We spoke with Courtney Tarrant about the struggles her own media company went through, and how she pushed forward and created growth for her business.
Robert Brill: [00:00:00] Hey, everyone, before we get started with this episode of the LA business podcast, uh, we have a little bit of a change of venue. We recorded, uh, these episodes live at the Social Media Marketing World Conference in San Diego, California. And I met some really interesting people and, I record these episodes live because I wanted to hear their stories and I wanted to bring them to you.
So, I hope you enjoyed 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, a 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: [00:01:20] Hi everyone. Welcome to another episode of the LA Business Podcast. Today are in interviewing Courtney, Terrance, CEO and founder of Courtney Tarrant Media.
Thanks for being here.
Courtney Tarrant: [00:01:31] Thanks for having me.
Robert Brill: [00:01:32] So we connected as Social Media and Marketing World Conference. What is this called?
Courtney Tarrant: [00:01:37] Social Media Marketing World 2020 I think it’s like this hashtag that’s going around
Robert Brill: [00:01:41] Good it’s the specifics that I get lost on, okay, so we connected. You had some really fantastic growth in your business.
Tell us what you do and tell us. Just give us a little bit of an introduction of who you are and how you got here.
Courtney Tarrant: [00:01:54] Yeah. Okay. So, I am the founder of Courtney Tarrant Media. We are a Facebook and Instagram ads agency, so we’re media buyers. and in 2019 we actually grew by 400%. And I went from like.
What I call the face of my business is a struggle bus. We went from sort of this like really trying to reinvent the wheel period where we would have like immense growth and then a total flat line and then immense growth. There’s like a huge roller coaster to just like consistent month over month transactions, growing our client base and really, I mean growing our skills, we’re also growing our team.
And learning how to create not only successful campaigns for our clients, but also successful relationships with those clients that we retained them long term.
Robert Brill: [00:02:38] So there’s definitely an ebb and flow. You grow a decline, you grow a decline, and then it grows for 100% what were the things that you’ve learned during those downturns that ultimately resulted in the upswing that you experienced.
Courtney Tarrant: [00:02:54] It was like a few things, right? I think the number one thing is I’ve always been really passionate about serving my clients and wanting them to get great results, but I focused so much on doing whatever I could for them in their business that I tried to be the Jack of all trades instead of saying in my zone of genius, which not only doesn’t serve them, but it wasn’t serving me in my business either.
And so really. Being okay with claiming my expertise and saying, this is what I know I’m good at and this is what I know I can help you with and here is my network of awesome people that can help you with all those other things that maybe I don’t specialize in. So that was my very first thing was setting up those boundaries with my clients and knowing and understanding that I can love you and believe in you and like be dedicated to your growth.
Whilst. Still like staying in my lane, so to speak. And then I think the other thing that I fought and fought against just throughout the growth of my business was the idea of support. I wanted to do everything all on my own all of the time, because that’s where the real powerful stories come from, right?
That’s what people talk about is I built this brand from nothing and, and I did everything on my own, and it was when I stepped into this place of understanding that it was okay to be supported, that I not only like being supported in my business, didn’t have to write every single email or post every single post or reach out to every client and solve all of their world problems.
I got to a point in my business where one of my clients was calling me about her marital problems at one point. And so it was just this huge, like, I have to do all of the things for all of the people and I have to do it on my own. stepping into that support in my business and getting not only an assistant, but also somebody that can help me implement my strategy and really grow my team of wonderfully talented people, around me supporting me and my business that way.
But I think also. At home and being okay that I don’t cook dinner every single night and hiring somebody to clean my house and like taking my dogs to the groomer instead of washing them myself. Like those little pieces of just like stepping into being supported and understanding that that cost is an opportunity for me to then focus on my business because I’m not trying to clean the house for five hours on a Friday, and I’m not trying to be all things to all people and really stepping into that zone of genius, which I think is ultimately related to business growth and then marketing strategy when it comes to Facebook and Instagram ads.
Robert Brill: [00:05:27] So it’s interesting. I’ve told my wife the exact same things.
Uh, not that I was ever going to be cleaning the house for five hours, but even though really poorly thought out meals that I’ve created that ultimately ended up burning, I was like. Okay, so I should be working.
And my wife got on board with that and she’s, uh, she’s my business. I call her HQ.
