26 Mar Bootstrapping A Business to 7 Figure Sales
In this week’s Manufacturing Ecommerce Success Series, our guest speaker was Jackie Hermes. Jackie Hermes is the Founder and CEO of Accelity. Accelity helps Saas companies with their marketing. Jackies built this business from herself to a 7 figure plus revenue business. Her entrepreneurial journey began with cookies.
Curt Anderson asked her, we’d love to hear how & what sparked your wonderful entrepreneurial journey?
Jackie began as an intern, but they were like interns at GE. GE went into a hiring freeze in 2008 and 2009. So she took some odd jobs that don’t appear on my LinkedIn profile in the meantime. Then she came to a stop at the sign wave. And she began her career there as a recruiter, although she had a marketing degree.
She says she’s glad she did it because she now knows how to hire for her company. After leaving iWave, she founded Excelente and ran a vegan cookie company.
Curt, Jackie, and Damon discuss how LinkedIn can help Jackie’s business grow. What is LinkedIn and how valuable is a networking event for business growth that has grown in popularity over the years?
Jackie explained that in marketing, the math is simple: you need awareness and eyeballs for anyone to be interested in your product or service, and you need those few people to eventually convert to a sale. And the packages were to live for about six months while we were trying to sell them, and I didn’t really have anyone read my work or anything.
Curt asked Jackie to share her experience as an entrepreneur, as she has built her incredible 20-person marketing firm, COVID.
She discussed her journey during COVID, stating that COVID lost 40% of its business in the first two weeks of operation. To get the business back on track, the company laid off its entire management team. We were back where we started in three months. We rehired everyone on a full-time basis.
Damon concludes the conversation by thanking a guest for her time.
Jackie Hermes is Accelity’s Founder and CEO. Built with no funding from $0 to $7-figures. Accelity is a one-of-a-kind company run by a group of entrepreneurs and marketers who genuinely enjoy what they do. Among their offerings were Inbound marketing strategy and execution, inbound software implementation and management—HubSpot (#1 inbound marketing tool), online lead generation and qualification, content marketing, blogging, email marketing, social media, and website design and management are all part of our services.
She was also a co-founder of Women’s Entrepreneurship Week. It is a business and economic growth event series that showcases, educates, and connects women entrepreneurs and professionals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and beyond.
She also owned Sweet Monkees, which are delicious dairy-free cookies made with healthy ingredients. Over the course of three years, she built this business from the ground up, marketing and successfully selling to over ten grocery chains. She sold this business in 2014 to focus on Accelity. Jackie earned her MBA in 2011 from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
About the Manufacturing eCommerce Succes Series
The Manufactuing eCommerce Success Series shares insight on topics from talented people in manufacturing. We highlight people and share information to help manufacturers embrace technology, complete their digital transformation, and generate sales from traditional and ecommerce channels. Curt Anderson and Damon Pistulka host the Manufacturing eCommerce Success Series Fridays at 10:32 Pacific Time.
Our MFG eCommerce Success episode blog posts are here
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About Exit Your Way®
Exit Your Way® provides a structured process and skilled resources to grow business value and allow business owners to leave with 2X+ more money when they are ready.
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Other websites to check out: Cross Northwest Mergers & Acquisitions Damon Pistulka Ira Bowman Service Professionals Network (SPN) B2B Tail Warren Research Stellar Insight Now CFO Ecommerce MGMT, Bowman Digital Media, Project Help You Grow Dotcom Jungle
Bootstrapping A Business to 7 Figure Sales Series
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Damon Pistulka, Curt Anderson, Jackie Hermes
Damon Pistulka 00:07
All right, everyone. Welcome once again to the manufacturing ecommerce success Show. I’m your co host Damon Pistulka. And with me, I’ve got the Oh, I gotta get my finger going the right way. Beside me. brother from another mother on the East Coast. Kurt Anderson. Kurt take it away today.
Curt Anderson 00:27
Hey Damon Pistulka The man with a plan Mr. Exit Strategy specialists from exit your way he’s over.
Damon Pistulka 00:34
He’s over yet to talk and it is
Curt Anderson 00:36
132 Eastern time. 1232 central mountains an hour before Damon, what do you got? 1032 Maybe something like that or so. Yeah.
Damon Pistulka 00:44
Curt Anderson 00:45
Alright guys, so Hey, happy Friday. What an honor. What a privilege here at manufacturing ecommerce success where our goal is for you to stop being the best kept secret now our guest today is absolutely no best kept secret. So we have Hermus in the house here. Jackie. coming to us live from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. How are you today?
Jackie Hermes 01:06
I am fantastic. I love the intro. It’s really weird having the screen flipped. Oh, it is it is oh, where you’re pointing right? Yeah.
Curt Anderson 01:15
Yeah, like you’re like, right down
Jackie Hermes 01:16
here up is easy. There. Yeah,
Damon Pistulka 01:18
up and down. works right. That’s weird. Right.
Curt Anderson 01:21
Got it. So wait. So Jackie, we have a ton of cover. We do this every Friday. We Damon I just love doing this. And so we were very serious here. So our Damon our questions are very serious, right. And so you know our tagline. We do have a theme song Jackie. We couldn’t afford to pay for our theme song. So our theme song is it’s this ain’t no party. This ain’t no disco. This ain’t no fooling around.
