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Digital Marketing Success: Insights from CEO and Army Veteran

In Conversation with Cash Miller

For this episode of E-coffee with Experts, Matt Fraser interviewed a very special guest, Cash Miller, the president and CEO of Titan Digital, a full-service digital marketing agency headquartered in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Cash generously offered his invaluable insights and expertise in the realm of digital marketing. His unique perspective, enriched by his years of military service, added an extra layer of depth to the discussion, offering listeners a fresh take on achieving success in this rapidly-evolving field.
Watch the episode now!

We need to know how to sell if we’re business owners. But also, we need to know the perspective of the business owner.

Cash Miller
The president and CEO of Titan Digital

Hello everyone. Welcome to this episode of E-Coffee with Experts. I’m your host, Matt Fraser, and on today’s show, I have with me a very special guest, Cash Miller. Cash is the president and CEO of Titan Digital, a full-service digital marketing agency headquartered in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. With an impressive educational background and military service, as a US Army veteran, Cash leverages his expertise in web design, SEO, social media marketing, and more to help businesses of all sizes expand their online presence and reach new markets. Today, he’ll be sharing his insights and expertise on digital marketing success. Cash, thank you so much for being here. Welcome to the show.

Thank you.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started in digital marketing?

Sure. Yeah, my background starts in like 2007, as you mentioned, I’m a U.S. Army vet and I’ve always been like a small business owner. I tell people like, I’ve only got two things in my life: I need to run businesses or I’ve been in the military. And, prior to what was my second enlistment in the military, in the Army, I had run a small business in a different field, totally unrelated and stuff, but I got burned out and I decided that I didn’t want to do it anymore and I needed to make a living. So, I went back to the military family to support and stuff, but at the time, I was really burnt out. I said I’m never going to do this again. I just can’t do it. I’ll make a career out of the army. But I got the edge really quick, I was like 2007 and I’m like, okay, well, I can do the army thing, but I still had that entrepreneurial itch that I had to scratch. So, I decided to go. It’s like, hey, what are people doing online and stuff? And I’m seeing like there’s all sorts of magazines and e-zine and things like that. I said, well, why don’t I start putting up content online and I’ll tell people all the mistakes I made so that they don’t make the same mistakes when they’re running.

Oh yeah.

And, well, I had to do that. I had to build my first website. I was just doing this in my spare time and stuff and I’d build it out and eventually, I got this thing built out and I realized quickly that I didn’t want to write all the content. So, I needed sources of content. I actually started contacting business coaches. I would see them online and they have content and I’m like, okay, well how about can I use your content? I would contact them, request permission to republish and stuff, and generally, I’d be able to get it and whatnot. And I’m like, okay, I’ve got a website, I’ve got content now how do I actually get traffic? I did this in my spare time and I’m an Iraq and Afghanistan vet and stuff. So, going to those places, you have downtime. So, I work on this on the side to get traffic, and back then, you know, everybody was self-taught, right?

Yeah.

There were courses of all sorts like online people pay for this, try that. I tried affiliate courses, I tried everything I could think of to learn all I could about SEO. And over time, over the 4 years that I spent in the military, I got to the end and I had been building this thing up. I’d gotten my traffic up and stuff. I’d learned everything. I had some of the business coaches that I was dealing with started asking me about getting them traffic to their sites and they were willing to pay me to do it. They’re willing to pay me. My first ever real client was actually a mergers and acquisitions account. The company dealt with the M&A field and I would run in pay-per-click ads for them. They had no clue at the time that I was running their paid ads on Google from Afghanistan. So, it wasn’t like they were paying me to manage the ads and stuff. But I got to the end of my enlistment and I got a choice. I can either re-enlist and stay and really make it that career. And at that point, I’m like, I can’t do it anymore. I wonder if I could do this SEO thing and make a living at it. And I decided, yeah, I’m willing to give it a shot again. I know a great deal about this. I think I can do it. I got people that are willing to pay me and so I started the company.

Okay. So, this is a very fascinating case. What was the difference between the first time you started and your reinvigoration? Like, what was the first business industry that you were trying to start?

Well, the first one was actually an upholstery business. I took over from my father. I got out of the military in 1998. Originally, I did a three-year stint. I was burnt out at the time in the military part and he said, hey, you to take over. I don’t want to do this anymore. But it had an income and I lived in Las Vegas, Nevada. So, I had a lot of restaurant clients. I worked with commercial accounts primarily, and I grew that and made about $1,000,000 a year or so. But the field itself was tough. It was totally unrelated but I learned a ton but I couldn’t take it anymore. I mean, I was working 16 hours a day. Every day, and going on Saturdays, going on Sundays. Eventually, I was so burned out and you are at a point like that, you’re like, I just don’t want to run a business, period. It’s so hard. That was something I took over versus this something I’m starting from scratch. So, the part of the challenge was could I build it up? I did build the previous business up but it had a starting point. Here, I am the starting point.

