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For this episode of E-Coffee with Experts, Ranmay Rath interviewed Robb Fahrion, Partner and Co-Founder of Flying V Group, a digital marketing company located in Irvine, California. He unveils the strategic intricacies behind client-centric approaches, networking mastery, and the delicate balance between AI and authentic content creation. Dive into the technical nuances of localized networking and the impact of podcasts on industry influence. Watch the episode now for more insights!
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Hey, hi everyone. Welcome to your show E-Coffee with Experts. This is Ranmay, your host for today’s episode. Today we have Robb, who is the Partner and Co-Founder at Fly V Group with us. Hey Robb.
Hey, Ranmay. Thanks so much for having me. Excited to be here with you.
Brilliant. Robb, before we move any further and understand more about SEO and strategies from you, why don’t you help our audiences understand more about Fly V Group, and how you started your journey so far? What do you guys specialize in? Then we’ll take it forward from there on.
No doubt. Yeah, that sounds great. The story is floating around online and in other podcasts or blogs that I’ve written, but was not a master-planned business by any means. My business partner and I, which is Brennan Smith, and then my brother, Tyler Farian, had a mentor who came to me. He was a lawyer and I was working a regular job like everybody else at the time in marketing, of course. He came to me in a panic saying, Hey, my website’s down, my emails don’t work, I don’t know what to do. I can’t continue running my business. He was a good mentor of mine, so helped him get back on his feet. He was a very successful lawyer, still is, a corporate lawyer, and was super thankful. He said, Hey, send me an invoice for the work. I had no idea what to invoice him. Invoiced him, and paid immediately. That’s when I thought, How many other guys in that particular space have this need and need this support? Especially with where everything’s transitioning to the digital era, then the digital age. Went to Brennan, went to Tyler, and said, Hey, I think there’s something here.
We focus on that archetype. Lawyers, financial advisors, professionals, accounting firms, and health care are in that mix as well. Still to this day, those are some of our core clients because they’re good at what they do and they have specific expertise in legal, law, might be health care, obviously, but in terms of business or marketing as a part of the business, they’re reliant on word of mouth and referral primarily. Very few of them understand, or not that they don’t understand, very few of them even want to tackle those particular efforts. That’s where we started to come in. We built Flying V Group. We looked at it as almost like a plug-in marketing team, or at least a marketing expert for their organization. Since then, we have serviced all different types of clients from e-commerce to the professional services space. But yeah, really putting an emphasis on supporting businesses that are number one, established, but number two, looking for growth that doesn’t have that marketing expertise or resources in-house. A lot of times those companies have maybe one individual that’s a marketing director or someone that they’ve told, Hey, you handle the marketing.
We’re coming in to help drive strategy, and consultation, expand bandwidth, and then get them going in the right direction and start to scale up from there. That’s a quick background. Again, no business plan, spur the moment, on a whim, right place, right time. Brennan and Tyler were also pretty frustrated with their normal day-to-day, so he took a leap of faith. Here we are now, coming up on 10 years, almost 2025, so one more year, and then we’ll be at 10 years. We’re pretty excited about that.
Brilliant. The invoice would.
Perfect. Robb, Flying V Group, as an agent, you have serviced more than 200 companies now with diversified digital marketing needs. How do you adapt your strategies to cater to both small and medium-sized businesses because the competition and the space are so different from each other? And two Fortune 500 companies, again, the difference only grows between these niches. Are there any common threads in your approach or is it entirely different for each client across these three different industry segments?
Sure. Yeah, I think at the end of the day, the actual marketing work that we’re doing is always going to be different. We’re firm believers that a box solution works for everybody. Every client is different. Even if you’re talking about a client that’s in the same vertical, they’ll have different needs, or they might have different goals, or maybe they’re in the startup phase versus another business that might be more mature, even though they’re both law firms, let’s say, right? I think that’s where the structure of the campaign, the goals, the targeting, those things are always going to be different. At the end of the day, though, our core service stack remains primarily the same in that we have our Web Dev design department, we have our SEO team, we have our content team, we have our paid media buying team. But that’s where the most important part of any engagement for us is really in that discovery. So right out of the gate, even before we’re working with the client, we want to take a deep dive into their business, right? I want to understand every single thing in terms of how their business works, and what’s worked in the past.
