This episode was recorded live at the Social Media Marketing World Conference in San Diego, California. We spoke with Clinton Cobia, COO of 98 Buck Social, about small-scale social media marketing and how his business is able to thrive by scaling down.
Robert Brill: [00:00:00] Hey, everyone, before we get started with this episode of the LA Business Podcast, we have a little bit of a change of venue. We recorded, these episodes live at the Social Media Marketing World Conference in San Diego, California. Um. And I met some really interesting people and, record these episodes live because I wanted to hear their stories and I want to bring them to you.
So, I hope you enjoy the podcast and hope you know the episode and I hope you can forgive the sound quality that you might hear the background noise. All right, here we go.
Intro: [00:00:43] Welcome to the LA business podcast of forum for business owners and senior executives to share the experiences about the elements that drive their success. Your host is Robert Brill, CEO of Brillmedia.co, an Inc 500 company delivering the power of hyper-local advertising. Robert writes for Forbes Inc and Ad trade publications, our goal is to bring you the stories about successes and failures of people who are making big things happen in marketing, entrepreneurship and management.
Robert Brill: [00:01:21] Hey everyone, we are here at Social Media marketing World and, our guest on this episode is Clint Cobia, Chief Operating Officer at 98 Bucks Social. Clint has some interesting stories for us around process, building a team and, growing a business. Thanks for being on the show, Clint.
Clint Cobia: [00:01:39] Yeah, no problem. I appreciate you having me, Robert. This is really great.
Robert Brill: [00:01:41] So, Clint, earlier when we met, you brought up some really interesting ideas around growing a business, tell us a little bit about 98 Bucks Social, how you got involved and what your overall, what your jam is.
Clint Cobia: [00:01:56] Yeah, yeah, definitely. So a 98 bucks social, we do social media marketing, in management for businesses of all sizes.
we kind of really focused on bringing a social media to smaller businesses that really don’t have the budget to be able to, you know, get into a lot of the higher-level social media marketing aspects. so we started, 98 Bucks Social. We have packages starting as low as $98, obviously. But one of the biggest things with that is, you know, we have to, as a business, you still have to be able to make money and do, while you’re charging $98, which is pretty difficult.
Robert Brill: [00:02:34] So a couple of questions. What kinds of clients are you are working with you for $98, and what are you doing? What are you doing for them?
Clint Cobia: [00:02:41] Yeah. So, the $98 package just starts a daily posting on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. So, he posts five to six days a week, depending on what the client wants, if they just want a Monday through Friday deal.
so, we kind of consider that the foundation of their social media marketing efforts, you know, so we’ll work them all the way up from the daily posting to a next level. We say, you know, would be, helping them out, in growing their following. And then finally getting them into conversion-based advertising once they have the budget to be able to do that.
Robert Brill: [00:03:12] So those are progressively more expensive services that you offer.
Clint Cobia: [00:03:15] Exactly, exactly. So, we kind of offer like an Alcart solution where we made the business at what they can afford basically at that time.
Robert Brill: [00:03:24] So immediately our discussion, moved to process because, as I’ve learned over the last year, process is incredibly important.
And especially I imagine a large volume of your clients are on the lower overall costs, you have to have process. And I imagine you’re saying no a lot. Yup. Or enforcing your process. Tell us about how you grew the business and tell us about process stuff.
Clint Cobia: [00:03:52] Sure, sure. So, we have a, I think the two things that attributed to our success had been our processes and our packages. So the big thing being, with the packages kind of, feeding into the processes as well. Um. With the sales team, you know, clearly defining the packages, letting clients that are coming in know, Hey, you know, this is exactly what you’re going to get for this package if you’re looking for something else and we can do that for you, but it’s in a different package.
and then, you know, ensuring that we have those, all of our processes clearly defined for our entire team. which allowed us to scale to the point that we’re at now. So, as we’re talking now, we have just under 1300 clients that we post for daily. so, you know, you kind of have to ensure that everything is very, very clear for your employees, from, you know, a job description all the way through their daily schedule.
