investment. Having your own business is an important thing.” I tried to hand off that business probably a little too quickly and sat back and said, “I’m pretty young and I’ve got some money and I’d had some success. What do you do?”I was like, “You do what everyone says they did when they were older. You travel. You try new things and meet people.” I started traveling the world. Long story short, I spent a few years traveling the world, trusted the wrong people, and made some mistakes as a young person. I lost most of what I had. I learned a lot of lessons on how not to manage your business, especially for around the country.
When you’re talking about growing your business from windshields to fixing bumpers, to me, the big lesson that stands out there is if your customers that are buying from you say, “We would also buy the following five other things,” that’s a great way to figure out that you have something that people are willing to pay for without you having to do a lot of expensive research, as opposed to trying to figure out what to sell people. If they tell you they’ll buy it and they want these other services, that’s valuable whether you’re selling windshield wipers or anything in business.
The other hand on that is customer acquisition for most of us is our biggest expense. If we can sell more of the customers we already have, why wouldn’t you try and do that? In real estate, they’re the same thing where I worked with a guy for awhile that said, “If you have a family renting your house and they’re growing, they’re going to move because they needed more room. Look into the cost of expanding that house because in a lot of cases, it will be worth it to you to have the equity of your home and keep a good tenant in your house rather than having to start all over trying to find a good tenant.” A lot of businesses use that concept where if you have a client or a customer that you love and they’re asking for things that you can give them in addition to what you’re doing, why wouldn’t you?
You also alluded to making some bad decisions in your youth and losing everything. Doing due diligence on people before you hire them, before you take their money as an investor, who you have on your team, even due diligence on who you take on as a client is a valuable thing for people to understand. A lot of people are so happy to have an investor or have a new client or get somebody to fill this job, they don’t take the time. What would you say are things you’ve learned so you don’t repeat that mistake of getting involved in business with the wrong people?
If I can steal a quote from Eben Pagan, it’s to, “Hire slowly, fire quickly.” I was too attached to people. I grew up around people. I was social and I was loyal. Loyalty’s very important and I got too attached. If I hire somebody, I can make it work. Even when I saw red flags, I tried to work through it and that was a mistake. The other big mistake I made was I didn’t put systems in place. I didn’t understand even that concept at that age. I would hire somebody that had worked for an autobody shop and think painting bumpers at a car dealership is going to be no issue. It actually was very different for them and the independence was a challenge for them because nobody’s looking over their shoulder. Those were things I did not take into consideration. One of the biggest lessons I learned was hiring the right people and then giving them the tools and the support they need and how important that is if you really want to grow a business that’s not dependent on you.
[Tweet “Hire slowly, fire quickly.”]
Do you have one cultural fit that you’ve decided for your company, Ideation Digital, that is a filter you use on whether somebody is a good fit for your company so you’re hiring the right people?
For me it, everything else aside, I have to work with results-oriented people, so they can have different approaches. At the end of the day, what did you work on today? What results did you get? What challenges were there and what questions do you have? Whatever you’re doing every day, you need to get some result. Sometimes that results we learned what not to do. You can learn from that and you can apply that. The biggest thing is your team has to be working on growing your business and it’s me gathering information. Especially if you’re building a new business, you’re not going to do everything right the first time, but you need people to understand they have to get out there and make things happen even if they’re the wrong things so that we know what the wrong things are.
Have your staff give you an end of day report. It’s measurable. If somebody is not willing to do that, then they’re probably not a fit for you. That’s micro-managing to be asking me what I did every day. Law firms, they have to say what they did every fifteen minutes for billable hours. There are all kinds of variation on that. Some people are like, “How about once a week?” You’re like, “No, every day. I need to know what the end of the day report is.” How did you come up with the name Five Day Solution?
When I stopped traveling, I did a brief stint in corporate America for two and a half years just to see what it was like. I got promoted out of existence. During that time, I had a girl that worked for me. I was running first class airline. I had 80 bartenders and 100-something cleaning people working for me. One of the bartenders was going through a bad divorce and she was going to lose all the equity in her car because they were literally going to repossess it. She had, let’s say, $8,000. I said, “In real estate, there’s something called a five-day sale, which is how you sell a house in five days from market value.” I was like, “Let’s try this on your car,” and it works. Believe it or not, a car dealer bought it from market value. She got all her equity out of it, sold it in five days, didn’t get it repossessed, and didn’t have to take any more credit hits. I tried this again and it worked. I was like, “I’m going to write an eBook, How to Sell Any Car in Five Days.”
