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For this episode of Ecoffee with Experts, Matt Fraser hosted Kraig Bond, CEO and Owner of Elite Results Marketing. Kraig details his experience of being turned down for 500 interviews and how he eventually became an SEO specialist and ran a profitable digital marketing agency. If you’re an introvert who thinks you have no chance of succeeding in marketing, you need to watch this now.
Be okay with the fact that you’re probably going to mess it up. you may even mess it up royally, but you will learn things from it. And as you learn those things, you’re going to get better at it.
Hello everyone. Welcome to this episode of Ecoffee with Experts. I’m your host, Matt Fraser. And on today’s show, I have with me, Kraig Bond. Now Kraig will be talking about how to build a six-figure SEO agency in 12 months, even if you are an introvert. He has an amazing story. For example, Kraig is the CEO and Owner of Elite Results Marketing, a full-service Digital Marketing and Web Development agency headquartered in the Bentonville, Arkansas area. He has over ten years of combined experience in E-commerce, social media marketing, SEO, and business and project management. In addition, Kraig is an expert in his field when it comes to SEO. And with his background in technology, he has worked closely with many different industries and has helped dozens of companies achieve their marketing goals. Kraig, thank you so much for being on the show.
Thank you for having me, glad to be here.
Pleasure to have you here. So you’ve had an interesting journey so far. Who was Kraig as a school kid?
So I love that you included that as a question because I was the oddest duck you’ve probably ever met. As a school kid, Kraig didn’t fit in well. Part of the reason was that I moved around a lot. My dad was a home builder. So we moved quite frequently. So I probably changed schools like eight or nine times. So as a grade-schooler, I swapped Elementary several times. I don’t know how it is in most areas, but ours has tight-knit communities. So I wasn’t here at the beginning, and they’re like, Who’s this guy? And if you don’t assert yourself as a certain person, you’re called a duck. But I think that worked to my advantage later in life. Because we moved so frequently, I had the opportunity to home-school through junior high. So when I was reintroduced in high school, I realized they didn’t know who I was. They didn’t know I was the odd duck out. So I leveraged it to my advantage whenever I transitioned high schools and went from nobody in my previous high school to everybody knows Kraig. So Kraig is friends with everybody. You mentioned before we started that you have experience talking to other SEOs, and you’re probably familiar with somebody like Matt Bursty, and I can’t remember the other guy’s name. But I’ve noticed a trend, there’s a grouping of SEOs that did magic. Are you aware of this phenomenon?
No, tell me about it.
So, I have noticed that a fair number of SEOs, at least at one point in their life, maybe like I did in high school, did magic tricks or illusion. Are you familiar with Tai Lopez?
You are not? I’m a little floored by that. So one of the people in his course, whenever I went through that thing. That guy was teaching SEO and was also a magician with a full-on career as a stage magician.
What was his name again? Sorry, I’m looking it up, Tai Lopez.
Yeah, Tai Lopez wasn’t, but he had a guy. And I can’t remember the guy’s name. I have to look it up after this. It’s going to bother me. But one of the guys who taught his course the SEO component was a full-time stage magician before he did this. And I think Matthew Versteeg was as well. And it’s ironic because back in my school days, that’s how I reinvented myself. After all, I was really big into illusions and magic. And if you ask any of my peers from high school, they’ll say Kraig probably went on to Vegas to become the next Criss Angel or David Blaine. It ties back to being an introvert, and I created this alter ego for myself, where I can step into this very assertive role where I’m confident and do presentations and whatever. And then I sit back in my room, I stay home and read books. As a kid, I was an odd duck.
Yeah. And as a kid, I was as well. I won’t get into me, though. But I was an odd duck as well.
Well, in retrospect, I realized probably everybody feels like that, or everybody’s got their thing.
I don’t think you become who you are until you get comfortable with your skin, into your 20s. I’m 46, and I’m still figuring things out. What inspired you to start your own Digital Marketing agency? How did that come about?