You’re starting from scratch.

Yeah, I’m starting from scratch and stuff in a field that I’ve been learning for the last four years and stuff, but I never work for an agency. I didn’t have that kind of exposure to it.

Yeah. It’s fascinating.

Yeah. It’s like, Can I make it work? Can I take it as a challenge? It’s like, you’re getting out and you’re trying to make plans and it’s like, What’s my runway? You know, how long can I survive before I gotta give it up? Because I’ve got bills to pay, it’s really taking a risk and jumping off the cliff when you start something like this, what’s the backup plan? A backup plan as I go work for somebody, which I don’t really want to do. And there’s a point where you have to decide, do you do it? You know, like when do you stop? It was like 2011. So, a dozen years later it’s worked out.

Well, that’s awesome. Have you always had the entrepreneurial itch? You mentioned that your father started that upholstery business. I’m assuming that was the one that was doing the restaurant industry in Las Vegas.

Yeah, we did a lot of that. We did a lot of restaurant seating and stuff, new manufacturing, and things. I’d build out restaurants, you know, somewhere like contract-type works. But yeah, it runs in the family. My father never worked for anybody. My uncle is really bad at working for people. I’ve got a cousin that’s not good at work. We’re just not really into working for anybody, we don’t like the restrictions.

Yeah, I think you’re either born an entrepreneur or you’re not. I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life. I’m not going to sit here and say that I have reached a level of success that I would have expected by now but I know that I can. There are certain reasons that I won’t go into this. This interview is not about me. It’s you. But you’re either an entrepreneur or not.

Yeah. I mean, I read a lot about companies and how they’re built up and stuff, but there are certain things being an entrepreneur that you have to understand. That is, if you are not good with risk, you’re not going to be a good entrepreneur.

No, you’re not.

You also got to be good with heartburn because there are going to be times when it’s extremely stressful, so it is not for everybody because it’s not. But if you are the person that wants to be able to make those decisions that can handle the risk, really wants to be able to push the ideas and stuff that you’re trying to pursue, whatever the business model is. And you like experimenting with new things and knowing that you are the ultimate decision maker and it’s going to be more for you. I would not fit in with the corporate structure.

Yeah, I know it’s hard when you’re an entrepreneur and if you try and get a job, it’s hard. That’s why every single job I’ve ever taken has always been a job that would help to accelerate my skills as an entrepreneur. For instance, I owned small cars for a period of time because I knew I needed to learn how to sell as an entrepreneur, as an entrepreneur, and what everybody needs to learn how to sell. It’s like, what better way to learn how to sell than to take a commission sales job? I was running my own business within a business. I wasn’t an employee. Certainly, I was acting as one, but it’s not a typical setup where you either have to make it in that industry or not. They don’t care. They don’t hold your hand. They don’t provide you with any training. They don’t provide you with any direction. You either sink or swim and it’s a very shark atmosphere, not one I really like anymore. But the point I’m trying to make is that taking a job improves your skills.

Well, I know a lot of agency owners that have a typical route. For a number of them they work for an agency, so they learn the business from the inside and when they decide, okay, I know what I need to know. I can do this on my own and that’s how a lot of advertising agencies and stuff, they’ll get their start traditionally. The connections and stuff help get them off the ground.

Yeah. How did you compensate for that then? Because I never worked for an agency either, I started my own agency. Sometimes I think I should have gone and worked for an agency. How did you figure it out? Like, for instance, the benefits of going working for an agency. Let’s talk about that for a minute. You learned the SOPs, you learn the business, you learned the negotiation, and you learned the packages to put together. There is so much you learn. I heard one person say, if you want to be good in business, don’t go work for a corporation. If you’re an entrepreneur, go work for a small business because then you learn multiple things in the business and not just one role. So, the point I’m trying to make is how did you navigate those waters of figuring out? How to put your packages together? How to organize everything, the organizational structure, rules, and responsibilities.

Yeah. If you work in an agency, you understand the layout and stuff.

Yeah.