When I moved to Charleston to start working with my uncle who had the advertising firm to develop this new business brand, I’m like, “I know a lot of things that you can do in five days. They’ll have a big impact on your life that I can make these little books about.” I had started studying digital marketing and online marketing strategies when they were still new-ish. I moved here, and I started meeting small business owners that needed help with their websites, their online marketing, and marketing in general with smaller budgets. I was like, “There’s a real need for that. There’s nobody addressing this small business marketing niche out there. These traditional advertising firms want $10,000 to $20,000. No one’s out there on that smaller budget range. Let me look into that.” We kept the name even though we took a shift, but we stuck with it because we do fast turnarounds. One of our things with that first business model was we’re a small business marketing model. Small businesses need quicker turnaround, smaller budgets, more ROI. We’re provable ROI so that’s what we focused on and we kept that name.
You’ve been able to grow your businesses without taking either angel investing or bank financing. What is the secret sauce you have there?
I don’t know if it’s secret sauce. A lot of people will probably tell you that’s a mistake because I’m sure you could grow it faster if you did it the other way in some circumstances. For me, it was like an eat what you kill theory. You want this realistically. I got out there and I said, “We’ve got to make money and we’ve got to be smart with his money if we want to keep growing,” and I do want to keep growing. I want the schedule I want, I want the lifestyle I want, and I want to be able to talk to people. I mentor kids or other adults in business and say, “I did start a business with a small credit card purchase. Five Day Solution, I started with a Groupon. I spent $15 at Groupon. I bought a digital marketing education course. It was this huge comprehensive course and that’s how I started that business. I spent two months working through this certification course and implementing all the strategies. We’ve grown from growing that business to now building a second brand off of that.
I don’t know that everyone would agree with me. Robert Kiyosaki, who I love would not agree with me because he’s all about leveraging other people’s money. For me, it’s worked very well to be able to keep that motivation and keep control of my finances. One of the problems I ran into with my first business was when the banking markets went crazy. Some of my line of credits were like credit cards so I had a lot of credits. They went from 7% to 23% overnight when the banking crisis happened. You can imagine what quadrupling your overhead looks like when you’re running a business. When we did try that out for a little bit, it wasn’t worth it. I backed away pretty quickly from even using like credit lines in some cases.
You continue to be a good student even though you’ve been out of school for several years to continue to grow your skills. Would that be something you would encourage other people to do as well?
Absolutely. You read in the papers, you see all these memes that every successful person is constantly reading and educating themselves, especially in my industry, digital marketing changes daily. Facebook puts out a new platform or product or new algorithm. It’s the same thing with Google, with Snapchat, good this week or bad? Is Twitter going to implode? These are real questions. Some of the people that I try to follow, the smartest marketers I know, say they get up every morning to read every article that’s out there on what’s going on. What the new abilities are because these platforms, in order to compete, are constantly adding new features and new functions. Some of them are useful and some of them are time wasters. Part of our business success is knowing the difference.
Do you have a story of someone you’ve helped using social media to get them more sales?
We’ve done some interesting things. My uncle runs a traditional but very successful advertising firm. When I started this, he was like, “Social media, that’s all fad. It’s a tool. It will be okay but it’s not going to be a thing.” There was a local woman here who’s trying to publish a book. She got a newspaper column and she got these cooking classes and she even had a local TV show. She was putting out a cooking book and she did a crowdfunding. About three or four days out, she’d only raised about 15% of what she was looking for.
I went to her because I knew her. When I saw what she was doing. I sent her a message. I was like, “April, why don’t you let me help you? I can go to Facebook and find people that have used your specific crowdfunding platform that liked cookbooks and like supporting these events and put your thing in front of just them, and let’s see if we can get someone engaged.” By the end of her campaign, she’d raised 10% more than she was looking for. It took her from not even coming close to being able to publish her book to having more money than she needed. She added in features and gave people bonuses and was able to start her business and her book from there. We’ve done a lot of interesting things like that. I got mentioned in that book. It’s one of my favorite things. I’m like, “If you look into this book, in the credits it says, “Thank you, Sean Hyde, for stepping in and saving the day.” It’s silly but to me that was a big thing. I spent maybe an hour helping somebody out and but now I’m in a book.
You’ve got not just the right people, but you’ve got the right people engaged on social media. What are your suggestions and techniques on how to get people engaged when you make a social media post?
With most business owners, their biggest problem is specificity. I could go to so many business owners and ask them what their offer is. What are you actually offering? Exactly work on that pitch. What is the specific value that you’re offering in exchange for their value and their money? Most business owners cannot define that. You run into that with so many clients where I’m like, “I can just beat people over the head with the name of your business, but that’s not going to get us anywhere. That’s like that old school marketing where maybe if someone sees a Whirlpool ad 3,000 times, when they go to buy a washer, they’ll think Whirlpool. We’re in a place where we can be so much better than that.
[Tweet “With most business owners, their biggest problem is specificity.”]