She’s my business partner. And it’s, I think there’s a lot of entrepreneurs who, when they figure that out, things change dramatically for them. Okay. So you, you had some sort of insights into the way you need to spend your time. and so what started happening where you were you turning away clients that were not the right fit.
I feel like the trend, the, the theme of the things that I’ve been talking about with people with one of my business partners with another interview that I just did is about the power of saying no, and it seems like there’s some, there’s something around that for you.
Courtney Tarrant: [00:06:30] Absolutely. The power of saying no in my personal life, but also the power of saying no inside of my agency and being okay to say, Hey, this is not the right fit.
And so. One of the other things that I implemented is an audit process for every single client that comes through my doors. Like we sit down and we audit their account before we ever say yes. We go into their back end of their website in their ads, and we say. What is actually happening before we decide to take you, take you on as a client.
Because everybody, if the whole like myth around Facebook and Instagram ads and advertising in general is you can go in, put in a dollar and you get $5 back. Like that’s the dream. And they’re like, if that’s the case, I’ll spend $1 million on Facebook ads. And like they come to you with this almost pipe dream. I’m going to spend limitless amounts of money with you if you can just make this work. But there’s so much that goes into making those ads work. So, finding the right fit for the businesses. That are not only like personally, like a good fit with you and your agency and won’t be calling you up at 2:00 AM with another crisis, but also are in a good place in their business where they’re ready to scale.
And so part of what we talk about is scaling from six to seven figures. And beyond. And so, we have limited spaces in our agency for those seven figure guys because they require a different kind of, and a different level of support. And then we have a space in our agency for people that are looking to scale from six to seven figures, because that’s a whole other animal.
And I think once you get to that point of six figures, you have what I call a proven concept of a business that is working, that, that doesn’t need to be revamped or reinvented. We don’t have to rebuild your website and build out funnel pages and also do all of your email marketing. We’re focusing on scaling and growth, which is really what I think Instagram and Facebook ads are good for.
Robert Brill: [00:08:19] You know, one of the things, so there’s, we, we have, um. And this is a selfish ask because I’m curious about your thoughts on this. We have these enterprise clients where we work with agencies and these agencies. We don’t have connection to the end advertiser. We serve the agency. That’s our client. and we’re rolling out this like package of services that are really focused in on small advertisers like a dance studio or just a plumber or a dentist. Yeah. Very different than like selling tickets on ticket master tickets to Cardi B or whatever. Different, formats. And, the, the challenges, we are trying to find the clients that are not the right clients for us. So we know ahead of time like, no.
Yeah. Like, I can spot you from a mile away. You’re not the right type of client. And this is such a foreign concept to me because with the power of advertising, it’s like it can change the world. Which sounds so weird.
Courtney Tarrant: [00:09:26] I guess I’m on the same page though. It’s that opportunity to amplify a message and a message that matters to every, to these people, the business owners, but also the communities that you’re impacting so I totally agree.
Robert Brill: [00:09:39] So, so I guess my question is like. It’s, it’s taken me such a long time to learn that concept of there’s a right customer for you and the wrong customer for you. Like how have you identified the right customer and the wrong customer? How, does a business owner go about doing that?
Courtney Tarrant: [00:09:58] Yeah, so I think a lot of it comes through trial and error.
I know it’s discouraging at some on some level because you’re like, well, I would just really like the answer before I have to go through all this pain and heartbreak. But I think that that pain and heartbreak sort of like chisels out for you what is a good fit and what is a wrong fit. Because sometimes you can’t identify that until you’ve been in a wrong fit situation and you are like, Oh, and now I can spot that person from a mile away because there’s so much pain and heartache that happened in that moment.
and I think for, for me and in my agency, what I did was that I, I served, I was all things to all people for so long and I serve such a wide audience that really, it wasn’t until I brought support into my, my own business that I had an assistant actually, which this is such an unlikely source, but I was talking to her about all the clients that you have to work with and how we need like who I want to go after and how we need to grow.
And she was like, well, who do you want to work with. And no one had ever asked me that question before, who I wanted to work with. I was just taking work from anywhere and everywhere because I needed to make this happen, right? I needed to build this thing from nothing. And so that question of who did I want to work with made me sort of step back and self-exam and who were my clients that I really loved and how could I reverse engineer them?