You know exactly what you need to handle, when you need to handle it and how to handle it. when I say that though, I don’t want you to think that I’m like, we’re micromanaging by any means because there’s a lot of stuff that we, a lot of rope that we give our, employees, because, you know, we treat everybody as grown up.
Like it’s, you know, there’s, we don’t have like a specific time that, that our employees even have to be in, you know, like, yeah, show up generally around nine to five. But if you come in at nine 23 like we don’t really care, you’ve got a set amount of a work to do, you know, everyday. So, we trust you, you’re a grownup.
Get it done in the allotted amount of time. You know.
Robert Brill: [00:05:21] So tell us about enforcing the rules. And the reason this is particularly important to me, my partner and I. So, I have an advertising business and separately, I have this really great resource and this woman named Brandy out of Canada, and she and I are starting this marketing business.
We’re focused on advertise. This is marketing, landing pages, email drip campaigns. Sure. And we had a, a very early. challenge. We, we had a client and we, we messed it up. We didn’t give any service levels. We didn’t give any ETA. We didn’t put stuff in writing that we should have. And fundamentally, we didn’t do the obvious process things that I’m like, Oh, we should have done this stuff.
Clint Cobia: [00:06:04] So hindsights, 20, 20.
Robert Brill: [00:06:06] Hindsight is 20, 20, and we’ve got a lot of great learnings. Although we alienated one client, luckily, it’s not going to be the end all be all for the for the business.
Clint Cobia: [00:06:13] Yeah.
Robert Brill: [00:06:14] So, but here’s my question, right? Like how do you. How do you say no to a client or establish, the guard rails from what you do in a way that’s honest, respectful, speaks to the integrity of your business, but also keeps your client really happy?
Clint Cobia: [00:06:32] Sure. Great question. Um. So basically, what we try to do is we really focus on social media. You know, so like we have a lot of clients even that’ll come in and only certain parts of social media. So, we only deal specifically with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram and Pinterest, sorry. one last one there.
So, we have five social platforms that we know that’s like clearly defined. Like, this is what we work with. We don’t work outside of that. So, a client comes in or potential client, Hey, I really need YouTube. Well, to be totally honest with you, like I could go through a huge long explanation as to why we won’t do YouTube.
We can’t, you know, at a 98-dollar budget you are not sending someone out to make videos for you and then post daily and all this stuff, you know, like obvious thing or things that you would think would be obvious, just kind of coming from a marketing background, but a lot of the clientele, you know, aren’t coming from that kind of background.
But, not just that, but, I think it gets a lot easier because we, do say upfront like these are the five platforms that we work with. And then to be totally honest, we pretty much offer almost every service with inside of those platforms. So, we clearly defined. This is what we do do. If you’re interested in like Google AdWords, we have a partner that we can send you to that we as a trusted partner.
but we don’t handle that part, you know? So, it’d be, it makes it a lot easier with that. And then I guess the next step is ensuring that we do offer the right level of service inside of those social platforms. So. like we get people that come in all the time. Like I said, you know, Hey, I need help with SEO and, and ad words and, you know, social media, but they don’t really know what they need help with.
And then they’re trying to do everything all at once. So, a big, I wouldn’t really call it a strategy, but it’s something that’s really helped us out a lot, especially with my, sales team. Is to kind of walk the client through, you know, what they’re looking for, and clearly define what they need, you know, especially early on.
so like I said, people come in and saying that they need everything digital, and then the reality is they have the budget for, you know, one platform.
Robert Brill: [00:08:33] Right.
Clint Cobia: [00:08:34] You know what I mean? so. It’s really good to kind of consult in that way. And one of the things that we really focus on, you know, is that consult consultation for the, potential clients.