And so like everybody knows name of that band jump in the chat box. But so we’re gonna get serious right now. Jackie, we’re going to take a deep dive into important questions on your entrepreneurial journey, your business, so on and so forth. So Jackie, your hypothetical, just I’m just, I’m just pulling this out. Okay. If you were to go to the Greek Fest in Milwaukee, how many Euros now some of you might pronounce Miss gyros? How many Euros? Can you line up in your arm at one time?
Jackie Hermes 02:09
Okay, so I actually worked at Greek fest as a child did. I did. I think I could get like four lined up to deliver when I was like 12 years old. So now maybe more? I don’t know. That is so funny that you asked that because I just told my husband that story like that is.
Curt Anderson 02:30
Well, I talked to your husband. I’m just kidding. I did. What? I did a little dig in Jackie. So anyway, so that is great. So guys, if you’re wondering anything about Jackie, our LinkedIn influencer here, she is gifted, she’s telling that she can check. I’m gonna I put money on at least half a dozen euros right now. I’m a Euro junkie. So you’re not good. Definitely. I’m coming out to Greek Fest in Milwaukee.
So we’ll do that soon. But we want to dig deep into you our great entrepreneurial success, we have so much to unpack so much to cover today. So let’s go here. You kicked off your career. Your young gal, can I say gals that appropriate. So you are a young lady. And you have had an incredible successful career so far, kick things off at General Electric Zai wave, talk a little bit about the early stages. And then we would love to hear what how, what kicked off this wonderful entrepreneurial journey of yours. Yeah, it
Jackie Hermes 03:20
started at GE. I actually started as an intern, but they were like, don’t call yourselves interns. We’re gonna give you a different title because we want you to sound legitimate. And I was like, Okay, great. Thank you, gee, I really wanted to work at GE for like my whole career. I loved how hard everyone worked. And there was a great community there loved the sandwich bar at lunch. I don’t know why that really sticks out to me right now.
But then 2008 hit and we all know what happened in like late 2008 2009. They went into a hiring freeze. They weren’t hiring anyone into the company. And I was like, Well, I guess if I want to have you know, a career not at part time at GE, I have to move into something else. I took actually a few random jobs that do not show up on my LinkedIn profile in between. I don’t even know if we should get into those stories very random.
And then I landed at signwave. And I started my career there as a recruiter, which I was like, I have a marketing degree. I do not want to be a recruiter. I’m really glad that I did a couple years in recruiting because now I have such a better idea of how to hire for my company. I you know, it was at the time I was like, Oh, God, I really don’t want to do this. And now oh, I’m really glad I did do that even though I mean recruiting is sales and it is a really, really hard job. And I moved into the product area so I worked on their most popular product manager most other products moved into marketing. And then I eventually left to start excel at they had acquired a company.
They were private equity owned, so they were like acquiring companies like mad but they acquired a really large company that doubled the size of the business. So we did all the work to integrate the companies. The company was in Canada, it was in, like banking and finance, where we were in insurance, it was completely different. And then a year later, they decided to sell off half of the company. Now it’s like, Alright, I’m out of here. Yeah, that was my sign to leave. So I started excelente at that point, and while I worked at iWave, I was running a vegan cookie company, which is like my, my first foray into entrepreneurship.
Curt Anderson 05:33
And the name of that company.
Jackie Hermes 05:35
It was called Sweet monkeys. I did not name it. Did I actually, we bought the, we bought the cookie recipes from a woman that lived in Buffalo, New York. So my, my now ex husband was like, Oh, I’m gonna go to school and get a master’s in entrepreneurship. And then like, a week later, he was like, I’m going to start a company. And I was like, okay, like, well, what kind of company? Oh, I found these cookie recipes that are for sale in Buffalo, New York, and I want to fly out there and get these recipes. And I was like, Okay, I guess we’re gonna start a cookie company is pretty much how all of that went.
So it was like for recipes. I remember putting the labels together in Microsoft Word, ordering Vistaprint, I still get the freaking Uline catalogs from like, 10 years ago. But I mean, it was a very scrappy little business. But it’s little known fact, I think outside of the food industry, how much licensing goes into it and how difficult it is to, like get licensed and the place that you want to do production and then either make it yourself or CO packet, have someone else produce it, get it distributed. even get them off the shelves within a grocery store. It’s a very complex business.
Damon Pistulka 06:51
Curt Anderson 06:53
So I look so man. This is a great start. We’re going, Man, I took Damon I told you this ain’t no party. Right? Adam? We’ve got our course Dan bigger Bonnie’s in the house. Happy Friday, guys. Dan says he got into recruiting as well. Yeah. And isn’t it funny how like, you know, your previous life or things that you think didn’t make sense. Also, like later in life, you’re like, Oh, okay. That’s why I got into recruiting because now you’ve built this incredible company.
Again, guys, if you’re just chiming in, we have Jackie Hermus, the founder and CEO of excel at so talk, Jackie, you share a little bit. So Z wave, you had some things going on big purchases you shared. But prior to that, I mean, because you could have said, Hey, I’m out of here, I’m gonna go find another job, right? There’s tons of other opportunities that you could have gone to was entrepreneurship, just kind of a burning desire. And so that was a kind of a launching pad an excuse to get into entrepreneurship or share a little bit like what was that journey like at that transition?