So that relays back to Tai Lopez. So, to rewind here for a second, after I left high school, I spent a full year and a half digging ditches and landscaping. A weird turn of events. I had promised a friend that we would be roommates and move down to Bentonville because that’s where the jobs were. He got a job first. I couldn’t find one and ended up working landscaping for a while. There’s a whole backstory. I probably applied to 500 jobs over that year and didn’t get a single one. I got a random phone call from Walmart’s home office out of the blue while I was on a job site, said hey, you want to come in for an interview? I was like, okay, I have no idea where you got my information, but I’m all in. I showed up at their headquarters. They have this big Data Center here. They call it the David Glass center. I show up and say, ” Okay, this is cool.” So I walk in the door, meet the lady, and this is like, middle of the night because I’m interviewing for a night shift position. And that was rough. Don’t do that if you can avoid it. But anyway, I walked in, she started showing me around, and I was like, yeah, there’s no way I’m getting this job. I’ve interviewed for so many other jobs. There’s no way I’m getting this job. So I just started on the questions. I’m like, I’m going to make the most of my time here. I will ask questions, which translated to her loving my interview and hiring me. That kick-started a career with Walmart. I worked there for ten years. When I left, I was a senior systems programmer on the mainframe side. And through that process, I moved very quickly. Probably the first or second day I was on the job there, I walked into my manager’s office and said, Hey, I want to introduce myself. How soon can I get a raise? And he just laughed, and I was like, No, I’m serious. And he goes, Well, you’re eligible after six months, but it’s probably one to two years before your first raise. I said, Okay, I’ll see you in six months. Every six months after that, I hit pay markers and moved up. I like learning. When I started, it was a basic data entry. I didn’t know how to type. Back to that, the high school thing I transitioned to high schools, and they were about to start typing in the next semester when I left one school, and they had just completed it when I got to the other one. So I didn’t know how to type. So I had to go self-learn typing real fast to keep up.
How long, so how long ago was this?
This is over a decade now, because I was there for ten years, and I’ve been doing market for 13, 14, 15 years.
Fifteen years ago sounds like wow.
Is that even possible? Oh my God just realized how old I am.
In high school, I had to learn how to type on a physical typewriter when I was in grade ten. So at least now you can go on the internet, and there are typing websites, and you can learn to type. But that must have been interesting learning how to type.
It was. I was the fastest mountain pecker you can think of, and this ends up being translated into when I have conversations with my team now about sometimes you have to take a step back, take a step forward. I got so slow and struggled hard while learning, but now I type like a wizard. So, where was I going with that?
You were talking about how you were advancing.
I progressed through Walmart and shifted divisions several times. I made friends with some managers on the mainframe side and shifted there because I saw a ceiling with the networking side I was in. So it’s a mainframe. And then, I made friends with the director of the mainframe, and he pushed me into a position for CSCS, which is Virtualized Server Systems on the mainframe. And anyway, to round that out, I started seeing a ceiling again and realized the only progression I have from here if I move out of a technical role is management. And Walmart is such a big company, and when pay cuts come, the first level of management is usually dropped. So I was like, I’m either going to stay here or move into that dangerous realm, and I didn’t necessarily want to do that. Around that time frame, You put me on the spot, I can’t tell you how many years ago it’s been now, but we were expecting to have a baby. My wife she’s wholeheartedly a mother at heart. That’s all she’s wanted to do her whole life. She’ll probably kill me for saying it like that. But when I met her, I was like, this lady wants to be a mom. And so she wanted to stay home. And I was like, Okay, I’m going to have to figure out how to make up that income. And I can’t progress further here unless I go into that managerial position. I didn’t want to do that. So I got retargeted with one of Tai Lopez’s ads and bought his social media marketing course. It was $997. That was a super big decision for my wife and me to make. She’s