And then, being able to kind of coach them a little bit, cause a lot of them, you know, they’re, they’re just trying to make an extra buck. Some of them it’s a side hustle. Some of them it’s their baby and they’ve been doing this for 10 years, but they just haven’t done anything digital, you know, so we’re just trying to make sure that we help them as much as we possibly can within their budget.
Robert Brill: [00:09:06] And their framework and what they want to do, right?
Clint Cobia: [00:09:10] Yeah.
Robert Brill: [00:09:10] You can see it’s, it’s pretty clear. You can service them.
Clint Cobia: [00:09:13] Yeah.
Robert Brill: [00:09:13] It’s a question of does the advertiser want to pay for the services that you want?
Clint Cobia: [00:09:17] Yeah, exactly.
Robert Brill: [00:09:18] So how so 1300 clients, that’s incredible. Congratulations. That’s a, that’s a huge win. Like our goal is a thousand clients.
Clint Cobia: [00:09:27] Yeah.
Robert Brill: [00:09:28] And for this new, we’re calling it spot on marketing. Nice. And so my question is like, what, how did, I imagine that process was a big part of how you grew, but it’s never a simple, this is a sort of a softball question, right?
Was it as simple as. You have an idea. You now come in and Institute the process. You formed the guardrails. . And the business explodes. What’s..
Clint Cobia: [00:09:57] I wish all the charts look like that, but I tell you what, it’s just exactly like everybody says. You know, like it’s a crazy squiggly line of up and downs that, you know, goes towards success.
but the reality is, you know, we’ve been around for just over four and a half years now. And, I partnered up with a business three and a half years ago. when I came on, we had I think like a hundred clients maybe. and my main focus was setting up for scalability. or getting us set up for scalability.
and we’ve found, you know, it wasn’t just always like, oh my gosh, everybody wants to do this. You know, there’s a huge negative connotation actually around a lot of what we offer because people see it as, especially in the industry, you know, like we’re undercutting them. Or we’re not offering the level of service that most people would get, but contrary to popular belief, you know, like I said before, we do a lot of consultation, with our potential clients.
so when they come in, you know, we let them know exactly what to expect at what level. We did a lot of throwing things against the wall to see what stuck, you know.
Robert Brill: [00:11:06] Like what offerings or pricing.
Clint Cobia: [00:11:08] No we’ve had very consistent pricing. we had our packages from really early on.
We’ve redefined a few things here and there, just because, you know, like, Instagram stories came up and became like a popular thing, you know, and, stuff like that but anytime that we’ve redone anything with our packages, it’s been pretty minimal. but for the most part, it’s been like our own marketing or our businesses, marketing for ourselves, you know.
so we started, originally we actually did more, on Google AdWords than we did with, like on social. And then we really kind of stepped back and we’re like, we’ve got to practice what we preach. You know, like, we really need to be the master of this game in order to talk to anybody about it. You know, like, I feel like it would be, that would be not good if we didn’t really know what we were doing.
So, that being said, we got a lot of success for a lot of our clients at that time as well. So we really started focusing on that, different offerings, different funnels, different funnels, both on our site, on landing pages and within Facebook, you know, and we really started, mastering that.
So it got to the point where. Then we were really crushing sales and we kind of figured out where like, Oh man, we can scale this with just adding to the sales team, you know? And then we know our customer acquisition cost is X, so we just add this and the sales team can, or a new salesperson can bring on, you know, X amount of clients.
So do simple math and we can figure that out exactly where we want to go. The problem became the, like onboarding process. So we’ve gone through. A lot of different changes operationally with the onboarding process because as you know, in the social media world, it’s not just. Hey, I want you to do this. Okay, thanks. We’ll take it from here. It’s, Hey, I want you to do this. Okay, I need your logins. I need your admin permission. You know, I need you to connect to your, ads account and all this stuff that the client is basically signing up with us to not do that. You know?
Robert Brill: [00:13:08] And, and on top of it, there’s like two or three ways to do all those things.