Jackie Hermes 07:51
It really wasn’t a desire at all. And like, not even a thought, in my mind. I feel like everyone that’s an entrepreneur looks back. And they’re like, I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was three years old, when I was selling stuff to my friends, and I was hacking lemonade on the corner, and I did all those things, but I didn’t really see it. In my future. My parents are like, I’m the first person, my family that went to college, and they were very much like, go to college, go get a I had a double major in finance once upon a time, and I ended up dropping it because I hated it.
My parents were like, finance is stability, you know, and they and then I got my MBA, they were like, go find a good company and climb the ladder. And I was totally set to do that. And then I was actually leaving Z wave and I was applying for jobs.
And then a few of those jobs that I applied for, responded and said, you know, we’re looking locally, I was playing in like New York, I lived in Milwaukee, but do you want to freelance and I was like, No, not really. I mean, freelancing is can be very hard. It can be hard to get jobs, it can be hard to collect money, price yourself appropriately. So I started freelancing, and I was able to build a little business kind of on the side while I was still working at iWave and still running that cookie company. Oh, no, it is a busy time. Yeah,
Damon Pistulka 09:13
no doubt no doubt. Yeah.
Curt Anderson 09:14
Busy busy person. So Val gal. Happy Friday. Thanks for joining us Hey, Jackie. So let’s let’s go from there so you
Damon Pistulka 09:21
still get third Gail still talks about the Uline catalogs they don’t give up they don’t they pick oh yeah waste it is they go right in the recycle bin. And I they don’t even get opened and yeah,
Curt Anderson 09:36
anyway, hurting the environment. So art. So Jackie so let’s take a deep dive so big changes iWave started looking at different jobs, start pickup some side gigs, a little side hustles the term today right? I weren’t calling it back then. But talk about like why a marketing company? How did you know different you know yet cookie thing going on? What inspired you to kick off a marketing firm?
Jackie Hermes 10:01
Okay, I’m not gonna lie, I kind of hated running the cookie company, because it was hard. It was like hoisting up a tent on the weekend to sell a $5 bag of cookies. And then you got no sleep because you had to make all these cookies the night before. And people come by, and they taste them. And they’re like, Oh, this is gross. And I’m like, What did you just say, like, I suppose slaving over those cookies at midnight.
Well, my one year old son is running around, crashing things. I kind of like blocked that part of my life out to be honest. But we’ll get away from the day job at that time was running the marketing permanent sine wave, which is a b2b software company. So I basically went to start a consultancy based on my own skills, I actually had negotiated a four day work week at that point, where I was staying at home on Fridays with my son, so I was working like 410 hour days. And I was staying at home on Fridays, then I ended up sending him to daycare on Friday, so I can pull the business on the side.
I don’t know that I ever really communicated that though. I did tell them that I was building a business because that was a policy, and I certainly didn’t want to get fired. Too early. Anyway. Um, so I mean, yeah, I built a business based on my own skills. And I started it because I wanted flexibility. You know, it was like a mom for the first time and I wanted to be able to work at home, which was not a thing at that point. It was like, business casual, everyday report to the office type situation. Yeah. I don’t know that it necessarily gave me all the flexibility and stuff that I was looking for as I built the company, but at the beginning, it definitely did.
Curt Anderson 11:33
Yeah. And the thing is, when you so you know, let’s really put ourselves in Jackie shoes at that time, because you share the story like, oh, man, that’s cool jacket, you know, cookie company, very challenging, daunting sounds, you know, newborn Well, time job, and now you’re trying to get this side hustle off the ground and in China, you know, hey, you know, I, you know, did you have a vision like, Hey, I’m this is, this is it? I’m going to build a really nice company. Like, do you remember that? Trent? The tipping point of like, I’m going all in on this? You know, can you remember that point?
Jackie Hermes 12:04
Yeah, I basically got busy enough that I couldn’t do it all well, anymore. I couldn’t work full time and be a good mom and do my side hustle, which was like, I was probably doing 2530 hours a week on the side. And so I was like, Alright, I’m gonna quit. And, and I did and then right after I did that, it was like, within two weeks, my main client cancelled their contract. Oh, no. Yeah. rough life. Oh, great. Go ahead, Damon,
Damon Pistulka 12:36
those kinds of things. And you’ve been in this more than a few days anyway. And those kind of things just happen in business. They do. You know, you’ve been in nine years in excel at and you know, that’s happened before and again, but that the way that the timing, it almost seems like the timing of things happened like that just to test yet. Yeah, that’s all they do. They’re there to test you. And when you look back on those things, usually made it through just fine. But when it happens, you’re just like, oh, girl is gonna send the room for a vault. It evolved for a few minutes ago. What?
Jackie Hermes 13:11
It was very stressful. I actually. So I kept my full time job until we were able to close on this duplex that we were buying because we were trying to really lower living costs. Yeah. And we finally closed on the duplex. I put in my two week notice. And then that camp client cancelled and I was like, Oh, we’re in trouble.
Curt Anderson 13:30
Yeah. JACKIE, when you did when you made that decision to take that leap? Can you do remember the emotions you know, thrilled, scary, relieved, like what was going through your mind kind of like leaving corporate and taking that plunge?
Jackie Hermes 13:43
I was relieved to leave corporate because I was ready, at least to be done at that company. I had been there for like five years. And I was like, I’m ready for my next step. I don’t think I knew I left for sure didn’t know what I was getting myself into at all. I was excited. And then suddenly, I was like, oh, no, I was applying for bartending jobs, like in a little town around the corner so that hopefully no one would see me so I wouldn’t have to tell people I was feeling in my mind at entrepreneurship. So yeah, it was scary. It was scary, for sure. And it still is, honestly. Yeah.
