Instead of folding from the 2008 big marketing crash, Angel Fields replaced fear with fortitude. In the back of every entrepreneur’s head is a voice that says: its ok, trust me and just do it. The key is to listen to that voice and take action. Angel learned this hard lessons before making it big. She started thinking big and positioned herself firmly with her experiences in branding—by building marketing mix that increases lead generation.
My guest is an entrepreneur who started her company with a very big vision only to discover that it wasn’t as easy as she thought it would be. With some quick success initially, here too, turned out to be far worse than she expected. It wasn’t until November of that year that she got her first client. That leads to the discovery about her own marketing that changed her life forever. Today, she owns and runs three companies and has over 3,000 clients.
Create Your Marketing Mix By Thinking Big with Angel Fields
Welcome, Angel Fields, to the show.
I’m super excited to be here.
It’s my delight and pleasure and honor to have you on. You have such an interesting story. I know that listeners are dying to find out more about you. Take us back to when you first got started and a little bit about how you got to where you are today.
When I first started, I was working for an insurance company. I was the chief marketing officer for one of their distribution companies out East. My job was to make the phone ring. It was to get leads to come in through the mail. We used direct mail at the time. We would mail out these long letters and at the bottom of the letter was a tear-off card that the person would mail back. That was my job. My job was to make sure that the sales team consistently had good promos, good campaigns, and constant leads that were coming in. As I was sitting there, I realized that I had helped the company go from being about a half a million to being close to a $1 billion company. That first year that I took over the marketing, I saw opportunity. By the second year, when we once again reached that $1 billion mark, I was just thinking to myself, “If I could do it for them, I can do it for myself.” There was this quiet, still voice inside me that told me that I could achieve anything. It gave me the vision of thinkBIG. I was sitting on a couch of a girlfriend, and in October 4, 2008, I created thinkBIG Marketing.
Did you make that decision before the big market crash or was it around that time or after?
It was around that time. Scary enough, it was actually my motivator. I can remember sitting, watching CNN and hearing how tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people were being laid off. In my mind I thought, “Marketing is probably one of the first areas to go. You can’t afford to get rid of sales but you can afford to get rid of support.” I saw it as an opportunity to be able to go in and position myself as an expert in branding and marketing and lead generation at a fraction of the dollar of having an entire staff on salary.
That makes a lot of sense, although I have to say it was quite a bold decision that you made back then.
For me, I was single with no children. That voice inside me told me it was time to jump and so I did. I’m just very fortunate that my parachute opened and I’ve been soaring ever since.
Let’s take a look at that just for a moment because a lot of entrepreneurs hear that voice but they don’t act. What I’d like to try and understand here is what is it that you heard and why did you act compared to others who may hear something like what you heard and don’t?
A few things. First of all, I am a faith-based woman. I can remember being in church a few months before and I heard the minister speaking to thousands of people and he said that I was pregnant with possibilities, I wasn’t physically pregnant. Even though there were thousands of people in the room, I swear he was only talking to me. I walked away that day just feeling so excited and encouraged. After that, I constantly heard the voice that it was okay, “I’m going to take you higher than you’ve ever been. Just trust me.” I just kept hearing it over and over and over again. My mom was excited. My dad thought I lost my mind. Regardless, my family had my back. I felt like even if I jumped, I wouldn’t fall too far. I had too much support around me to stay down.
When the pastor says that all of the cattle on a thousand hills are yours, you saw that and said, “He’s right. It is mine and I’m going to take it and I’m going to go for it.”
One other thing, I had a girlfriend that told me many years ago to replace fear with fortitude. Whenever I get fearful, which is most times when you’re dealing with something new, I just force myself to push it aside and to move on anyway. That’s one of the advices that I give to a lot of new business owners and small, medium-sized business owners now. Push it aside. Fear is always going to be there, but just push it aside and keep going. That’s what I had to do.
The reason you did that and maybe the reason why everybody should do it is because your treasure is buried behind your fear. God hides our treasure behind our fear so that we have to go through it to get it. The faith that you had pushed you through it and that’s the faith we all must have as we confront the ups and downs and failures in our lives. Let’s go back again to the beginning. You started your company and it sounds like it took off pretty quickly. You must have done something right, right away. Tell us what happened.