like, if you think you can do it, go for it. So I got the course, went through it all in a week, and then went, oh boy, I’m in trouble. I was in trouble because he taught me to knock on doors and talk to business owners. And I’m like, that’s not me. Anyway, that kick-started it. We ended up doing a whole gamut of things. I tried to knock on a few doors. The conversations were bad, like very bad. I am like, Hi. I am Kraig. Would you like me to do your social media? I also found out very quickly that I didn’t want anything to do with the social media side. I didn’t have a passion for it and was not enjoying it. So we ended up jumping into some Amazon FBA stuff. I white-labeled a supplement because I’m into fitness, although you can’t tell. I gained some weight here lately with this knee injury. But yeah, so we did Amazon FBA. I got banned over a typo in my description for the supplement. And so I transitioned again, and we were trying some drop shipping stuff, which led me to start a baby boutique because we had Amelia at that time. And when I started the baby boutique, I was like, how do we get traffic? And that’s what kick-started the whole learning SEO progress. So lots of more courses. Of course, yeah. I probably bought some of the worst ones you could find and ended up on the internet forums. There are a lot of them out there. Anyways, I was doing some spammy stuff. I was asking questions. It was my site, so I wasn’t damaging anybody else’s stuff. And this guy reached out and got me into an argument with him. He’s like, dude, what you’re doing is spammy, you need to stop and go away, shoot. And, like, it made me mad. And I was like, What are you talking about? Blah, blah, blah. And he ended up making friends with me. It’s weird how that reoccurs in my life. I made the best friends with people, so I got into an argument the first time we met. But anyway, he decided, hey, I’ll mentor you. He owns a company out of Colorado doing SEO for big industrial, metal suppliers, and stuff. It’s B2B. And he had produced a local SEO course that he was using as a lead gen agent for him. And he said here, go through the course, and then I’m going to mentor you, and I’ll help you get your first client. I was like…
Was he doing this all for free?
No, I paid him in sweat equity too. Usually, that doesn’t work well. Hot tip for anybody watching if you’re newer, try to pay for the person’s time. They’re busy, and it’s worth doing, pay for the time. So he taught me some great stuff. So I landed my first client, and then I wondered why if I thought we could do Just like full time, we started pursuing it. And that’s how we got here. That was six years ago now.
So, given that you shared that you’re an introvert, knocking on doors was difficult. It’s interesting for people to tell me that I’m an extrovert. Sure, I can talk to people easily, but I wasn’t always that way. When I started working in the restaurant industry in 1998, I was so petrified to go up to my first table. It was mind-boggling. It was hilarious when you think back about it. And now, like you, I can go on, I can go on a bus, and talk to someone and find out tons of stuff about them, just by talking to them, and they do not know anything about me. Like the whole, whatever that guy’s name, you mentioned his name earlier. And yet, it wasn’t always that way. I had to develop that as a person. I was shy and preferred to be at home reading books and learning. Then even selling cars, as I worked in that industry and it was a means for me to learn how to sell, I had to learn how to be more assertive and be less nervous because if you’re nervous selling something, it instantly is going to kill the sale and so you have to be confident. So my question is, suddenly, you’re this shy guy, not to be insulting. But everybody has different personality types. So what were your means, instead of knocking on doors because you didn’t want to sell social media marketing? I understand why I wouldn’t say I like it either. But how did you transition to getting clients? Like, what did you do?
Number one, I spent a lot of money. Number two, I’m fairly confident in failure. As a person, I’m, I’m comfortable knowing that I can fail. I like to tell people that my only God-given talent is that I can learn anything. I was not good at naming. I’m not good at it naturally, so I’ve acquired a taste for it. I know that the best way to get good at anything is to put the work in. So the second best way is to shortcut yourself and find somebody good at it. I think I mentioned before we started this that I’ve spent a couple of $100,000 on sales training throughout my career here. And that means that’s over a fairly long period, but I like the big wins.
That’s a significant amount of money.