Clint Cobia: [00:13:13] Yeah.
Robert Brill: [00:13:13] From the advertisers per, yeah, exactly. Manager. If you don’t have business badgers set up, it’s the settings and page roles, like all that stuff.
Clint Cobia: [00:13:19] Exactly. So, and then even something as little as like having to have Instagram connected to their Facebook, their business Instagram account connected to their Facebook account, you know, and then we have people that come in and they don’t even have Facebook.
They only have an Instagram account, so now they got to go through. It’s just, you know, there’s a lot of hurdles that people have to jump through. So, there’s been a constant optimization of that on our end. and that’s been, that’s pretty much what’s been kind of, if anything slowed the scalability of our business because.
You know, we, we’ve always kind of operated under the, if you’re not moving fast enough to break it, then it’s, then you’re not moving fast enough kind of motto. And, we’ve broken things a lot.
Robert Brill: [00:14:00] Yeah. I love that.
Clint Cobia: [00:14:01] I mean, but, but when we do, you know, it’s like a quick fix. We always kind of see it coming. Luckily, we’re, my partner and I are really still deep into the daily operations along with, you know, the, the, all the analytics of the business from soup to nuts. So, you know, just keeping that overwatch, I guess, if you will, of the business is really, and keeping our finger on the pulse with everything has allowed us to kind of see things before they actually came to fruition. So, a lot of times it’s just a quick like, Hey, okay, we need to knock 20% off of the ad spin starting next week so that we can figure this out, or, you know, whatever it is. But there have been multiple times where we’ve had to slow down on the sales side specifically because operations isn’t, handling it.
Robert Brill: [00:14:51] I love it. What does 2020, and beyond look like for you guys?
What are you guys, focusing on?
Clint Cobia: [00:14:58] Scaling, I mean, like, a lot of last year was finding, newer and better technologies to be able to help us through that onboarding period. through that, and the operations kind of. Once we get a client onboarded, and now we’ve pretty much got that in place. We’re probably training like one or two more people that are, what we consider the position, our title for the position is an account manager. So basically we went from sales team, sells a client to hand off to the onboarding team, and then depending on if that was like an easy fix or easy onboard or a tough onboard, they could talk to a whole bunch of different people and then ultimately go to social media manager, and now it’s just a single hand off. So we have the sales team, they hand off to the account manager who follows them all the way through. So the clients don’t get confused. Like I got three different emails from three people. And then ultimately we’re at a position now to where we’re back to where it’s just kind of scale with the sales team.
So, this year is big on scaling. Last year, a large portion of it, I think was . focused on operationally and this year it’s going to be focused on more on selling hazing and content creation.
Robert Brill: [00:16:10] That’s great. Two last questions. Number one, I’m a big foodie. What’s your favorite thing you like to eat down in Jupiter, Florida?
Clint Cobia: [00:16:17] Oh, favorite outfit. I mean, I’m a huge fisherman, so any kind of fresh fish, but I don’t know. I’m like really, really picky with it, so I won’t even eat it out. I think there’s a lot of places. I know for sure that I’d have fresh fish, but I’d rather go and catch it myself and bring it straight to the table and eat it.
Robert Brill: [00:16:32] Clint, how do people find you?
Clint Cobia: [00:16:35] Yeah. you can find me on LinkedIn. Colin Cobia, you can find me at our website 98buckssocial.com.
There’s a meet the team page, so we’d love to connect and learn more about your business.
Robert Brill: [00:16:49] Cool. Thank you, Clint. Appreciate it.
Clint Cobia: [00:16:50] Yeah, thanks so much.
Robert Brill: [00:16:53] Thank you for listening to this episode of the LA business podcast. If you like what we’re doing on this podcast, please consider subscribing on Apple or Google play, leaving a five-star review and sharing with your friends. If you have any questions, comments, or recommendations for a guest you’d like to hear on this podcast, please email me [email protected]
Have a fantastic day.