Again, where are they trying to go currently? What pain points do they have? What resources do they have in-house potentially? Then who’s their customer? What does their customer care about? What are their customer’s pain points? How are they solving those in terms of their competitive advantage and differentiation? Those first initial calls that we’re having with prospective clients are information gathering, right? It’s not us telling them what we want to do. It’s them giving us the information for me and Brennan and our team to then go architect. Okay, this is what the marketing and advertising plan and strategy look like, right? And lay out that roadmap and that blueprint for how we can be successful. And then at that point, you’re putting together a very strategic plan as well. And all of that planning and then, okay, we’re taking the SEO team and this particular segment of the paid media team handling meta advertising, and we’re meshing those together. We’re also looking at how the work that we’re doing on the SEO side complement the paid media buying as well. I think that’s where you need a lot of cross-channel synergy. One of the things very early on that we saw too, is a lot of agencies, they do get a little bit siloed, which is okay, but we were looking to solve, I think, more complicated, bigger problems.
Our clients didn’t have anything, right? When we’re sitting there talking to them, it’s, Hey, we need to have short-term, long-term efforts, right? We need a blend in which, all right, if we’re driving traffic through organic, we need some paid media for retargeting and follow-up. So that’s what I think has made us effective, not only in the strategies and how we build them and the performance but also in the types of clients that we work with. Because when we’re starting and sitting down, regardless of whether I’ve worked with this particular business in the past, I’m coming in with a clean slate on wanting to know everything from their perspective. Because again, even if I have worked with that type of client in the past, this is a unique situation. Our emphasis on learning, understanding, and then from there providing a strategic plan, I think, has allowed us to be successful across multiple different verticals, and multiple different strategies, and is, I think, a distinct advantage that we have in the marketplace.
Lovely. During these discovery calls, I’m sure this might have happened with you as well when you were asking these questions to founders, and owners, why did you start this business, what was the problem statement you walked out of your home to solve? And how do you want to be seeing your customers and all that stuff? Has it happened that they go back to their drawing board and it makes them realize, okay, while we are chasing revenue, numbers, target, let’s go back and understand why it all started and give these guys information so that they can present the right image for us online? Has this happened to you?
Definitely, yeah, that’s a great point. I don’t think I’ve been asked that question in the past, but you’re right. I think the initial call that we have a lot of times, sometimes they don’t know the answers to the questions that we have. Then it’s at that point they need to go back to the drawing board like you’re saying and be like, Yeah, what are we trying to do? Or, What is the real goal here? Or, We put consideration of whatever it may be into their heads of, Okay, maybe we do need to think about this a little bit differently. We find that a lot of times when we do come to the table with the strategy, Whoa, I was not expecting that. It’s like, Yeah, because a lot of times you do, unfortunately, in the marketing space, you do get a lot of the cookie-cutter stuff. It doesn’t have the customer or client’s best interest in mind, and it’s more difficult. It’s a lot more difficult to manage and put together a cross-functional, cross-channel strategy, making sure those different components are moving and working together in unison. That’s where I still have a lot of intimate involvement with our clients because we want to have more of that white glove, concierge, strong, keen understanding of our clients at an intimate level to where we become partners.
As time goes on, we get more and more familiar with their business, and that allows us to do our job better as well. That’s where our model is really, we’re selective with who we work with for sure. The clients need to be a fit for us as much as we need to be a fit for them. We’re looking for long-term engagements, right? I’m not worried about month one, or month two. I want to be 12 months, 24 months, five years down the road working with these clients because that’s when we’re going to start to see the exponential results, the economies of scale, and those compounding interest-type methodology in terms of the marketing efforts that we’re working on.
Absolutely. I spoke about long-term relationships. Networking plays such an important role in business growth. Could you share some of the insights that would have worked for you, let’s say, to do strategic networking, especially in high-stakes scenarios?