It was important. I knew the barrier between me and running an agency successfully. I have to overcome this. I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this publicly or not. I’ve told friends and family about it. But one of the other things that I did, which is sort of off the wall, and I’m not saying that everybody should do it, was a problem for me. I noticed that when I would get on a phone call, to try to sell and it had anything to do with business, I would instantaneously lose my ability to speak. Like, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t get the words to come out of my mouth. And I was like, there’s something wickedly wrong here. Because if we got on a phone with somebody, I don’t know. I told you I did the magic thing in high school. I could step into that role and have a conversation. I didn’t have a problem with that. It was only around business and sales that I would shut down. So I was in a BNI group at the time, which was a great way to get started. So, I came across a hypnotherapist, and I talked to her about the problem, and she went, why don’t you come in and see me for a couple of sessions? So I found that I had a mental hangup with business. And it all stemmed back, and I hope if my dad watches and sees this, he doesn’t get pissed. But he used to tell me as a child, children should be seen and not heard. He didn’t mean anything by it. But children are so impressionable, and when do you learn that you grow up? When do you decide okay, I’m an adult now. In my head, I’m still a kid. And so I had this hangup that I’m not allowed to talk whenever it’s grown-up stuff, and business is grown-up stuff. So I would get on the phone and hang up. She put me through a couple of sessions, and we got down to the root of the problem. We worked on it. And then it almost overnight went away. And I was like, oh my God, I can suddenly talk on the phone. Now, that doesn’t fix the other component where I don’t naturally want to do that. Or because I knew I was at a disadvantage, and I was spending all this money on training and courses, and they focus on like, here’s how you say this. And here’s the right words to say, and I got super hung up on that. And then, ironically, someone that didn’t pay a dime for this information, who’s wickedly good at sales and, ironically, used to work for and live with Jordan Belfort, gave me one statement.
Pause. Have you lived with Jordan Belfort?
My friend Dakota did.
Your friend Dakota lived and worked for Jordan Belfort and was mentored by him and then shared some tips with you.
I think he was in sales before he met Jordan, but I’m sure he learned a ton from the guy. Love him or hate him like Jordan is wicked good at sales. But anyway, he was another one I got into a fight with the first time I met him. I was in a bad mood. He owns an agency that does funnel, and one of his sales guys twisted my arm to get on a call with him. And I was just like, I’m not spending any money on my sales funnel, and just like, laid into him. And we got into it. He’s like, why I’m on this call then? And like, bent back. And that’s how our friendship started. But anyway, he pulled me back from the idea that I need to worry about word tracks and say things a certain way. And the one thing that opened the door for me was a statement that I’m pretty sure came out of a movie. I can’t remember the movie’s name. And it’s you are selling certainty in an uncertain world. And then it just clicked with me. I was like, people want to be confident. And I know I’m wicked good at SEO. I know my team is wicked good at SEO. So I need to express that. So I stopped worrying about words and started focusing on confidence in who we are and what we are to round out the question.
Did you suffer from the imposter syndrome a little bit, would you say?
Very much so, especially in the beginning. I don’t know how many studies we work with. When we don’t have case studies, and you don’t have a great number of people that you’ve worked with. The first one was fairly easy because I got a referral from a home-schooled friend. He hooked me up. So I did that one. We did a really good job with it. He still works with us today and has grown his business significantly. And now he’s a family friend. He’s like a second grandpa to my daughter. But, whenever you can’t lean back and go, I know we can do a good job at this because you’ve not done it enough times, it’s way harder.
Yeah, I agree with you. I struggled with that as well. And so one of the things that I would say is rank your website or create a website and rank it, work on it.
Find a friend or family member that has a business and work on their stuff and build. It sounds ridiculous. It’s slower. But the confidence you build will translate into dollar signs later.
So you were able to seek out mentors and invest in sales training. Would you look back at that sales training you invested in, and was it a waste, or was it of value? Do you wish there were some things you hadn’t bought and some you did buy?
So, training mentorships groups, like there are ones that were probably not the right fit, and I was sold then. It is the final solution. I’m finally going to get what I want. So no, I didn’t get what I was after. I’ve always, again, had that comfort with failure. I look at those as stepping stones like some of the groups I’ve gotten into. I didn’t get the sales training that I wanted, but I’ve met a tremendous number of people in that group who have now supplied me referrals and business. So I look at what I got out of it instead of what I didn’t and keep moving. Which I think is the best. If you sit and dwell on, ah, this guy has suckered me, well, then you’re, you’re less likely to go to the next one, and the next one might be the right answer. And I’m also not saying, like, frivolously hop, from the course, or mentor to mentor, like, you should be strategic about that and make some good decisions. But You also shouldn’t be afraid to give it a whirl. And what’s the worst case? You get something out of it in some way, I’m sure.