When I first started, I had a couple of investors, I had a couple of employees and I had a few clients. I took some of the clients that I reached out to that we were already working with in corporate. I asked them if they’d be willing to outsource some of their business to me and they said, “Yes.” I was a little comfortable because I knew I had this pocket of clients. I had a few bucks in the bank because I had a couple of investors. I immediately went into marketing mode. I did what I knew, which was direct mail and started marketing my business that way.
Let’s take a step back here and tell us what it is that you did for those clients.
We operate then and now as the full service marketing department for small to medium-sized companies. From strategy to execution, we take care of all things: branding, marketing and sometimes public relations related.
Is that for retail companies or all types of companies?
All types of companies. Real estate is a big focus of what I do. Financial services is another large source, but I work with all clients, all industries.
Do you think this is because of your early success at the insurance company that gave you that confidence to walk away and then seek out those similar-type clients?
Yeah. When I first started doing this, financial services were my clients because I worked in insurance financial services. I knew that industry like the back of my hand. That’s where I started. I did good work for a client and then they referred me to a friend. The friend was doing event planning. I started doing some marketing work for event planners. Then I did my direct marketing campaign, which leads me to some of the mistakes that I made early on. I did direct marketing campaign and one of the folks that came back to me was a court reporting company. Next thing I know, I had a court reporter and then I had an attorney. I just had all different kinds of industries. When you’re first getting started, money is money. You are so excited to be getting a check that you start to working with lots of different people. I just became exposed.
I think we all start in that direction. We look for clients and then once we get clients, we decide whether we want to keep those same types of clients. You had something happen in year two. Why don’t you tell us what happened just as the clock switched over to the New Year?
Year one, I did really well. I had 15, 20, 30 clients, regular paychecks coming in. Everybody was really happy. I just assumed that year two would go the exact same way as year one. I was sadly mistaken because what I found was my direct mail marketing all of a sudden wasn’t working. The clients that I had were starting to pull back on some of their marketing efforts. If I think about it, it’s now 2009, 2010.The recession, as we now know it, wasn’t getting any better. People were spending less and less and less money. Just like they let go of the employees that were doing the marketing, they were also starting to cut back on the consultant that was doing the marketing. I didn’t see it. I didn’t anticipate it. Because I was trying to market to everybody, I was reaching nobody.
Which is probably marketing 101, which is another great lesson that unfortunately we all seem to learn the hard way. Here’s something I remember from that era. At the time, I was running Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes’ Business Breakthroughs International. Just as the recession was hitting, our business picked up big time. The reason it did is because a lot of people were trying to compensate for the downturn with more sales and marketing and more training. Around 2010, after they pretty much spent what they had in the bank and figured that, “This is taking longer than I had hoped it would,” that’s when we saw cutbacks as well. We had to start shifting gears. In fact, what we did was we doubled down. We went from spending about $50,000 a month to about even $125,000 a month on radio. That drove a lot of people into our world. You said you used direct mail. I assume you mean traditional direct mail with an envelope and a glassine window and a three, four, five, seven-page letter and order form and all that. Is that what you meant?
It was more like a four, five, six, seven-panel letter. It was an extremely long document. At the bottom it had a tear-off which was a self-mailer, so the person filled it out and returned it. I stuck with what I knew and it worked for me for a while. One of the biggest mistakes I see companies make now, which is the same mistake that I made then, was not knowing exactly who I wanted my customer to be. There’s nothing wrong with working with everybody, but there’s everything wrong with trying to market to everybody. You have to clearly identify who your customer is. It’s like when it’s raining. The rain falls everywhere even though you want it to hit the grass.
This is maybe a little bit basic but maybe not. Can you give us an overview of how you determine exactly who your ideal customer is?
For me, I had to take a step back and I had to look at who was actually buying and what does that person looks like. For me, more women than men buy. More women between the age of about 35 and 50. More women who are generally Caucasian, have blonde hair, have two to three kids. Their children are generally middle school to high school age. They live in a certain neighborhood. They drive a certain kind of car. I have really pinpointed exactly what my customer looks like. For me, it was simply based off of what was the majority.
That makes the process so much easier, so that you can target so much easier and so much less expensive than having to get to everybody.
A dollar can only be spent so many ways. If you know who your customer is, you’ll know where to find them. If you know where to find them, you know how to market to them. You know what to say. You know what their triggers are. By identifying who that customer was, I was able to then start to market directly to that person. More times than not, that person became a buyer because I was speaking to them.