Damon Pistulka 14:17
You know, the cool. The cool part about that is, is I get to talk to a lot of business owners that have started their own businesses. And, you know, you’ll hear about Scott Lee’s Act is the guy I know, out on the East Coast that has a landscaping company, successful effect.
Now, he talks about when I started my landscaping company, I slept I lived in my mom and dad’s house in their basement. I drove an old pickup you know, and bla bla bla bla bla and, and, you know, he got a four year degree in producing for landscaping, you know, it’s not it’s just really, you know, education, whatever that the entrepreneurial story is, you’re probably gonna have some struggles in the beginning to go and it’s great to hear yours. It’s not that you had to go through it.
Curt Anderson 15:00
Yes, mom and dad’s basement so, so absolute so again Damon being a growth and exit strategy specialists, we do all sorts of training we’re constantly preaching niche down niche down, we even have a saying we’d like to say, niche down until it hurts, okay? niche down till it hurts. So many entrepreneurs, especially when you’re young, starving entrepreneur, you’re going to take in anybody that’s waving a credit card or a check, right? And kind of in you find yourself navigating into you know, outside of your strike zone outside of your wheelhouse. Let’s now we’re ready. Let’s take a deep dive into your company.
You’re so you specialize b2b marketing for SaaS companies. Now you could attend your marketing guru and I do use your I know, you’re very humble, very modest. You are a pioneer with social media, you are really at the early stages, was a wave hitting some, you know, new practices, what have you, especially when the economy was in a tough period? So why did you pick so again, you know, I understand like was a wave that was kind of your lane, but talk about the journey as you were getting into marketing? How like your youth, how you found your folks, your peeps, that really resonated to build your company, why did you go that b2b SaaS direction?
Jackie Hermes 16:09
I mean, the simple answer is because it’s what I knew. But I also did not turn down a lot of work at the beginning. We worked with like a taxidermy company, I know nothing about taxidermy, not a thing, I actually weirdly enough, I must still be in there Google Analytics, and I just got a notification for the day. And I was like, Oh, my God, if we did that, it was like, well, we need money.
So we’re gonna take money, but it never really, it never really turned out the way that I thought it would like, at the end of the day, every time we took money, because we needed it from someone that was kind of mature, or, you know, a company that we didn’t really know what was going on, you know, or didn’t know the industry, it ended up ending poorly, or we couldn’t work up to, you know, the standard that it should have been for someone who knows the industry, or, you know, like, we have to part ways with a client and give them a refund of some kind, because we don’t like how they’re treating our team.
It. It’s never worth it. Anytime you take money because you desperately need it. I feel like it’s never worked out for me.
Curt Anderson 17:10
What? And that takes a while to have the discipline to reach that point. I mean, that’s really reaching a level of success when you can tell that customer and Daymond I know like you just interviewed Wesleyan Greer the other night Wesleyan on your live show, she talked about she turned on a significant five-figure client, because it wasn’t a good fit. So Jackie, and again, as a young entrepreneur, it really did it take a lot of discipline to be able to say no, you know, really stay focused on who you want to sing to
Jackie Hermes 17:37
even still say we’re nine years in and my salesperson will be like, Yeah, this client, that’s pretty close. No, no, no, no, because the thing is now because I have to answer to everyone. Now, if we bring in a client, that is not who I say we’re going to bring in, or like we have minimum spends monthly. If we bring in a client that is under that, that everyone’s like, I thought you said we had minimums, I thought you said we had a target market and I don’t want to be a liar, basically, to my team. And I, my word is my bond, and I take it very seriously. So now it’s great, because I have like, okay, you know, there’s a system in place where I can say no, but it still happens.
Curt Anderson 18:20
Wow, man, man was Zack, good,
Damon Pistulka 18:23
man. And you know, what happens, I think is as much as anything as is with our business. It’s really about the core values of the customer. Because you mentioned a couple things there, the way they treat that your people the way they treat their own people. And, and the expectations of results. All those kinds of things are really key. And I think when it comes down to it, it is the their core values and your core values don’t match. That’s that’s a huge thing for us, because, and that’s why I think as you’re going forward, you take more time getting to know those customers before you say yes,
Jackie Hermes 18:58
guys. And now in a sales process. We’re not just looking at demographics like they’re not just a b2b software company in a certain industry of a certain size that’s raised a certain amount of money. It’s also like, who are the stakeholders? Who are we going to be talking to what are they like in the sales process?
Do? Do they meet the standards of how we want to be treated, we just hit a lot of client goals that got a new stakeholder in and he was not a nice person to our team. And it’s like, I’m sure he was under stress. And I’m sure there are a lot of factors going on. But at the end of the day, if you’re not treating people appropriately, those people are going to leave my team it’s going to be even more painful for me than it is to lose the money. Yeah, those are tough decisions to make. Definitely
Curt Anderson 19:41
such incredible wisdom here. We have some great comments coming in Damon done. Yeah, nine and the last is
Damon Pistulka 19:48
done some struggles. He’s an entrepreneur.