You know, I think there are two parts to that. A lot of it is time, if you work in an agency, what you’re going to have the advantage. You’re spending your time learning the model. You could spend two or three years and then but that’s two or three years lost and then you hopefully come out more educated when you get a start. If you go straight into it and you don’t have that. There are advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is, well, I didn’t waste two or three years working for somebody else, right? But I didn’t complete that education either. So, I’m going to naturally make more mistakes. I’m going to have more trial and error. You’re going to have your learning curve a lot steeper, obviously but you also have an advantage to starting from scratch. You know, when you started, you wouldn’t have had preconceptions about how things should work. I have a manufacturing background and what I look at from an agency standpoint is to be able to make money and stuff. I look at the labor and stuff, I look at the processes or things we build in my agency. We build a lot of websites and stuff and I’m looking at how I make things more efficient. Whereas traditionally, if I work for a digital marketing agency or something or an advertising agency, they might not look at it that way. They want the best-paid work, and I want that too. Yeah, but you’re bringing a different perspective to it.

Yeah, that’s fascinating, because I interviewed a young man from Australia. And he is an award-winning SEO agency. But he was homeless at one point, doing SEO for free from people from a laptop computer in McDonald’s, free Wi-Fi, and Starbucks free Wi-Fi. His story is pretty amazing. It’s funny that you mention that because we were talking and he has a mentor who is in manufacturing and he does manufactuing for a lot of full license for Linda chocolates in all of Australia. He mentors this agency owner. He said, Matt, you would be very surprised at how much correlation there is between manufacturing and an agency, especially when it comes to SEO and web design, because we build links and we’re manufacturing links or manufacturing content and learning the business side of things. Do you think that your experience in running the upholstery company or helping to do that, gave you kind of a little bit of an edge or at least some qualifications to be able to run the agency that you’re running? And do you think that also your experience in the Army helps you further on top of that?

In a couple of ways. It did. The Army experiences. I’m a total believer in that military experience is good for people and stuff. If you take it the right way, you should try to better yourself but one of the things you see is a lot of the ways not to manage because of the fact that it’s not a democracy. Right?

No, it’s not.

And in business, truthfully, it’s not either. You can have an aspect of a democracy, but somebody has to make the ultimate decision. But what you learn is how to treat people and how not to, because in the military it can be very domineering with people in charge. And you sometimes see people in charge that should not be. But because of the inherent promotion system, and the way things are structured, you will end up seeing people in positions of responsibility that you might not get from others. People that have to work for them or disagree that they should even be there. It’s the nature of the system but I think from a leadership standpoint, I say you start to develop your own style. You say, what? You see what kind works and doesn’t work. You see you see good leaders and you see bad leaders and stuff and you kind of figure out what you want to be and, in any business, you need to have to be a leader, if you’re going to be an entrepreneur.

Oh, for sure.

That’s a leadership thing. In the case of running the other business. One of the things I learned as I had a couple of dozen staff and I dealt with a lot of large corporations. It taught me how to sell and what is a requirement. We need to know how to sell if we’re business owners. But also, it taught me the perspective of the business owner. When we’re working with clients, we work with a lot of like home service people, who have roofing companies and landscapers and stuff. Then we’ve worked with a lot of agencies and lawyers, so they’re all running their own businesses. And I think what it’s taught me is I can put myself in their shoes in what it might be like to run their type of business and the challenges they face. And so, if I’m understanding that better, I can better direct what we’re doing internally to benefit them. I think some of the traditional ones can be a little disconnected. If you’re going to grow up in an advertising agency and that’s what your career is, you’re like, I want this great creative and I want this.

You want to put out great work, but you forget who you’re doing it for. I think you know what their mission is and so I think that’s a benefit of it.

Yeah. You know, I see people start agencies that have no experience in the business. They just think they know about marketing. Some of them know about marketing and some of them don’t know about it. I’ll put it out there since everybody knows I come from the car industry. Everybody in their dog wanted to start a car dealer marketing agency because they looked at car dealers to market to dollar signs because the budgets are very large. I manage a million and a half to $2 million a year marketing budget for one dealership, a family-owned dealership. That’s a lot of money. And they look at it that way, but they’ve never sold a car in their life. And it’s fascinating. I see other people trying to position themselves as real estate experts and they’ve never sold a home in their life. So, it’s interesting you say that you have experience as a small business owner running the business that you ran to be able to put yourself in those shoes, and yet some of these other people are entrepreneurs who are trying to do this. For instance, if I could go back 20 years, I would have gone into real estate and I would have become a real estate or a mortgage broker, and then I would have used all my marketing skills to grow that agency or grow that mortgage brokerage or that real estate brokerage. I probably would start both, and it somehow exited them and then started a real estate marketing or mortgage marketing agency before. You know, Alex Formosa. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with who he is, but he wrote about $100 million offers and he, by the time he was 30, was worth a hundred million dollars. Now he has a YouTube channel where he teaches people how to scale. He used to be like if you’re not doing $10 million a year in RR. Don’t contact me. But if you are, contact me and fill out my application so we can get you to 100 million or whatever the number is. Now, these numbers are up to 30. He has experience. He started a gym and exited the gym and made tons of money off a gym and supplements all that. Now people want to hire him, but they can’t hire him unless they make him a partner. So, I’m just trying to say, that’s one way to go in regard to putting yourself in the shoes of these people. It probably is an advantage, just like the advantage that you had as a result of running the business. Would you agree or am I crazy?