The one thing that everyone needs to concentrate on whether it’s your strategies, or like recently Donald Miller, he’s like, “Keep it short.” He said, “One of the brain’s main purpose is to conserve energy, so don’t waste people’s energy and making them think. Get right to the point.” Don’t try to be the hero. That’s the other thing that I see a lot of people make a mistake of is they constantly is talking about the products when people want a guide. Everyone wants to be their own hero, but they want someone that says, “I can help you be that hero,” and not someone that’s like, “I’m the hero.” Rather than saying, “Here are the 4,000 products we offer,” we try to work with people on saying, “Here are the results you will get that you want from working with us.” Those are the two easiest things that people can do to create a lot of impact when they’re posting on social media.
Talk about going from stumbling through your pitch to soaring from boring your audience, to inspiring them, and from confusing them to giving them clarity as the outcomes of having a good elevator pitch, for example. What are some of those outcomes and journeys you take people on?
As our brand or when we’re working with customers?
Customers. How about somebody who is compliant?
I don’t even know that we have any of those, to be honest with you. I’m trying to think we work hard with that. I would say some of the clients that let us just handle that are pretty good. A lot of them, they have a difficult time stepping outside themselves and seeing that. We worked with some restaurants and we put together some restaurant posts that were all about what it’s like having the perfect birthday dinner with your friends and then ran that ad on Facebook at people having birthdays coming up in the next seven to fourteen days. Rather than saying, “We have the best menu or we have the best sushi, or we have the best burgers,” it’s pictures of fun-looking birthday dishes with people having a good time and saying, “This is what it’s going to feel like on your birthday when you come here. Don’t risk going to a restaurant that might have bad service or bad food and ruin it. You want to feel like these people that are having fun over here,” and then putting it in front of people probably right around the time they’re trying to decide where they’re going to go to dinner for their birthday or what they’re going to do.
It’s not about you and the quality of your food. It’s the emotional connection because that’s the difference between right brain-left brain engagement. If you’re just giving people information about how good your food is from a nutritional standpoint of view as opposed to how you’re going to feel having the experience at that restaurant, that’s much more engaging. That needs to translate into social media is what I’m hearing you saying.
With food in particular, you can do that because we all connect to that. Feeding someone is taking care of them. That’s part of nurturing. Restaurants in particular, if they spent more time with engagement on that level of the experience and the nourishing and the nurturing potential they have as a good restaurant, rather than saying, “We have $4.99 appetizers or we have the biggest menu around,” and then putting it in front of the right audience, which we have a lot of opportunity to do these days with all these different platforms, finding those exactly who we want to find, that’s a great way to do it. You can show them like, “Afterwards, this is how you’re going to feel more important and you’re going to feel more special. You’re going to feel less stressed.” I’ve seen a couple of restaurants adopt these order-ahead-of-time platforms that busy parents love. If you market that to say, “You’re frazzled enough, let us handle dinner,” as opposed to, “Here’s our new little gadget that we have where you can order takeout from an app on your phone. Download our app right now.” You can find some good results with those messages.
You’re also experts at creating websites for people. What’s the biggest mistake you see people have on their business websites?
Usually, they don’t understand basic search engine optimization and their content. A lot of people, the first thing we ask them is, “Is your website showing up when people search for you?”They’ll be like, “Yeah.” When people search for Joel Murphy’s Tractor Company, it comes up first. My first question is, “If I search for tractors in Chicago and Illinois, do you come up first?” They’re like, “No. We don’t come up at all. What’s the point?” I’m like, “If somebody already knows Joel Murphy Tractor Company, there are about 7,000 different ways they could find you. If I’m new in town or I need a new tractor and my old store went down or I don’t want to go to Lowe’s, the first thing most people do is they’re going to go on the internet and look for tractors stores near me. They’re going to look up your reviews and they’re going to look for you, especially on mobile now. The statistics say 54% of people that searched for your business on mobile enter your store the same day.
People that aren’t adopting mobile-friendly websites are considering the mobile experience as another big one. People tend to talk about themselves and talk about their product. One thing we see a lot is they missed talking about their actual product though. We’ll find business managers that get in and they talk about taxes, talking about accounting, and talk about who their clients are. They never actually say, “We’re business managers.” When you type business managers into Google, they don’t show up and that’s something a lot of people miss, what are the fundamental keywords that you need to have on your website as part of your content.
[Tweet “People tend to talk about themselves and talk about their product.”]
What I’ve found interesting for me is coming up with a brand identity, when you can have a tagline that is memorable and tells people what you do. For example, mine is I’m the Pitch Whisperer and I’ve done enough content and been on enough interviews where people say that. If you Google Pitch Whisperer, that gives you all kinds of stuff about me. It’s much easier for people to remember than my personal name. Those kinds of things have some value in creating content that can drive traffic to your site as well.