Let’s say step one is identify your buyer and do a client avatar study to make sure you know who they are. That includes all the things you said. What’s step two?
Step two for me is all about creating a plan. When I look at businesses, a lot of folks that I consult with, they always put the cart before the horse. Having a plan forces you to really think through a lot of steps. Everybody wants to have a client. I would love for every person that saw an ad of mine or received an email of mine to become a buyer. The reality is that just doesn’t happen. What’s my plan for those that choose not to buy immediately? Having a plan forces you to think through all of the steps from who your customer is, what are your goals, how do you plan on targeting those individuals, how do you plan on staying in touch with those individuals, and how do you get those conversions.
That makes sense but I’d like to still go a little bit deeper. You say create the plan and the plan consists of those who don’t buy. What about those who do? How do you build this holistic plan that takes everybody into account?
What I look for is segmenting between the buyers and the non-buyers. The buyers, I know exactly what to do with depending on the service or product that they are looking to buy. I’m going to start there and then I’m going to look at maybe their entire portfolio and see what else is out there that’s going to be a good fit for them. My job is to be a resource and to be a thought leader. To share with them things that maybe they hadn’t thought of, as well as creating a plan for those who are thinking through how to funnel those that don’t always buy right away.
Let’s talk about the ones who don’t buy. What do we do with them?
I do a few different things. We use voice drops as one of the means of communicating. That’s basically leaving a voicemail message without the phone ever ringing so you don’t have to interrupt people in their day. We use email marketing. We also use remarketing through Facebook and Google and some of the other digital marketing techniques.
The thing that you said about voice drops is not that common but it’s horribly interruptive. Even seeing all these voicemails on my phone, I just delete them all. I don’t listen to them because I know that by looking at the caller ID, they’re coming from electronic systems. They’re coming from computers or places I don’t know. What were the other things you mentioned?
Facebook, Google remarketing, email marketing.
Tell me what you mean by remarketing.
Cookies. If we’re running an ad and someone clicks on it, then we want that ad to follow them.
That’s the pixel that we’re talking about here, placing the pixel in your process. At this point, we’re going to follow around those who don’t buy on the internet. We’re going to show them and give them other opportunities to buy. How long do you do that and when do you, at one point, completely just give up and say, “These people are not buyers?”
For us, it depends on the campaign that we’re running and the target market that we’re trying to hit. Our drip campaign can last anywhere from six to ten weeks.
That should be enough time. If they’re not going to buy in six to ten weeks, then I guess they really aren’t clients, right?
They’re probably not. Advertising is all about putting the bug in someone’s ear. If I see a commercial for Oreos right now, as much as I love Oreos, I’m not going to grab my key and run out to the grocery store. The next time I’m in the grocery store, I might think to go down that aisle and pick up those pack of Oreos. That’s what I’m trying to do with products and services that we offer and/or my clients offer.
We got to step two, which is to create the plan, and you gave me some great ideas about the plan. What is your step three here?
Step three is creating a marketing mix. We never put all of our eggs in one basket. Depending on who your customer is and the best ways to reach those customers, we’re going to create various types of marketing. I hear you don’t like voice drops, but there is a really high response rate to them. That happens to be one of the mediums that really works for me in my industry and for some of the clients that I work with as well.
I’m going to give you a resource that might be of interest to some of your clients. I have a friend who owns 50,000 800 numbers. One of the things he’s done is he’s taken 800 numbers of companies that have 888 numbers. For example, if you have a problem with your insurance bill and it says, “For customer service, call 888,” and then the number, your mind immediately sees it as a toll-free number and then dials 800 instead of 888. What he serves them up is an unbeatable offer for a free cruise or something of that sort just for calling the number. It’s a little bit deceptive because they say, “Thank you for calling. While you’re waiting to be connected, we have something for you today. How would you like to take a free cruise?” It’s very cool and it works really, really well. I know 90%plus of people are going to hang up and say, “I must have dialed the wrong number,” but some single-digit percentage say, “This sounds pretty good,” and they stick with it.
If you’d like to know more about this, send me a private email. I’ll connect you to the guy who does this. This is something that is really, I would say, almost subversive and underground but totally legit and totally ethical too. If it’s something you want to do, let me know. I love the idea of having multiple ways of reaching different people. Voice drops could probably work really well. What else like voice drops would you consider?