And for me it was. Passionate entrepreneurs, people who had a, a product or a service that they loved, that they would like die for, that they could defend and that they believed would change the world. and then even deeper on a deeper level, it was people who were selling products directly because for a lot of my clients who were service providers.
I was getting them a lot of leads that in a way, but in a way that they weren’t supportive. They weren’t ready for that growth. So they were handed a hundred, a hundred, 200 leads a month, and then they were like, what do I do with this? How do I handle this influx of business? And then. It fell flat. And that reflected on to our work.
And it caused tension in our own relationships of, well, the leads that you’re giving me aren’t converting, but what does your follow-up process look like? And all of those things. And so that for me, wasn’t a good fit. But what was a good fit was the clients that were passionate about this new brand or this new idea or concept they had released into the world that they thought was going to make a difference, that they thought had the power to change lives.
and those are the people that I love working with. And it has, it has sort of transitioned and transformed into eCommerce business owners who are at that six-figure level who are passionate and ready to scale and, and ready to ultimately like live a life that they love. I also love equipping my clients to take a step back from their business.
You don’t have to be the engine driving this anymore. As advertisers, like we can take on that burden for you. Like we can make those sales happen while you have a weekend away with your family. We can make those sales happen while you were at home with a sick kid. Like that’s, I think that kind of freedom and lifestyle is what I love creating for my clients.
And so, I’m really upfront and honest about that obviously, the mission is return on ad spend. The mission is increased revenue, but beyond that for me, there has to be another mission there. And so, I connect with my clients on such a deep level in that way too.
Robert Brill: [00:13:26] So let me ask you, when you hired your first and second employee, was it scary?
Courtney Tarrant: [00:13:31] Terrifying? It was an honestly, it didn’t work out. My first and second employee, I think actually even my third employee. It was a not a good fit. And it was because I was hiring for the wrong thing. So, if we just go back to what I was saying, I am so focused on passion and serving my clients in a big way.
And then I would go out and find these marketers that were like, I can create amazing results. And I had a team full of people that are very intelligent and it’s so wonderful, but were focused on results and not focused on the client. And what I realized just in this moment of exponential growth, there’s a few things.
Number one is radical responsibility for everything my team does. So saying, you know what, like we made a mistake. Instead of throwing them under the bus and saying, so-and-so did this, and there are new part of their team and we’ll handle it. Really saying, my team, they’re my people. They’re an extension of me.
And so if something wrong happens, like. I’m ultimately responsible for that. And I accept that. And that made my team feel more comfortable. And also, we make clients feel more comfortable, but also skills can be taught, but like empathy and a passion and drive, those are qualities that cannot be taught, that aren’t, that don’t just come with every person.
and so that’s what I hire for now. And now I have an amazing team of people around me that. Are so driven and so passionate, but also so kind and so generous to our clients. Not only with like their time and their skills, but also just in the way that they even deliver reports. which for me was so important because that’s, those are the kinds of clients that I work with and that’s what they come to me for.
Robert Brill: [00:15:11] Where does process play into your, your growth?
Courtney Tarrant: [00:15:14] Oh, processes. Yes. I actually, this is a big pain point because I think when you, when you have that first year of exponential growth, like you can get by with like winging it, right? You can wing all the things and it’s all going to be fine.
And then all of a sudden you start multiplying yourself by hiring a team and you’re like, there are breakdowns and issues and like what is going on? And. You are working, you get to this phase of working more than you were working before you had a team because you’re trying to put out fires and answer questions and like be multiply yourself and be in 80 places at one time.
If those processes aren’t in place. And for me, they were not in place until I brought in support and help and I had an operations person come in and actually design processes inside of my business where when people come in and they are new hires, they go through this very like. You go from step A to step B to step C.
and this is how you communicate with clients. And we have a process library, but those pieces are, I think those pieces are so important for scalability. and what I realized is like I, I would have a cap on my income without those processes, but once those were in place, it almost feel, right now it feels just like sky’s the limit.
And we’re on track to do another. 400, 300% growth for 2020.
Robert Brill: [00:16:42] So we talked about kinda changing. It almost comes down to like mindset, right? Like changing how you look at the world.
Courtney Tarrant: [00:16:49] And I taught, I used to, I used to like say, can I curse on the podcast I used to, I used to say that like, mindset work is such bullshit.