Curt Anderson 19:52
I know the story body’s making some man Jackie, I can’t tell you how much I respect and admire and again as a young entrepreneur to have that discipline. Where’s your inspiration come from? Where have you put in this discipline on yourself? To, you know, be able to say no. Like, can you share that with other entrepreneurs like, Man, I have a tough time with that. Jackie, what advice do you like? Where did you pick this up? In any advice for folks that do have that challenge?
Jackie Hermes 20:18
I’ve always been pretty good at saying no, and even, like, maybe too good at the beginning of my career where I was not super tactful. Like I always, I’ve always been a very opinionated person, like, since I was born. And now my son is exactly like that. And I’m like, okay, hey, thanks, Dennis. I know, I’m like, this is going to serve you when you get older. I know, it’s good, but it’s really annoying.
But, I mean, so I’ve been like that since I was younger. And I’ve had to learn how to communicate in a way that people can hear the things that I’m saying, or the feedback or the reasons why. And just like I said, be a little more careful. I went to a wedding like, two years ago with a bunch of guys that I went to college with. And they were like, you’re really scary in college. And I was like, No, it’s not really what I wanted to hear. I’m sorry for my behavior all those years ago.
Curt Anderson 21:12
So get over it. You know, us guys, you know how fragile our egos are so don’t know we’re just so delicate, you know? Yeah, it’s
Jackie Hermes 21:20
very funny. There’s all those all the men that lived in my dorm and this is not what I expected tonight, but it’s okay. I guess I deserve it
Curt Anderson 21:29
movie Intimidator back then for these poor guys that were probably single. And so that’s a whole nother a whole nother story. So again, too, you are getting very humble very modest. You are a LinkedIn influencer Daymond he’s a LinkedIn influencer, but he doesn’t admit it. But you’re doing an amazing job on LinkedIn, you have a great story where like you really had virtually little to no presence on LinkedIn. And a dear friend of yours really kind of kicking and screaming?
Convinced you you were kicking and screaming convinced you to get on the LinkedIn share? Could you take a deep dive into like, you know, how, what was that transformation? You decide to get on LinkedIn and share your journey there?
Jackie Hermes 22:09
Yes, for sure. So I bet some people that are listening know Quinton alums, and I just love the heck out of that guy. He was one of my first employees. So I got an office like two years into Excel it and it was like 300 square feet. And it had a little like Office and a glass like wall and a table outside. And he would sit at that table in this tiny little office. And like write blogs for me and do other things. Then he ended up he was one of the earliest people that were on LinkedIn as when the video platform was launched, he saw the opportunity, he got on it right away. And I saw what he was doing. And I was like, Cool, not for me.
Like I really I didn’t want to do it. And he was and he was kept trying to convince me like, you have a story to tell. I really think you have something to say I think you could be really successful here. You should get on LinkedIn. And I was like, No, I really don’t want to I for like six months, which I should have done it earlier. I told him no. And then finally he said, Well, what if we just shoot a couple of videos for my LinkedIn? And I was like, okay, that like that I will do. And he later told me that the videos were horrible, and he never posted them.
Which I didn’t I didn’t even realize, honestly. It’s he’s he loves to talk about that stuff. But I think that made me understand like, oh, I can get in front of the camera. And it’s not as scary as I thought it was going to be. And maybe I do have something to say. And so I started working with him just I mean, he did a lot of like, here are the topics I think you should talk about. And he had a professional video company where they would shoot everything and so it was really good because they held me very accountable. Otherwise, I never would have done it. I I think the fear the fear level was too high. But I’m glad I did
Curt Anderson 23:59
that. That was awesome. And I was following you know, I was a follower back then I think was like, like Shay robot, if I’m seeing her name right and not you Q Damon if you know Q like he’s he had that trademark hat that he would always were and you guys were early adopters to LinkedIn with video and just doing a great job. We’re like, you know, the rest of LinkedIn universe was kind of like, man, you know, what are these people in Milwaukee doing here? What’s going on?
And so you really started blowing it up. So let’s talk business. You share like and guys check out Jackie’s website you have and we’re going to talk about this. You have an amazing, incredible website. What’s fascinating, Damon Knight we talked about, you know, there’s a lot of marketers out there we come you know, call it you know, hey, we’re the cobblers kids with no shoes.
We’re so busy focusing on clients that their website isn’t really where they want it to be. You have an amazing, incredible website, all sorts of great information we’re going to share about that. But on your website, you talked about how LinkedIn really transformed and escalated your business. Can you just so for any of our entrepreneurs out there or maybe aspiring entrepreneurs, and they’re not sure where to go, what is LinkedIn done for you, and how valuable is event for growth have accelerated over the years, it just
Jackie Hermes 25:09
massively increased our audience. And I mean, when you are in marketing, the the math is kind of simple, you have to have awareness, and you have to have eyeballs for anyone to be interested in your product or service, to get those few people eventually through to a sale. And we were a small, tiny little marketing agency of like four or five people in Milwaukee that we didn’t have an audience and we couldn’t get, it was really hard to stand out. When you’re in a sea of marketing agencies.
There’s just so freaking many of them. And a lot of them say they do the same things. You know, everyone’s like, Oh, we’re the best, we’re the most creative, we are the highest quality. And it’s like, okay, how do you stand apart? And personal branding? Really? I mean, I don’t, there’s no surprise to me that when I started growing an audience on LinkedIn, that’s when my company started growing. And if you’re thinking about starting a business, now is the time to get started on those platforms, because it’s so much easier to launch something when you already have relationships and a community built.