Yeah, definitely. Great point. Networking is huge. Part of it is you have to get over that hurdle initially of putting yourself out there. I think that’s what a lot of people struggle with, just taking that first step. We’re worried too much about what other people might think or criticisms or whatever it may be. But I think that’s just noise. If you can put that stuff in the background and look at the bigger picture, not everything’s going to work. You’re going to understand, Hey, this works better than this. But I think that’s the first step, is putting stuff out there to test, see what does start to work. One of the best things I’ve done, I think, LinkedIn for me has been an awesome channel. What I’ve done is I’ve focused just on the specific location that I’m in. I’m based in Southern California, Orange County, particularly. We’re in a big metro area with Los Angeles, lots of people. But I only focus on networking right in my backyard. The reason is I have so much more familiarity with those individuals. I am trying to grow my network, meet new people, and see what they’re doing.
If I can support them, great. If not, or maybe it’s not the right time, it might be down the road, right? But I also have that familiarity where we can talk about the same things, whether it’s the weather, the traffic, events that may be going on, or just different restaurants or bars that we all like to go to. And meeting as well is a lot easier. And so I think that’s where people, they try and get a little bit too wide. Would I love to meet more people in New York? Yeah, sure. But it’s like for me to go and grab coffee with them, that makes it a little bit more difficult. I can’t tell you the number of people that I’ve met through LinkedIn, I just sent an outreach saying, Hey, I’m trying to grow my professional network in Orange County. Here’s what I do. If I could ever be supportive, great. If I can support you, vice versa. And I’ve done coffee meetings and lunch meetings. I had a lunch meeting on Tuesday with a gentleman that I had never met in person. But then I think it’s too, what value can you bring to the table as well?
I think you need to go in with the mindset of I’m not expecting anything in return from them. I’m trying to provide them with whatever value I can, whether that’s opening doors with relationships or connections or the information that you might be able to give them. I think if you go in with that mindset, you’ll be very successful. But you have to be consistent too. It takes time, takes energy. It’s not going to happen overnight. So yeah, I think putting yourself out there, finding a channel that makes sense that you like working on, and then being pretty specific too. Do, really hone in on what, Be very adamant about what you’re trying to do and have a clear understanding and roadmap. I think you’ll find a lot of success if you just take those key points into the market when it comes to networking.
Brilliant. What is your take on doing podcasts to target your market segment? Because this has been a shot in the arm for us marketers. How do you feel? Let’s take an example of law marketing. How do you feel that a law firm can use podcasts as a strategy to gain momentum?
I think it’s great. When we go back to the core roots of the business, it’s more often than not, people choose to do business with somebody because they like that person, or they like doing business with them, or they’re comfortable with them and the conversation that they might be having, they trust them. They don’t feel like they’re being swindled or that something is not fishy, whatever it may be. I think with podcasts, you’re out there, you’re out front, you’re seeing the person, you’re hearing them speak, you understand their thought process better, and you know it’s genuinely them as well. Versus, don’t get me wrong, blogging is awesome too. You never really know who might be behind those words. It might not necessarily be as authentic. That’s where I think with video content, it’s great because you get that personal feel and you see that conversational tone. And at that point too, it’s COVID and 2020. I keep talking about it, but I’m realizing more and more it’s going to be something we’ve been talking about for a very long time because it shifted the dynamic so much. Even then, like Zoom calls, it’s still a little bit tough to gauge how you feel about the person and their reactions. Are they paying attention? The video helps. But then even to my point about networking, I think anytime you can be in front of somebody physically in the same room at coffee, at lunch, that’s super helpful. But I think podcasting definitely closes that gap if you’re unable to be in the same room at the same time. I think it’s a great medium. Then from a marketing perspective, it allows you to show what you can do. It allows you to build your expertise. If you’re talking about a lawyer, a guy that can go on and talk about X, Y, and Z particular cases, how they approached it, then when people are in that same situation, their barrier is going to come down because they feel more comfortable that individual knows what they’re doing, what they’re talking about based on the content they may have found wherever they may find it.