You said one thing that was just so instrumental regarding if you’re not good at something, find somebody else who’s good at it, and learn from them, and then replicate it, or even do it twice as much. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but that’s an exact sentence from Anthony Robbin’s book, Awaken the Giant Within. And reading that book changed my life, and I’m going back over 30 years. And then there’s another book by John Maxwell called Failing Forward, which I benefited from. He uses all these historical and business references about failing, people who failed and just kept going and failed from one thing to another to eventually become successful. And so, the principles you’re talking about are tremendously valuable because they’re so true. And it’s been stated by authors in these books.
I’m curious if it’s the same for you because the further you, as you said, fail forward, the harder it is even to contemplate stopping. There’s a built-in mechanism. So this is a weird way to describe it, but when I get tired as an agency owner, there are challenges, I’ve got them going on. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There’s always new growth and challenges to accept and go after. But I’ll get tired, and I reach for that file, and in my head, there’s quit. And it’s like a file not found. And I’m like, I guess I have to keep going. It doesn’t feel like an option anymore. I’ve gotten so far, been at it so long it’s not an option anymore. So I might as well embrace it and go full steam ahead.
I hear you saying. And I also think it’s a quality of entrepreneurs, we just can’t quit. You can knock us down, and we get back up and go again. I’ve had many setbacks, even COVID did some setbacks in my life. But I keep going, like the Energizer Bunny and keep going and going and going. And no matter how much you fail, you keep going. John Maxwell says, if you’re green, you grow, and if you’re ripe, you’re odd. So it talks about always learning as leaders learn. So it’s interesting, I love that you’re always investing in yourself and training. And even Brian Tracy talks about that. He said that your income is equivalent to the amount of your personal development. So this guy got it to the point where he always invested 10% of his money into personal development and started making so much money that he hired a personal assistant to find ways to spend it because he was doing that. And so it’s commendable, and I wish I had invested more in sales training. But like I said, I went a different route and learned how to sell cars, which you do learn how to sell. And it may not be the same thing as selling marketing services, but you learn the principles of building rapport and all the other things that go with sales. So this is the question I’m getting to, what would you say if someone were to come to you and say, Hey, I know you have learned how to sell as an introvert? So I want to learn how to do the same thing. So what is the one course right now that you would tell them to take for sales training?
The Dakota’s as soon as it becomes available. He is phenomenal at teaching. He is very good at doing it, but I think he is even better at teaching it. He has a way of breaking down the barriers or hangups in your head that prevent you from making the connection. I marked one statement, and he worked with me a few weeks before we arrived. But he would watch me, I recorded some calls, and he would go over them with me. Then he’s like, I know what your problem is. You are busy focusing on these small technical details, and you need to do this and completely unlock it. So I would say when he comes out, it’s called SellUps.
I wonder if we could get him on the show for an episode?
If you can make that introduction, that would be great. How did you decide to structure your agency regarding services? Like, do you only specialize in SEO? Do you do other things besides SEO?
So that’s the challenge we are facing now. Ironically back to investing in training or mentorship, I recently spent a fair amount of money with Agency owners that are steps ahead of mine. We have incorporated web design and some automation alongside our SEM services because of the core offerings we have been doing our Search engine optimization for Google ads specifically. You don’t need a Facebook, Bing, or any others. We played a little bit with Youtube. What was the question again? I want to make sure I answer correctly.
Services. How did you decide to specialize in one service, SEO, or to expand to a few services, as you said, SEO and PPC? Has that nibbled you to focus your agency more?
So I think that’s what I was getting at.
Yes, offering more than one service.
