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In this episode of E-coffee with Experts, Ranmay Rath interviewed Paris Vega, Chief Growth Officer of The Nine, located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States. The engaging conversation spans two decades of entrepreneurial experiences as Paris Vega shares insights into his professional journey, from graphic design to internet marketing. Paris Vega also sheds light on his podcast, “The First Customers,” highlighting its focus on the critical milestone of gaining initial customers and providing unique insights for fellow entrepreneurs. The conversation encapsulates key themes such as strategic growth, internal operations, and the influential role of podcasting in branding and networking.
Watch the episode now for more insights!
Balancing various aspects of growth requires a clear vision, consistent communication, and aligned incentives.
Hey, hi everyone. This is Ranmay here, back with your show E-Coffee with Experts. Today we have Paris Vega with us, who is the Chief Growth Officer at The Nine. Welcome, Paris.
Thank you for having me.
Great. Before we move forward, I would like you to, help us understand more about your journey thus far and also help us understand what The Nine is all about and we’ll take it forward from there.
All right. So, for the past 20 years or so, I’ve been working in a lot of different roles across different companies. And I’ve started my projects, started my own companies here and there have had. Very few successes, but a couple and many failures along the way. I think anybody who’s got an entrepreneurial itch probably has more failures than successes.
And that’s been my experience. But 20 years ago, about. When I graduated from college from the University of Alabama with a degree in graphic design, and digital media, minored in business. While I was in college, I started doing freelance design work and got to use some of my freelance work as my coursework in school.
So, I was getting grades and I was getting paid for the same work. I just kept freelancing after I graduated until I decided to get a job at an internet marketing company is what they called themselves back then. And they focused on truck driver recruiting. And so, they built websites and one of the first websites.
Truck drivers could apply online back in, I think it started in 1999 and I started working there for the 1st time in 2002 as a part-time worker while I was in college. And then I got a full-time job with him in 2006 after college, but, yeah, it was one of the 1st websites. bestdriverjobs.com was the website and the truck drivers could apply online and then their application would get sent to multiple trucking companies.
And the companies would get those leads and be able to hire truck drivers. And my 1st role there was like. Emailing companies to try and get them to add a link to the website, some old-school SEO link-building tactics. I think my first job was just gathering email addresses of companies that the actual SEO people were going to email later.
That was my first job dipping into digital marketing.
Great. And I also see that you host your podcast. Tell us more about it.
Yeah. The First Customers podcast is all about how different business owners, entrepreneurs CEOs, and marketing folks, and how they got the very first customers for a business.
Because I think that. That’s one of the most important moments of a business when you might have a product or an idea or service and start with zero, no money coming in, no customers most of the time, and going from zero to something that first customer is a special moment for any entrepreneur.
And so, I started a podcast just focusing on that moment because I’ve been there so many times. Sometimes you’d never get that first customer because the idea or the project just didn’t work, it wasn’t a good fit for the market, or whatever. Nobody wanted what you made and, then when you do get a customer and you get that kind of confirmation that what you’re doing matters to somebody and you get paid for something that you’ve come up with or a business that you started, it’s a, it’s an awesome moment.
And so that’s the topic we explore and we try to keep it pretty focused on that moment in a business. I think other entrepreneurs and executives listen to the show and have given me some good feedback that, there are a lot of insights you can gain from learning from what others are doing.
Yeah. Absolutely. And then like we were discussing earlier you have. Had a long career, over this, these last 20 years you have seen so much in terms of like you mentioned, so many companies, you succeeded, you failed, but there’s a lot of experience throughout, right?
Can you please outline some key considerations that, these budding entrepreneurs who are listening today to, keep focused upon while strategizing that sustainable long-term growth?
Okay. I think one of the. The most interesting thing I’ve learned is being a part of different companies starting, obviously, just as an employee, just like most people, just an employee at a company.
And you get your 1st experience from that perspective. Then over the years, I moved into maybe some mid-tier management and then tried to start my projects. And then eventually joined a project that took off and worked well, after a lot of failure for years. The one that worked, I think the biggest thing that I learned and it stayed around for years and was eventually sold and did well.
But the biggest thing that stood out for me was that at different moments in the company’s growth, you have to change your strategy and your tactics. At that kind of top level, because the things you do to start a company aren’t necessarily the things you need to do to grow the company and aren’t necessarily the things you need to do to maintain and manage the company and, keep it alive.