Like people are so like. Obsessed with what you think about the world. And I’m like, if you’re talented and you’ll make it, if you’re not, you won’t. Like that’s it. Black and white. So not true. And I think that was something that I realized in this year was like I had so many limiting beliefs around myself, but also around my clients.
And when I let those things go, not only did my agency grow and like my own abilities, like expanded exponentially, but my client’s results. Shockingly seemed to follow suit and they, they were able to scale their campaigns really successfully and they were able to, to grow and to, to take that step back and go on family vacations like they really hadn’t done before.
and that’s, that’s really like the place where I think you start to see that that shift in your business and really going from potential burnout. I’m ready to die. Please don’t grow anymore. Or else like, I don’t know what I’ll do. To having this mindset of abundance, of saying like, there is enough time and there is enough space and there is enough money and like we are, there’s enough and like we’re gonna make it happen and figure it out because this is what we are made to do.
And so I think having that abundance mindset, but also knowing and understanding your purpose behind it is equally, if not more important than your skill. And where you’re at in the world are.
The person who runs by social media. He just turned 21 this, this kid named Cooper. He’s, my friend’s, uh, son.
Robert Brill: [00:18:30] Sweetest kid. Yeah. And he, we, you know, I, I spoke recently at Pepperdine university to a marketing class and he, and he remarked to me that like, I didn’t realize that you could go and do something and not have all the answers cause a lot.
Courtney Tarrant: [00:18:46] Yeah. That’s my found stuff. Yeah. Way to go Cooper.
Robert Brill: [00:18:52] And I, and certainly it took me many years to figure that out, but it’s like, no, there’s so many people who are, who like, who don’t know what I know or what you know, and they do really great things and no less than us, and they do really great things so they can do it.
I should be able to figure out, and it’s so much not about what you, it’s you have to have the fundamental skills and the technical mastery obviously. But. You can have that and still not succeed. If your mind isn’t right and you don’t, or you don’t know how to lead people or you don’t know how to sell.
Those are all the critical things. Yeah. Mindset process. So, so how do you continue your growth? Like what actions do you take to ensure you have another 400% growth year.
Courtney Tarrant: [00:19:38] The biggest, the other biggest thing that I realized in 2019 was connections and community and like networking is so important.
even inside of, in the, in the world of advertising, I think in general, but definitely inside of like Facebook and Instagram ads and media buying on social platforms, there is this spirit of like, competition. Like, please don’t look at my strategy. Like, this is what’s gonna make me $1 million and getting over that and getting through that of like really connecting with other people, not only in my space, but other people that support the people that I support. So like VA’s and techs and operations people and saying like, we’re all in this together. We’re all serving the same person. Like, Whoa, what’s going right and what’s going wrong?
And I have a mastermind now with other rock star, like social ads people. That is amazing. And we get in there and a lot of us serve the exact same people. Um. But we ourselves are different and our agencies themselves are different. And like I always tell the women in that group, I will say like, if my person is better served by going to your agency, I absolutely like let them go and like lovingly send them on their way.
because I believe I’m, I am here to serve a very specific person and no matter what they’re going to find me and like, we’re going to build an empire together, but there’s no reason for me to protect. And. And almost like stunt progress because of my own like selfish ambitions or being like, I have something that you, there’d be like, I can’t share with you.
I think that that concept of community over competition and like helping each other grow, is something that I embraced in the last year that I hadn’t embraced before. and just networking and allowing the people around me to support me. I think really it comes back to that support piece. Like, if you are in the same space as me, like let’s connect.
Let’s have a coffee. Like I’m, I’m okay with sharing my secrets with you. because I believe that we’re all, there’s enough, there’s so much abundance around us.
Robert Brill: [00:21:44] And so, so do you, do you, this is one of the things I’m sort of like trying to figure out. I don’t, I’m getting various people’s opinions on, do you have some sort of like template or process that you sell into the advertiser, or is everything starting from a place of completely blank page? We could go any direction on this. How do you generally, for our enterprise, and I’ll tell you just context for our enterprise clients, we start from a blank page because every advertiser is different and it’s often driven by our agency client a and we offer the tools and capabilities to, our tagline is advertise like a fortune 500 brand. Without spending a fortune. We give those capabilities and make them make them viable. but separately for the small clients or the dance studios and the dentists and the plumbers, we think we have to go to market as, here’s a proven specific template that you will buy.