We also consider text messaging. Of course, email marketing, one of the most cost-effective ways to market. Those are probably some of the biggest ones that we use on a regular basis. As a business owner, as someone who wants to be seen as a resource within the industry, looking at this gentleman that you’re going to connect me to with the 50,000 800 numbers, I always recommend to people to be open to receiving and hearing out new ideas and new concepts. You’ll never know when it will be something that you could actually utilize in your business. It may not be a right now thing, but an opportunity may come up later on and you go, “I remember when I heard X,” and be able to apply something like that to it.
Have you thought about doing something with beacon marketing? Do you know what a beacon is?
In concept, yes, but tell me what you’re thinking.
There’s a whole new type of marketing that Google is supporting called beacons. You can put an electronic beacon at a physical location and when someone walks by, their cell phone is going to receive an offer that you would provide them for just making a left turn and walking into your store. This is just getting started now and it has the potential for abuse. It’s working really well for restaurants in malls. I just found out about this. I spoke to a gentleman who’s an expert at this and he told me all about this. He says, “Google is very supportive of this in getting placement for you.” I just thought I’d let you know about that because it sounds like you are looking for multiple ways of creating that marketing mix.
Always. The other thing that we really spend a lot of time on is helping people to protect their brand. I think that is extremely important especially in a day where social media and people writing reviews are things that are so common practice. It used to be that you got on the phone with your girlfriend or you hung over the fence. You had a conversation with someone regarding maybe the experience that you just had at a restaurant or from your realtor or whatever the case may be. Now, people go online and they can voice their opinion. What we are doing is helping businesses to protect their brand by really getting ahead of it. Hopefully, that’s one of the things that we can dig into.
Tell me how you protect the brand, how you get ahead of somebody putting an opinion on Yelp.
About four or five years ago, I met a lady by the name of Leigh Brown. Leigh came to me. She probably had an internet ad and she wanted me to do a couple of fixes on her website. I said, “No problem. It would cost a couple of hundred dollars and takes a couple of weeks to do.” I fixed the problem. I delivered on time and on budget. Fast forward a few months later, she gives me another call and she says, “Angel, I want to do X on my website. Is that something that you can help me with?” I said, “Yeah, of course.” She proceeds to tell me what the problem was. Once again, I delivered on time and on budget. About six months after that, I get a call from her and she says, “Angel, I just got an oil change done and at the end of my oil change, they gave me a survey. It asked me if I’d be willing to go online and write a review on Facebook.” She says, “Is this something that you think you could create for my business? I think this was something that would be really cool.” I looked at it and I thought, “That seems simple enough. No problem.” Once again, I created a survey for her that allowed her to digitally ask her customers a few questions about the experience. I said to her, “Why don’t we make it one step better?”
What we did was we made the software so it was intuitive. It could detect whether the feedback was good or bad. If the feedback was good, then we had it automatically blasted all over the internet. It went to Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter. It went on her website as well. Then we gave them the opportunity to also be able to share that feedback on sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, LinkedIn, so forth and so on. Since she was a real estate agent, doing it on sites like Zillow and Realtor.com was something that was really important to her. She was using it and loving it and she says to me, “Angel, do you mind if I share this with a couple of my friends?” I’m like, “Of course.” Sure enough, she shared it with some folks and every once in a while, I would get a call. I would charge them the same couple of hundred bucks that I charged her.
One day, it was a Saturday morning. I was living in Chicago at the time. It was about 7:30 in the morning, my phone rings. I thought, “There’s no way I am answering the phone on a Saturday morning at 7:30.” I thought, “There might be a problem. Let me go ahead and answer this phone.” I answered the phone and the individual on the other line says to me, “I was just talking to Leigh and she said you built this survey for her and it collected feedback from your customers. Assuming the feedback was positive, it was blasted all over social media. Is that something that you can create for me?” I said, “Sure, no problem.” Once again, I just charged them a couple of hundred bucks. As soon as I hung up the phone, the phone rang again. The person says, “I was just talking to my friend Leigh and she was telling me about this survey system.” As I hung up the phone, the phone rang again. This went on for an hour or so, nonstop. When I get to the last person, the lady says to me, “Can you hold on just a moment?” I said, “Yeah.” She passes the phone to the next person. The person says, “We’ve been trying to get through but the line just rings busy. I’m looking for the same survey system.” I said, “Fantastic.” She says, “Hold on.” She passes the phone to the next person.