There are new things that you have to start doing and some things you might have to stop doing at different levels as a company grows and there are very clear phases, it seems at least from my experience what it was like. At first, it was crazy, nonstop work, seven days a week, all hours of the day, every waking moment we poured into the company and tried to get it off the ground until we had customers coming in and then.
Just that initial chaos of just taking over our lives at first. And, that’s not what I would call long-term sustainable work habits, but to get something started and off the ground, a lot of times it seems like it takes that kind of work, depending on the industry you’re in, and the type of project you’re trying to do.
It’s possible to build companies in different ways and use different styles, but the project we were working on took some insanity upfront. But eventually, as the project stabilized, we had a much healthier work-life balance because instead of trying to, create something from scratch, we were just in optimization mode.
And so, it’s at first, you’re giving birth and that process is extreme and can be painful and then you’re okay, we’ve got something that’s a legit, you Company here. It’s making money. Customers are happy with the service. As long as we keep it alive and keep making it better, stay with us and that’s a much more manageable place to be in.
And the different phases are really interesting. And then at the end when you try to sell a project, it’s another change in kind of the. The moment of your company’s history and the things you need to do, and they’re preparing to be audited and all that kind of thing for the due diligence and everything that comes with selling a company different moment there. And at that project, I moved around to tons of different roles because my mindset was just whatever the company needed. Whatever would be the best use of my specific skills at any given point in the company, I would try to move towards that role. And so, I would repeatedly ask myself that question, like, all right, is what I’m working on something that only I can work on?
Or is it the best thing that I can work on given my skillset and the team’s skillset, or do I need to delegate this or ask for help from somebody else who can do this better or faster so that I can just focus on the things that I’m doing? The best at, or at least the only one or the best person [00:08:00] for, a given task so that we can move forward more effectively, efficiently, just faster overall.
And so, I think that’s a combination of things that entrepreneurs need to ask themselves, what phase are you at in your company? What’s required at the given phase that you’re at in the life cycle of your company? And then what are you doing each day or each moment? What are you spending your time, energy, and attention on your TEA?
So, to speak, you don’t want to spill your TEA, your Time, Energy, and Attention. You don’t want to spill it on things that are not worthy of your life force. So, to speak, and so it’s important to always ask yourself what you’re working on, what you specifically should be working on, or should delegate this to somebody else.
And that’s even if you’re not the top person at the company because I wasn’t in this case, I was just one of the kinds of manager partner level people, but I just saw that as [00:09:00] being a responsible partner was asking myself that kind of a question regularly.
I See a lot of experience there, Paris as someone who has handled multiple roles as you did mention about the fact that you have started at the ground up, you have been at different managerial positions, senior level positions, mid-level positions, and in terms of having that experience all through these years, how do you approach the task of, aligning teams with different responsibilities towards the unified or, the same growth vision of the organization.
I think that communication is one of the most important things, clarity of communication, consistency in your communication following through with what you tell your teams. I think that’s extremely important that there is a clear vision from the top down, I guess that the first part is the leadership needs to have a clear vision of what’s trying to be done and where the company needs to go and then clearly communicate that vision and how all the teams can contribute to that vision in a very clear way, and then make sure that the incentives of each team align with that vision of the direction of the company. And that their incentives are, in line with that, the rewards that they get for doing a great job will make them work towards what you’re trying to accomplish as a company.
And I’ve been a part of projects that did that well and others that haven’t done that well at all. And some that are in the process of trying to do that better. But I think that’s important because again, that time, energy, and attention, you want to make sure that everybody on the team is putting that in the right place.
So, we’re all going in the same direction.
Yeah. And then let’s move on to digital marketing. You have been in this [00:11:00] space for so long as well. If you can throw some light upon it. The most impactful strategies that you would have employed in your setups to foster revenue, for companies or your clients.
And especially during the initial stages of development, because like you with, like we were discussing earlier that’s the difficult part, to crack that first client, to get that first invoice. So, what would be your strategy or what has been successful strategies in your career so far?
Something that I’ve learned through the first customer’s podcast, talking to all these different entrepreneurs and businesses, and some of them agency owners as well about how they’re getting their customers. One of the patterns that I’m seeing is talking to your target audience as much as possible.