The other side of that is if I go look for the pitch whisperer and you’re one of ten websites, and there are different Google business pages and images there, that you’re okay. If I have to Google the pitch whisperer and it’s seven different pages on your website plus your video plus ten of your images plus I’m listening to your podcast, you are the pitch whisperer. I’m not looking for that anymore and that’s another thing we work with people on is and especially in smaller markets, you have the ability. One of our clients is a national franchise that does auto work and they were missing some segments. We went into keyword research on custom paint jobs. It’s a huge search market here. You have your franchise site. We could create some YouTube videos, build your own easy small site and do a couple of posts, and literally dominate every search for custom paint jobs in this entire metropolitan market. That’s exactly what we did, hundred searches a month just for that term and maybe another 200 for related terms.
All of a sudden, they’re getting all these extra leads off of that just on doing a couple little tweaks. That’s exactly what you’re talking about that to be of such a multimedia world now, it’s not just the website, it’s who’s pointing at your website that’s saying, “These people are legitimate,” because the search engines want to see that. On top of that, on your website is text and images and videos and audio. Search engine to read that, that’s the other side. Are your images numbered 3561243? That can’t be seen. Is your image called Dinner Special at Charleston’s Best Restaurant? That’s the other side that people forget sometimes.
The importance of video content helps your search engine optimization. That is something that people can even just Facebook Live or Snapchat. What’s your thought on all of that? Will Facebook Live take over or Snapchat? My observation from my little world of people I know who have teenagers is they’re not even on Facebook. They love Snapchat because it doesn’t stay around, their parents aren’t there. There are a lot of psychological reasons why people use certain platforms and I wonder how that fits into your branding and marketing strategy for your clients?
We always look at a product market mix first. We definitely want to look at what you’re offering, who your market is, and then figuring out where your market is and that changes. There are a lot of Snapchat now that they’re facing challenges because there’s competition. Their biggest challenge is that their parents are getting on there because they like the filters now. Twitter used to be the hide out from Facebook, and then Instagram was the hide out from Facebook, and now Snapchat is the hide out from it. Their parents are following that world little by little and they’re trying to hide deeper and deeper in the internet somewhere. To answer your question, I don’t know that Snapchat will last forever. I don’t think they’re going to make the money, but Twitter hasn’t made money yet and they’re still around. That’s not always a great indication, but as newer outlets for the younger generation come out, they will run to those because their parents and their uncles and their grandparents don’t know about it yet, but also because we live in a society where everyone wants to be that early adopter. Everyone wants to be the first one with the new iPhone, even though it’s going to have bugs and be overpriced. Everyone wants to be the first on that social platform even if nobody’s using it because they were the first one there. We’ll always have that attraction and part of the challenge is monitoring them.
Any final thoughts you want to leave everyone with, Sean?
I agree with a lot of what you say so I’ll keep listening to your show. The clarity of message, it’s a big thing. Everyone needs to work on being able to explain your business very quickly and be able to explain that from the perspective of how you’re going to help the person you’re talking to. What’s in it for them is what everyone tends to overlook. I see this with so many clients when they have their marketing message, and they tell you, “Talk about our products or talk about this or show this.” They’ve got a million-people trying to do that to them. They want to know what’s in it for them. Everyone wants to know that these days. Make sure that when you do it, it’s concise because people don’t have attention spans. Make sure that you’re taking that, “We’re the guide, not the hero perspective,” or “We can help you and here’s what’s in it for you,” perspective. Those are the big things that we see a lot of people having challenges.
How can people follow you? What’s your Twitter handle? What’s your website?
I’m pretty much @SeanPHyde almost everywhere, that’s Twitter. You can find me on Facebook pretty easily. Those are the ones I stick to. I do have an Instagram but honestly, I’m not active, the same thing with Snapchat. I spend so much time on other people’s social media, stick to the ones that I’m good at. Our website for our new brand, which is where we would focus, www.ideation-digital.com. Anyone can go out there. They can reach me at SeanHyde@IdeationDigital.com with their questions and I’m always happy top help.
Thanks, Sean. You’ve been a great guest. I appreciate your sharing your insights on what it takes to have a successful pitch using social media and making your clients the hero, not yourself.
Thank you, John. I appreciate the opportunity.
- Ideation Digital
- Five Day Solution
- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- @SeanPHyde Twitter
- Sean’s Facebook
Wanna Host Your Own Podcast?
Get your FREE copy of John’s latest eBook Getting To Yes now!
John Livesay, The Pitch Whisperer
Share The Show
Did you enjoy the show? I’d love it if you subscribed today and left us a 5-star review!
- Click this link
- Click on the ‘Subscribe’ button below the artwork
- Go to the ‘Ratings and Reviews’ section
- Click on ‘Write a Review’
- John Livesay Facebook
- John Livesay Twitter
- John Livesay LinkedIn
- John Livesay YouTube