Curt Anderson 26:12
That’s fantastic. And so we were talking about this a little bit yesterday, you know, can you share, so again, so for somebody out there relatively newer on LinkedIn, you know, you’re building your audience, you’re starting to get a little bit of traction. Did you like Did it hit you were like, This is really working. Like this is like, I’m starting to get some traction. I’m getting, you know, on landing a lot of followers, there’s interaction, there’s engagement, I land a lead, I close a sale. You know, was there a turning point there on your LinkedIn journey? Where you’re like, I’m quadrupling down on this. Do you remember that, like a turning point there?
Jackie Hermes 26:43
I think I was pretty lucky at the beginning because the video platform was so new. And not a lot of people were doing it. And they were favoring videos in the LinkedIn algorithm. People even said at the time that they didn’t think there was an algorithm and they were like LinkedIn, people that sit in a room and just boost posts. Who knows? Who knows who that is, but right, it’s like polls right now.
That’s what videos we’re doing. So if you had the guts to turn on the camera and talk to a video you are getting, I mean, it was a lot easier to rack up views at that time. But I mean, I think that discounts to a lot of the hard work that we did to consistently produce content. I mean, I’ve been posting three, four or five times a week for like three years now, which takes a lot of dedication. So I mean, it was it was pretty early that I was like oh, there’s something here this makes sense. I think I told you yesterday now he was trying to convince me of the same on tick tock and I’m like, tick tock
Curt Anderson 27:45
you know, my cave Q’s giving you advice, man, I would take it you know, he was with a LinkedIn right Daymond did you have something?
Damon Pistulka 27:52
Yeah, that that I agree with him. I’m starting to look at tick tock now and look at me how I don’t need to be on tick tock. But you see these people doing it? And and you see the way they’re using it. You look at people like Ira Bowman he’s given some LinkedIn tips on tick tock these short videos, I really do it. And we’ve got a tick tok legend on here with Bonnie, Bonnie. You got to look at their go lids. I mean, like talking like 10s of millions of views on tick tok, she’s really and it’s a product company. And you know, it’s interesting how it’s being used as you bring it up. So it’s right.
Jackie Hermes 28:27
I what I see on tick tock is my daughter and her friends, you know, like posting their videos, and I’ve seen a lot of funny things on Yeah, I don’t spend that much time on it. But I’m like, okay, I get it. There’s a case for this. We started on Tik Tok, like, a few months ago, I think we’re up to like 15,000 followers, which Q is like, Okay, you have to keep going with this. Now he’s holding me accountable on a new platform. It’s great. I love it.
Curt Anderson 28:51
Well, that’s awesome. And the thing is, as you were really knocking the ball out of the park from LinkedIn and a marketing standpoint, again, Cobblers, kids no shoes example. You have to keep delivering to your customers, to your clients. And so I mean, it’s one thing like, Hey, I’m attracting people, but you’ve really done an amazing job in the ballpark. Now you’re up to how many employees now are so many. So you know, what a great success. I want to hit on pricing. If you don’t mind, I want to I really love to go on pricing.
So again, guys, I strongly encourage you welcome you connect or follow. I know your 90 some 1000 followers maybe have so either drop a connection, or more importantly, follow Jackie on LinkedIn, check out her website, but I absolutely love when a company puts their prices rate out on their website. A lot of people are very hesitant you know, man, what if my competitor see it? What if this what if that that I have been dying to ask you what was a collective decision where you decided, You know what, we’re just putting it out there and I’d love to hear about the decision and what it’s done for you by having that out there.
Jackie Hermes 29:57
The decision was, for me it was Easy because it was like one of those things that we can do to differentiate ourselves because no agencies publish their pricing. I actually did a presentation now a couple years ago, because we started publishing our pricing maybe four or five years ago. So it was a while ago, and I pulled up our first ever pricing page, which our first package was like $2,000 a month.
And like, the all the packages, they were live for, like six months while we were trying to sell these packages, and I didn’t really have anyone read my work or anything. And someone looked at it and was like, all these packages sound the same? Like, Well, no wonder people are confused. So it was an iterative process for sure. We were just young, scrappy startup. But now, I mean, it’s gone through a lot of iterations over time. Like we used to have more information about what you get and the deliverables. But now as the prices get higher, everything gets super customized. So no, it’s still iterating. Today, I think we’re still changing it right now,
Curt Anderson 30:57
to the end. What was the response? Was there any was there anything negative to like, go in that direction? Like putting your pricing out there? Is it like,
Jackie Hermes 31:06
at the beginning, I think we short sold ourselves because we weren’t charging enough. And that is, I think that’s the thing that people often struggle with in business is, what am I worth? And can I really charge this amount per hour, I think I started out like $50 an hour when I was consulting, we’ve had one client since the beginning that we’ve had to like, ratchet them up every single year, like, Okay, you have to pay a little bit more now. Like we’re delivering a lot more. We’re meeting all your goals. Clearly, they’re still with us. But it’s not easy to get to what you’re actually worth when you start too low.
Curt Anderson 31:42
Right? Well, I give you credit. And I think a lot of folks don’t do that. I absolutely I love and admire that you’ve chosen to go that route. So again, check out Jackie’s website. Alright, so let’s go. Oh, man, we have so much more to cover. Yes. So I want to talk about your you have a great podcast, and you’ve posted about it. Like, again, like you keep you’re comfortable getting uncomfortable. If I’m understanding is that an accurate statement in some capacity.