Absolutely. Talking about content, we were hit by the Storm AI in a ChatGPT, exactly a year back, right? Yeah. How do you think the industry has adopted it? At Flying V group, what changes did you make? Or how did it affect your lives at Flying V? Also, what do you think? Where are we headed? Exciting times ahead for sure. This is just one year, right? It’s going to get more and more involved in the day-to-day scheme of things if it is not today for anyone. How do you think it’s going to be, let’s say, six months from now? Where are we headed?
Yeah, that’s a great question too. Yeah, it’s caused disruption, right? Right now there’s more content that’s being produced and distributed than ever, right? For obvious reasons, and that it’s become a lot easier, and faster with this technology. And so what you’ve seen, again, is the market’s been flooded with content and information on whatever topic it might be. I think where our focus is on, okay, we know there’s going to be more content out there, but that’s where we want to lean even heavier into the expertise of our clients. And so what AI can’t necessarily replicate is the real world experience, is the actual individual that has that expertise and understanding and nuance of whatever particular vertical they might be. So what does that mean? That means the content that’s out there, there’s going to be an even higher barrier from a quality standpoint for the content and information that’s going to move the needle. Why? It’s because of that AI content that is being generated, the differentiation of the content is not big, right? Yes, we’re getting a lot more content, but a lot of it is very similar because it’s being produced by the same models, by the same LLMs.
That’s where we are looking at how can we inject case studies. How can we interview our client and get their own words into the content and the information to leverage their past experiences? With that being said, I still think AI is supportive. I think in terms of accelerating processes, we use it when you’re talking about SEO. Hey, give me a breakdown of this piece. Where are their gaps? Where can we do better from an SEO standpoint? But I still think going back, you can’t replace the human element. And so even with our clients, they’ve talked about, hey, we’ve tried to use ChatGPT, but the problem is that it just doesn’t sound like us, right? And it’s true because, at the end of the day, there’s always going to be a difference between, okay, someone sitting down and writing or injecting that information, putting it in their tone, in their voice. I think that the big emphasis for us on the content and the SEO side is creating more of it because there are automation and efficiencies that AI provides. But how can we differentiate? I think that it gives us an advantage because if you do have a real business and you do have real experience and you can figure out a way to okay, go and inject that into your information is now going to be that 1-2%.
That is not the 98% of the random AI generic content that’s being generated. Absolutely.
It has been a brilliant conversation, Robb. Thank you so much. But yeah, before I let you go, I would like to play a quick rapid-fire with you. I hope you’re game for it.
Yeah, that sounds awesome.
Great. Your last Google search.
Oh, gosh. Last Google search. I think it was for a client in the waste and recycling space, and I was looking up a law that they had referenced. Then there again, a particular California law that was in one of our content pieces, and I was researching what it was.
All right. Let’s say if we were to make a movie on you, Robb. What genre would it be?
What genre? Probably sports. I’m a sports action, so something that can combine the two. Huge sports junkie, American football, baseball, hockey. Sports.
Lovely. Moving on, your celebrity crush, Robb.
Celebrity crush. My wife’s a celebrity, so I’m going to say I think she’s a celebrity. I’m going to take the out with that and make sure I don’t get in trouble. I just recently got married. But yeah, no, she’s great. Then I love Jennifer Aniston, too. She turned me on. There you go. Yeah, she’s a big Friends fan, so I like Jennifer Aniston. She’s great.
Okay, lovely. The last one, I will not grill you any further. Since you did mention it, Congratulations. You recently got married. What’s the plan for the next vacation?
We went to Hawaii for a honeymoon. And then next the vacation is acting to be local, but it’s a little town here past Los Angeles in a valley. It’s called Ojai. O-j-a-i. We’re going up there for a few days in the middle of December. It’s been one of our favorite areas and hotels. I’m excited about that.
Lovely, Great. I’ll not grill you any further. It has been a brilliant conversation, Robb. Thank you so much for taking your time and doing this with us. Appreciate this man.
Yeah, no, thank you for reaching out Ranmay. I appreciate it. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you. I hope to talk to you soon.
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