No, I totally agree. For business owners and stuff like you do need to be able to put yourself in their shoes and even if you haven’t run a specific type of business, maybe the marketing agency that you start is your business. Okay. You need to take the time. I think if you’re in sales, if you’re the owner and stuff, depending on the client. Over the years, we’ve seen a number of manufacturing clients as an example. Now, I have a manufacturing background to some extent. We have a client that we have done marketing for and stuff. They make ball bearings. I’ve never manufactured ball bearings. So, when we signed him, I said, hey, I’d like to visit, show me what you actually do so I can understand it better. We’re working with a school right now. It’s a private school, but it’s not your typical private school. They do a lot of one-on-one teaching for students and stuff instead of a traditional classroom and you got 20 students or whatever. So, I can understand who their customer base is because I know some parents that can afford these kinds of services. But I needed to understand their model, why they did it and stuff, and all the other things that they’re offering and stuff. So, we went there, we visited, we sat down, we told them to show us how you operate. So, we have a better understanding of who your client is and you know what you’re trying to tell them. That’s like sales language, just last week I took a writer with me and we visited and we talked with some of the administrators and I said, look, I’m a parent and if I was here and you’re trying to convince me to enroll my kid in your school, what would you tell me? I want to know what convincing language they’re going to use. It’s one thing that I contact you, what do you say to me to get me to enroll my student with you? And so, and then I let him go and I just kept probing for different answers because I’m looking for a sales language. I’m looking for things I can use upfront, you know, in the content we do on the website because what they were getting right now wasn’t converting and they were new for us. They were leaving, who they were with and so I think the better you understand the business, if you take time out, it can apply across. If you work with a plumbing company and you’ve got another, they’re going to be fairly similar. They all want the same kind of audience, but you need to figure out the first one to be able to apply it to others.

That’s fascinating. So, in other words, you can compensate for not having actually worked in the industry by going and spending some time in the business. It makes so much sense because I had a friend who spent a week or two in a company up here called Simply Amish. They make handmade furniture and it’s really good handmade furniture. $8,000 for a bed frame. It’s hard wood carved. It’s phenomenal. Well, he went and spent, I think, a week or two weeks living with them to be able to write the sales letter that he wrote in order to generate business value. And so, yeah, it may not have been that long, but the point being, he did what you said and he was able to write such a much better sales letter. I remember the seller he wrote, It was phenomenal.

Right. The thing is, as I say, the more exposure you have to different businesses and industries, you’ll get better as a marketer and the different types of clienteles that you deal with. And I think on the flip side, stay away from what you don’t or don’t want to work with, you know, like I’ve got some exposure to e-commerce stuff, but I don’t even want to go near it. There are people that are going to be much better than I am to hire. Car dealerships, I typically don’t work with them. I’ve had some exposure and some of the people that are out there that are doing it are very good at it. I think that’s one of the things you try to find. So, know what you’re good at. Don’t try to be like everyone. Just because the client has money, it doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for you and you’re not going to be the best fit for them. Realize that limitation but then in the areas, you want to go in and get really good at it, and that means you need to understand everything about it.

Yeah. E-commerce is something I’ve shied away from, but for some reason, I always get pulled into it by certain projects and certain relationships, and I know a lot of agency owners that won’t touch it. And one of them said to me, you know, Matt, e-commerce is three times the amount of work and usually, clients don’t want to pay three times the amount of money.

Yes.

And I know one agency owner here in my local area. I won’t say the name of the business because that would be wrong. He was doing WooCommerce and other such projects. And he told me no matter how much money I charged. I always broke even or lost money, because I charged 40, 60, and $80,000, and project scope, and scope creep will always eat up the budget. I never made any money. We don’t even bother anymore with e-comm. We’re just Shopify consultants and that’s all we do. If anybody has the resources and someone who’s interested in Shopify or something like that to be able to do that, it’s an interesting business model. I had someone contact me who wanted to refer someone to me who was a start-up and wanted to start an ecommerce business. I just said no. You know, 20 years ago, or maybe even 10, I would have said, Oh, sure, I’ll meet with them. But this time it was a No, tell them to go to Shopify or a WooCommerce self-hosted platform like Nexis.