Jackie Hermes 32:09
I think I still go kicking and screaming into a lot of these things. So I wouldn’t say I’m super comfortable with it. But I’m when I’m not uncomfortable. When I am comfortable. We don’t need to delve double negative in that sentence. When I’m comfortable, then I’m like, what else should I be doing right now even less than is talking to my husband, because we fought use Foster and two of our children we adopted, and I was talking to him and I was like, Maybe we should start fostering again. Like, as soon as I get comfortable, it’s like, that’s, that’s fine, you know, the next thing that we need to do, so I’m not totally comfortable with it, but I am constantly driven to be like making those changes.
Curt Anderson 32:49
Well, you certainly seem like a natural. So and again, Jackie has three wonderful, young children. And you know, and God bless you for fostering, you know, so for the foster parents out there, what a role model you are there. And you know, God bless all of our folks that take on children. So good for you there. Let’s dig into your podcast. So the art of entrepreneurship. I love the name. Yeah, I just can’t believe that was even available. So good for you either, right? What a phenomenal name that word. So where’d the name come from? And what was the inspiration for you with your podcast? Where are we going here?
Jackie Hermes 33:23
So I wanted to start a podcast for years. And this is another thing that I was like, I don’t have time, I don’t have any clue what I’m doing. How am I going to consistently put out content? I’m not doing this? Well, finally, I was like, Okay, I really, it’s time and I have a little bit of, you know, a little bit of bandwidth. So I ended up signing a contract with a while queue helped consult on it, and then a contact or a producer named Elzie. And I was like, okay, if I’m going to actually do this, I need to put some money into it. Because once I invest, I’ll go do the thing. But otherwise, I could have just kept it to myself, and I never would have launched anything.
So where did the name come from? It was a guy who was on my team. I wanted it to be called like, the unemployable entrepreneur or something. And everyone was like, That’s a mouthful. That’s way too long. No. And yeah, my team, my team brainstormed, and they came back with that as one of them. And I was like, Whoa, this is available. And there are some episodes that are of people that are called The Art of entrepreneurship, but no real podcasts that I could find. There was like one that used to be posted on Facebook that I saw that wasn’t it looked like it was inactive as of a couple years ago. And I was like alright, well. Let’s do this.
Curt Anderson 34:42
That is awesome. So I caught it. I caught episode. You’re talking with a gentleman about his entrepreneurship for everybody. And it was a great conversation. So So again, you guys you want to check out Jackie’s podcast couple comments here. Daymond. So Bonnie asked a question. Yeah. Is Jackie do you work with companies on E commerce? Sales and Marketing on social are strictly b2b SaaS,
Jackie Hermes 35:04
strictly b2b software,
Curt Anderson 35:06
man look Oh, my god the discipline here is yes. I read it I’m like, I you know what Jake man I do coach we need Yeah. JACKIE for guys you’re great at what you do some coaching did I see coaching on your LinkedIn profile anywhere? Do you do coaching?
Jackie Hermes 35:24
No, I thought about it but I don’t know if we have enough going on right now.
Curt Anderson 35:31
Yeah maybe the kids are in college right so I know John been fighting the flu this guy he’s got the flu this week. Sorry, buddy. I’m here but worried about being young. Got your love already? Yeah, no, no, no, we’re not yelling. I’ll just nothing but love here. So we’ve got Jackie in the house. So Jake.
Jackie Hermes 35:48
Also, by the way, John had the flu like 10 days ago, and it was
Damon Pistulka 35:53
rough. Oh, that’s a John has to heal better.
Curt Anderson 35:56
Yes. Terrible. It was awful. So I Jackie entrepreneurs out there, you’ve built this incredible 20 person marketing firm COVID not a fun year for anybody you threw it to? Can you share? Like what was COVID? Like to you? Where’s the company? Now share a little bit on your journey. The past two years,
Jackie Hermes 36:15
we lost almost 40% of our business in like the first two weeks of COVID. Yeah. Which was not fun. And we ended up keeping everyone on our team. But we furloughed the whole team to its everyone is working 80% which is a 20% for low right? I usually say 80% for low. That’s not correct. So everyone is working, I don’t know, 32 hours a week. And we were like, alright, well, some people have more work than others. And I’m sure all the managers and whatever, we’re still working full time. But like, let’s take this across the board. And then we’re all gonna bust our butts to get the business back to where it is.
So are where it was. And we did I mean, we looked at the way that we were selling, we went back to all the deals that we had recently lost. We weren’t doing any project work at the time, we were just doing retainers, and we were like, Alright, we’re gonna lower our minimums, we’re going to take them project work, like whatever it takes to get cash in the door. And that’s what we did. Within three months, we were back to where we started. We brought everyone back full time. And that’s the story.
It was kind of, I don’t know, my entire management team is like, alright, crisis. What do we do? Like everyone was very calm. And I was like, alright, well, actually, I was interviewing someone yesterday. And she was like, did you have an emergency response plan? And I was like, no, no, no, no, don’t have one.