So first that would mean you need to clearly define who your target audience is. And what your service is, what problem are you solving for a very specific target audience, a specific group of people, your marketing messaging your service design, and everything about your company.
Does it fully solve that problem for a specific target audience so that you can communicate that solution and show the benefits of what you do and how it would change their life whatever type of product or service it is, there’s. The assumption is that your business makes their life better in some way.
And so clearly defining who your target audience is and how you solve that specific problem that your business exists to solve is crucial. But once you have your target audience defined, it’s not just through social posts and a bunch of blog content for SEO and all that. It’s not just through those means.
I’m saying like what I’ve noticed, it seems like the people who have the most success, um, figure out ways to connect with that target audience. Whether it’s through maybe leaning on video a little more, but, or doing things like going to events and talking to people who are in that audience or creating events.
That attracts that target audience or is for that specific target audience. And so, when you have that direct communication with the people that you’re trying to serve, you can learn way more than just, sitting back and doing AB testing on a Facebook ad for different types of copy. You can get somewhere with that, but it’s not the same as having a conversation with your real customers.
Yeah. And then we did speak about growth as well, which can be multifaceted or encompassing, not just revenue. We also talk about, how a brand has grown. From that perspective, talking about brand recognition, and market share, there are so many facets to, so-called growth that we all talk about.
So how do you approach balancing these various aspects, while formulating the growth strategies for your clients?
Could you explain that a little more? Sure.
Just wanted to understand your take, on the concept of growth for any given brand.
Okay. Yeah. So yeah, my role has grown in the title. I think it can mean a lot of different things at different companies. There’s a lot of ways to look at that.
But for me, like how I mentioned the way that I worked on past projects. I tend to look at the internal operations of the company first. All the outward stuff, like your SEO and your digital marketing, your social marketing, content marketing, video marketing, all that stuff, the visual branding and your kind of interaction with the world, uh, that’s all important for sure.
And it needs to align with your company’s, uh, goals and messaging and your product service, all that you speak to the target audience like I was saying but I think one of the most important things though, is the internal operations of the company.
And so that’s where I’ve focused a lot of my attention here recently at the companies I’m involved with, of trying to figure out how we can better operate. And better structure of the company and our services and our processes believing that will lead to a lot more growth. Because once you solve your internal problems and build your internal processes and everything, then, um, it’s like a deeper way of solving the external problems because building an internal system for posting content regularly is a much way to better way to spend your time than.
Just directly going and trying to write a bunch of blog posts one day, so it’s that philosophy of, they talk about with entrepreneurship, you want to work on your business, not in your business, and I, and so I guess that’s where I lean towards is trying to figure out how can we build a machine, a bit better system that will then create the things that cause us to grow versus, different growth hacking type tactics, although I guess something that’s, that is more outward is the podcast that I started, there is.
Obvious potential for, I’ve been able to connect to more people. So, I think that podcasting is a great thing for companies to do. Because you do build your network, you build a little awareness, you grow a little bit of an audience and you get to almost have, an automatic salesperson or branding person just out there in the world, just like your content.
Does for you on your website. It can be 24/7 salespeople for you if it’s done well. And if you have a podcast, like one of my guests has a podcast that’s super specific about HubSpot and they just talk about how to use HubSpot and all these different ways. And so, they became an authority in that niche and they get lots of leads every month.
They’ve gotten like a thousand so far since they started their channel. Oh, wow. That’s just from posting about all the different ways you can use HubSpot to make your business better. And they’ve become that voice and they’re known for that. And so, they get hired to help people. Use HubSpot, to get trained on HubSpot.
And I think that’s one podcasting is powerful because of that. They were saying that they basically, and this was Ali Schwanke on the first customer’s podcast she was telling me that the listeners of her podcast feel like they have, they know her, have somewhat of a relationship.
And so, by the time they contact them, they are already a very warm or a hot lead. And their first meeting with them is a close sale, closing the meeting because they’ve had. They’ve already watched maybe hours of her on video. And so it turns, what would usually be a colder warm lead into a very hot, ready-to-buy lead because you’ve got this kind of automated relationship building happening through the YouTube channel.
Can agree to that. Yeah. Great Paris. It was lovely speaking with you and thankful for taking your time and doing this podcast with us. Yeah. Appreciate your time, man.
Hey, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Thanks. Yeah. Cheers, man.
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