Yeah, we do some e-commerce builds and stuff and you’re right if there’s not enough money, I will do the same thing, I won’t touch it because the scope creep always kills you and I won’t do marketing campaigns. I’ve done a couple and to me, its high-end products, high-priced products are the only ones to even explore. But I won’t explore them as I’ve had my exposure. I’m good. I’m done. I’ll build you a site potentially if you’re willing to pay enough, but if otherwise, I won’t do it.

Yeah. Not interested. So yeah. To know what you’re good at and what you’re not good at is phenomenal. Hey, you shared so many golden nuggets with us that I didn’t even get through even half the questions I had and I know we’re coming to the top of the hour into our time. So, what’s one takeaway you’d like people to get from this episode?

If you’re in marketing and you’re either aspiring to be an agency owner or you are and you’re trying to scale and stuff, it’s a lot of work. So, know what you’re definitely good at, what you want to pursue, what you have a passion for, and who you want to work with. I think it’s one of the most important things and don’t take on every client just because there’s some money there. Some of them are just not going to be a fit and you have to realize that. So, hone in on what you are doing. Like, we have a whole suite of services, but we won’t work with every company, and if you stay straightforward like that. Like I say, know what your own mission is. You know who you’re going to work best with, and who you’re going to do marketing with. If you do your job well, one thing we have to remember is you have a large impact. A lot of marketers forget that. Impact comes from like if I do my job well and if my job is to drive leads to a business and I drive a lot of leads and then they get the increase, you know, that company, that client I’m working with, they increase their sales. They potentially hire more people on their end. So you’re a creator potentially and if you do well, you’re in. You’re also potentially going to help the people that work for that business make more money, not just the owners of the business, but if they’re treating their employees right and they’re increasing salaries and things like that. So, you’re providing opportunity, you’re actually supporting families if you do the trickle down from where it starts. You have a much larger impact than you may realize. So, that’s one of the reasons to kind of get to know the people, a bit of who you’re working with. You’ll have a better understanding.

Yeah, I saw that is exactly what you’re talking about with my impact at the car dealership, where I worked. They had to hire more salespeople. They had money to finally renovate the building. The dealer principal hired his own executive assistant. So, how do you handle the stress of that, though? Because that was very stressful for me. I knew that people were going to make or break paychecks based on what I did at my computer and that’s a lot of weight.

Yeah. Yeah, it can be and definitely I’ve felt that over the years, especially if you develop relationships that are tighter than normal with certain clients, which I certainly have. Everybody does. So, I don’t think you worry about the stress. You just keep it in mind. You keep in mind that impact and you do your best and if you feel like you’ve done your best at it and you’ve tried it and you’ve done everything you can to do right by the client, I say not everything’s going to work out. That’s just the nature of it.

Yeah, that’s true.

And the other thing to keep in mind, not every client you work with is going to appreciate what it took for you to do your best on their part. They’re not going to know the ins and outs. We work in a business that often our clientele is not very grateful for the work we do, even no matter how outstanding it is. So, always keep that in mind, but then appreciate when they do get it, and when they do, say thank you for everything, this has been such a benefit and stuff. Knowing that, you know, like I say, praise is usually not as often as criticism. But when you get it, appreciation related to your team, the work that they’ve done and stuff, because knowing that it’s not you, it’s everybody else that you have working for, you are working on that account. So, make sure that everybody else feels that too. No matter what you’re doing good, if the client’s getting results, you’re doing good work. So, keep that in mind.

Yeah. That’s one thing my dad taught me. Matthew, don’t always try and be the best, but always do your best. When you end up doing your best, you usually are the best. Nine times out of ten, I found it to be correct.

Yes, very true.

So, hey, how can our listeners connect to your online if they choose to do so?

Well, you can certainly look me up on LinkedIn. Cash Miller under Titan Digital. And I’m a Forbes agency council member and again, I always like connecting with other agency owners and stuff. I think it’s great for us to share best practices and whatnot. I don’t find that we’re necessarily all competing because there are a lot of agencies out there.

There are a lot of clients.

Yeah, there are always plenty of clients out there for everyone if you’re doing good work. You can also go to our website titandigital.com of course, but find me on LinkedIn. It’s the best way and if anybody ever wants to reach out just cash@digital.com.

We will make sure to put that information in the show notes. Again, I want to just say, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Thanks for being here.

Yeah, it’s been great.

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