We started very broadly. I would do Youtube videos for you and do everything for your website. And then I looked around, this comes from learning all the other steps we did. I was trying to do drop shipping on Amazon and fifteen other things. I skipped over a few steps. I did some day trading for a while and did very well. But I realized I was putting all this energy and effort into all these buckets, I needed to be more hyper-focused on something. So on the way back from a vacation in Florida, I said SEO. I am going to die young, so we are going to do SEO, and I immediately got off that track and went okay. So with SEO, we can do paid ads, Youtube, and everything again. So I spread out too far again and was having a lot of trouble with that. Especially since it was just me in the game, it’s not like I had this great team when I started, it’s only me. I took that understanding and made more progress when I only focused on Digital Marketing and did not do any of these other things. I refocused and chose SEO because of my background in data and analytics and how well that translates to SEO. Once we did that, we started making progress. That’s when we started acquiring customers, making money, and getting to the point where we could hire a team. So we have reached a point where we got very good and bolted on PPC. About two and a half years ago, we started doing that because we had so many people asking for it, and we were established enough with SEO. The next progression was the website, and automation comes from learning from our problems and trying to solve a problem for us as an agency and our customers. We have worked with many industries and have built E-commerce websites, dog trainers, and chiropractors. Multiple Industries, our favorite is local. I like playing in the local space, but we have done some big companies and E-commerce too. I realized that many of the problems we were getting were when we inherited these crappy websites. So we do the SEO, we get them right, but they are not converting well. So we wanted a lot of time and energy trying to fix it and then realizing we are taking money from our pockets to upgrade these websites to keep our customers because it’s not converting well. How do we solve that? Let’s introduce building websites, and we will get hyper-focused on how to build them. Walk through those companies with what needs to go in there and push them towards having a pre-existing website that we know and are confident will convert well. That way, when we build on any of the SEM services, SEO, or PPC, they will get results and be happy, so they’ll stay long-term. The other problem is that we all, as agency owners complain about it, but I didn’t want to put the responsibility back on business owners. Sometimes they are not good at follow-up or picking up the phone.
Are you talking about clients?
Yes, clients. Sometimes they can be the worst. They don’t answer the phones, and we don’t get any business. I’m like you didn’t pick up the phone. So instead of going, we dump that on them, we take a step back and, okay, how can we start solving those problems? And that is where filling in the automation component and looking for tools to plug in with the website to make them more efficient and help them through that process. It is probably future pacing as far as a year out, but how do we be more specific about the verticals we work with? Then find partners to develop training for the company that is exterior the marketing. Like, fine, the marketing is happening, but what else can you do as a business owner? Because the ones that have been, Like my first client, run a septic company. They do over three million dollars per year. And when they started with me, they were at six hundred thousand dollars per year. So I don’t attribute that to my marketing. We have invisibility, but he is a smart business owner with very good processes and built a good team. So my thought is, what’s going to solve that? Maybe they don’t know, or they don’t know where to find it. So how do we bring someone to them or training to them that can help them evolve how they are doing business? That way, whenever they buy our service, they want to stick around because they see the benefits. So the ones that leave have no process, don’t answer the phones, and don’t know where their leads are coming from. So those are the unhappy ones.
I am laughing because that is the way it was when I started as the Marketing Director at the dealership. They have a multi-million business and have no idea what is going on with attribution. It was crazy. We are coming to the top of the hour, and I am looking at my list, and there are so many questions I didn’t ask. Like, what tips would you give to introverts, among others? What is one takeaway you want listeners to get from this episode? Or what’s one tip or advice you would give to other introverts that are struggling with Sales? If I could ask that question?
They will hate it, but it is doing the work. Get the reps. Everybody says it, it sounds cliche, but that is the only way. Do it, and be okay that you may mess it up. You may even mess it up royally, but you will learn things from it, and as you learn those things, you will get better at it.
Do you bring someone good at sales handling that slot?
For sales? Yes, that’s one of the things we are working through right now. Currently, I am doing all the selling, and I have other things that I would like to be focused on for opening the other divisions in the company. So we are talking to Dakota about building a sales team.
How can our listeners connect with you online?
Facebook and LinkedIn. If you send me a message like, hey, would you like to get more business? I probably would not respond to you, but if you send a direct message, I will be more than happy to talk to anybody.
Thank you so much for being on the show. Hopefully, you can come back if you like it’s up to you. For a second episode, we can have part two of Introverts to sales because there are so many of us. I am sure you have some very good answers to the questions I didn’t get to ask today, and we would love to have you back.
Anytime, it was a pleasure.
Thank you very much, and you have a wonderful day.
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