Completely customized. like to your messaging and your imagery. But like the template is customized. So, but, but I don’t like the word proven process because that sounds like it is plugging you into a socket and you’re just going to do it. So how do you talk about templates and archetypes or do you just start from blank with
Courtney Tarrant: [00:23:08] Within like Facebook and Instagram ads, the process of these are our most valuable, typically most valuable clients.
And these are our most valuable. Profitable and successful ads is really similar, right. So like, video content performs really well. Look alike. Audiences at top of funnel are gold re-targeting a bottom of funnel. Getting back in front of people who have been on your website is an amazing con. Like these are just what I would consider to be, like basic truths in the world of Facebook.
Yeah. And the world of Facebook and Instagram advertising. And so, what we. What we do though is we take it one step further and say like, how does this fit into your processes and how does this fit into what you’re doing? And looking at all of those pieces of data and continue it, continuing to improve upon those things.
I have like a system or process that works really well for my clients, but I also, I believe that everything is worth testing. So, there is always about 10% of my client’s budgets are for testing exclusively. And I’m very upfront and honest about that because if I did not do that in, in the world of Facebook and Instagram ads, things changed so quickly.
If I did not do that, I would not be working in the best interest of you as the client because things would change and then it would no longer work and we wouldn’t know why. And we wouldn’t know what direction to go in. And so, in the world of social media, things are changing so quickly that I think it’s that, uh, a process or a template wouldn’t work long-term, but it’s totally a beautiful starting place. It’s a beautiful foundation upon which to build that empire that you’re hoping to scale to.
You specifically do ad buying. You don’t do, like, you don’t build funnels, you don’t write copy. So, we write copy and we have connections that help with funnel building.
and those kinds of things. We do website audits. a lot of what our knowledge is contributed to is like, how can we. Help you get to your goals. but exclusively like what most of our clients are contracting us to do, just based on where they’re at in their skill. They have funnels built out, they have an email CRM, they have a website that is functioning pretty well.
And what we help them do is just scale and grow inside of Facebook and Instagram, for amazing, like 10 X results in a short period of time. Yeah.
Robert Brill: [00:25:38] I love it. Um. Okay. A couple more questions. So you’re based in Texas?
Courtney Tarrant: [00:25:46] I am, yeah.
You handle clients all across the country? I do. Around the world, actually.
Robert Brill: [00:25:51] Food question. What’s your favorite thing to eat?
Courtney Tarrant: [00:25:55] Oh my gosh. Food. I saw, I live in Texas, so obviously I love probably chips and salsa and also tacos are really like head to head for me. I love tacos, but. My comfort food is totally chips and salsa, and I’m actually from originally like the Southern part and from Houston and in Houston what I’ve noticed, this is not the case across all of Texas or even across all the United States. All of our salsa comes hot, so it’s not just like a cold, like going to a restaurant, having like a cold bowl of salsa. It’s like very odd. Yeah, it’s like warm, like steaming hot and like, it’s like that to me is so comforting and so like chips and salsa and that’s all I could eat for the rest of my life. I’d be game, I’d be up for it. I might like turn into my body might not be okay with it, but I love chips and salsa for sure.
Robert Brill: [00:26:45] My go to is always like hamburgers from anywhere. Even McDonald’s I like, but like burgers.
Courtney Tarrant: [00:26:52] Yeah. Have you ever had a Whataburger?
Robert Brill: [00:26:55] I haven’t.
Courtney Tarrant: [00:26:56] Oh, okay. You got to come to Texas and you’ve got to try Whataburger it is. It’s just like a staple and there’s so many other things that you can get from there that are amazing, but it’s sort of, there’s like this competition amongst Texans of like In n’ Out versus Whataburger.
if you’re a true Texan, I feel that you would choose Whataburger, but I have to admit that I’m not as big of a burger fan as some other people, but there’s like real debates about it out there. So you should give it a shot.
Robert Brill: [00:27:25] How can people find you?
Courtney Tarrant: [00:27:26] so the best place to find me is on Facebook or Instagram, or on my websites.
And my website is courtneyTarrant.com. You can find me on Instagram @ CourtneyRTarrant, and then on Facebook, it’s @adsofCourtney.
Robert Brill: [00:27:41] Awesome. Courtney, Thank you.
Courtney Tarrant: [00:27:43] Thank you so much for having me. This is great.
Robert Brill: [00:27:44] Thank you.
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] thank you. Have a fantastic day.