I’m a visual person. I hear, see and read in pictures. In my mind, I can imagine them sitting in the rows of an auditorium passing the phone from person to person because at the end of that morning, about three hours later, I closed with over 300 new customers buying that survey system. It’s a story all about delivering the best work to people. This is one of the advice that I give to businesses that I work with. You give the best service that you possibly can regardless of the dollar amount. I’m building websites that cost $10,000, $15,000, $20,000and here’s someone with just a couple of hundred bucks. I never knew that spending the time to deliver that for her would lead me to a day when I would make over 300 closes in one day and later on take me to over 3,000 customers.
You must have called Leigh and said, “By the way, thank you so much for mentioning that. Here is your check for commission on all the sales you brought me.”
She refused. As a thought leader, her goal in life is simply to share with others what’s working. She was happy to do so. She’s someone that I have worked with nonstop in creating new software and solutions ever since.
Can you tell us whether the survey stuff that you create is built from regularly, commercially available software or is this a custom software program that you’ve developed?
This is a custom proprietary software that I built available online, Think-Reputation.com. It’s available to everyone. It’s something that will definitely help to elevate your business. The reason why it does is by you, the owner or associate, sending out the request to collect feedback in advance. It almost allows people to get it out of their system, good or bad. By getting ahead of it, you potentially can eliminate some of the negative that’s out there. We’ve all experienced someone writing a review about us that’s not so good. It’s impossible to get rid of so why not get ahead of the curve?
I love the systemization of what you did. I love your process-oriented thinking and the fact that you anticipated this in advance. This is really great stuff. I really want to thank you for sharing this with the community. I have another question. When you get bad feedback or when something comes through and it’s not good, do you recommend that the company respond? How quickly should they do that?
I always recommend that they respond. I recommend that they respond immediately. I recommend they pick up the phone though. Pick up the phone, have a conversation. If there’s an opportunity to right a wrong, do so. Sometimes it’s just not a good fit. Just leaving things as much as possible on good terms sometimes just has to be enough.
Angel, you have shared some absolute gems that I know will benefit our listeners immensely. I’ve got a couple of questions. These two questions are my favorite questions to ask everybody. Who, in all of space and time, would you like to have one hour to enjoy a walk in the park, a quick lunch or an intense conversation with?
I have a couple of people. First of all, I know people will judge me but that’s okay. I love George W. Bush. I think he is one of the funniest people. I would love just to have a good old time with him. From a business perspective, I am most interested in Sara Blakely. The reason why I love Sara Blakely and would love to have a conversation with her is, first of all, she’s the founder of Spanx. She did enter into an existing marketplace with an existing similar product. She was able to bring new insight into it. She effectively penetrated the marketplace and she gained a huge market share. I just want to know how.
Both are good choices. By the way, when I get this set up for you and you and George go for that walk, can I come along? Because I’d love to listen in.
I promise it will be fun because I think he’s a fun person.
He is. I remember I was living in Dallas, Texas when he came into office as governor for the first time. He was very passionate about guns. The first thing he did was to sign a law that allowed people to concealed-carry in the city of Texas. That created so much love for the guy. People either loved him or hated him at that point, but a lot of people were really, really happy that he just made the decision and made that happen. I remember that very distinctly. The next question is one of these questions that may require a little thought. It’s called the change the world question. What is it that you are doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to literally change the world?
My heart’s desire in every area of my life is to help people, whether it be on my personal side or my business side. From a business perspective, I simply want to be seen as a center of influence, as a thought leader. I want to help as many people by teaching them how to not put the cart before the horse, really creating a plan, really identifying their customer. I do know that it changes the world so much. If people could be more effective at what it is they do, they can make a stronger and solid living for them and their family, which means it makes it easier to send their kids to college and save for their future. If I can affect the life of one person, then I think I’ve done a good job.
Angel Fields, I have a feeling you have and will continue your effect and change the lives of many, many people. Fantastic information, really appreciate your presence, your charm, your humor. I know that you have something special just for Your First Thousand Clients listeners. Can you tell us what that is?
I want you to go to my website, www.ThinkBig4Me.com. There you’re going to see a whitepaper that you can go ahead and download. It’s the Seven Steps to 1,000 Clients within Twelve Months. I think it will really help you.
Angel, thank you so much for being on the show. Thank you for sharing your brilliance. I hope you and I get to talk again soon.
Thanks you so much. i appreciate it.
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