Curt Anderson 37:38
Yeah, you seem you seem like you’re pretty even keeled now. So while Hey, Congratulations on surviving. And, you know, if you guys are just joining us, please check out Jackie on LinkedIn, follow her you want to check out her website, you have a great video, kind of sharing your story about through COVID. And I commend you and you know, COVID hasn’t been easy for anybody, everybody. Our entrepreneurs are just such an inspiration heroes to come through this fighting now on your team. I know one of your key employees. You have a chief Java Marketing Officer, did I see this do remarketing? Is it Oliver? Did I can you tell her on your team
Jackie Hermes 38:17
that he’s our VP of creatives dogs so when we used to be an office, he would come to the office all the time, even though we were definitely not supposed to have dogs in office. And I think he was there until he one day tried to bite me Oh, man. Well maybe not a good idea. Maybe this is exactly why our landlord said no dogs but it was like there’s no dogs allowed but I do love little non chatting dogs wink and it was like, I’m confused. So we dog in anyway. Yeah.
Curt Anderson 38:47
Well, that’s awesome. Damon just landed a puppy Odin. He’s got to come on the show, dude. Like,
Damon Pistulka 38:52
Oh, yeah. When I can hold him that. Yeah, I don’t
Curt Anderson 38:55
know if you guys heard my Rottweiler was going off about five minutes ago. So I don’t know if you heard that. So ani has another question. Second part, for your vast expertise. Anyone you particularly love in that space?
Jackie Hermes 39:09
In E commerce, sales and marketing? Off the top of my head? No, but follow up with me. And I’m sure I can find a good referral for you. Absolutely.
Curt Anderson 39:17
You guys will have plenty to discuss. So Jackie, I know you’re super busy. We’re gonna be we’re coming into time. We’ll be winding down here. new entrepreneurs out there. What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs? Whether they’re starting a product based business service based like yourself? What advice would you share for any new entrepreneurs out there?
Jackie Hermes 39:37
I would say it’s really important to do the research upfront and talk to the people and that’s very scary and people really don’t like to do it. I’ve seen full companies that were launched just based on an idea that weren’t based on like, you know, stakeholder interviews or sales interviews or calls or whatever.
So doing all of that research tremely important. And then once you get to that point, you have to take action. I’ve also talked to people that have been thinking about starting a company for five years. And it’s like, do it or don’t at this point, you know, I think that you’ll never know if it’s for you, or if you’re going to be successful at it until you try. So you might as well go out and start trying to talk to people and sell to them and see what happens.
Curt Anderson 40:24
That’s right, Jackie. And Bonnie says, very support system. And yeah, that’s what’s great about aligning yourself with a company like Jackie’s is you know, so many entrepreneurs feel like they’re on their own, you know, in a silo. And David Knight, you know, you have guys like Damon, you have consultants out there you have, we work with a lot of the MEPs manufacturing, extension partnerships, small business development centers, so there’s all sorts of resources, and then align yourself with a company like exibility, that can really take it to the next level. Jackie, as we close out where, what’s in store for you?
What’s the future hold? What’s 2022 look like? Goals? Where’s the world? Where are you? You’re conquering the world? Where are you going to be in a year from now? How’s that
Jackie Hermes 41:07
you have a very large revenue goal this year, and I am hiring for a key position with an agency which I’m really excited about getting the right person in to help us get there and set us up for even more success, which I’m pumped about. Oh, God, what else? I don’t know. I’m gonna keep publishing the podcast and see what else piques my interest this year. I feel like I always have a new project. Check with me in a few
Curt Anderson 41:34
months. Look, how about a book Jack? Do you have a book and you everybody has a book in them? You know, not to throw more on your plate, but maybe keep that in the back your mind? I think you’d have a pretty good story to tell.
Jackie Hermes 41:44
So that’s friend of mine just posted on Instagram. She’s like starting a new project. And I was like, what is it and she said she’s writing a second book. And I was like, I don’t even know how you got through a first one. Yeah, I process everything that goes in again. That’s like the podcast me it’s like, I don’t understand how to do it.
Curt Anderson 42:01
You know what have to talk. It’s, you know, like, yeah, if I can write a book, and anybody can write a book, so I will talk but and I’ll be your biggest fan on getting that book launch. So guys, let’s wrap up. It’s we’re coming into the weekend. So Jackie, I want to thank you. You are a gift. You’re a blessing. You are an inspiration. Damon, what do I always say Man, we are proud girl dads and someone like you Jackie is just you’re out there relentless, putting yourself out there. And we talked yesterday like when you were really kicking off your LinkedIn journey, like you got you became very vulnerable.
Put yourself out there. And you know, a lot of us, you know, maybe myself included, hey, we don’t want to, you know, talk about you know, some vulnerabilities or like, hey, everything’s all perfect. You’ve really put yourself out there and we really admire you for that. So thank you. Yeah, yeah. Congratulations to you, your team, your family. We wish you just Monster Monster success for 2022 You have huge fans who are rooting you on guys. If you’re a SaaS company, Jackie’s very narrow man. She’s staying in her lane. If you are a SaaS company here she is the person to contact and so guys go out have an amazing, incredible weekend. Jackie. Thank you, Damon. Take us away, brother.
Damon Pistulka 43:14
All right. Well, thanks, Jackie. It was awesome having you here. And man, it was that learning from you today. It was just been incredible. Thank you so much. Thanks. Thanks to all the guests to it just showing up in the comments and during the week. Appreciate you so much. And have a great weekend. As Kurt says, Thanks so much everyone.
Curt Anderson 43:36
Jackie Hang on one second.