How To Start & Grow Your Business

Jacob Curtis, digital marketer, on his experience

Laurie Sluser
Jun 6th, 2016
  • Biography

    Branding by Jacob, LLC represents a culmination of academic education, industry experience and quite a bit of experimentation.

    Using the best of my ability and practicing #heartinmind marketing, my services have been strategically crafted to leverage community management and persuasive content to help likable businesses and individuals make an impact.

  • #1 Tip for Startups

    Put systems in place. It’s the hardest thing that you’re ever going to do but it is the only way to be consistent, grow your business and be able to, when you do grow your business, be able to duplicate yourself because you cannot do it all.

How he brings value to clients

I’m a big fan of community management. I think being born and raised in Hawaii, I very much live “aloha” and I’m very empathetic to people, so I do see people and communities as something that I naturally have an affinity to.

Really, what I provide for clientele is a 5-stage process. First of all, I do a check and health inspection and see what’s going on with their business. I’m not going to start doing their social media, which is my strong point, if their website is not converting. So I do a diagnosis of that, check their Google analytics, and just see the health of their web properties.

From there, I’ll start building the branding and new facelift imagery for it, such as new cover images, and get some consistent branding across the board. I’ll go into a content strategy where I’ll figure out who they are and more importantly, who their audience is and not necessarily who they are currently bringing in, but I’ll figure out if that’s even the right audience they’re trying to target.

I’ll then do a little bit of demographics, background, psychology and marketing. Understanding what makes those people tick and creating content that empowers them – it’s a very reciprocal community-based relationship that I bring to the table.

I complete step four by developing that content strategy and then step five would be running analytics, monitoring and making adjustments as we go. The centralized theme is all about the community management aspect.

I think a lot of companies right now are more interested in who their audience is, not so much how big it is.

How he got to where he is today

I’m very fortunate to have had trials and errors while I was in college as the marketing director for a student TV station. I was also learning in class about communication theory. I learned everything from the way people have sold things throughout history and how they manage moods because, essentially, that is what marketing is. It’s about trying to elevate somebody out of a current crappy state of mind and have them think, “Wow! I want to be that. I want that.”

I was taught in class how to interpret what I’m seeing in the media whether that’s a commercial, magazine, article, print ad, et cetera. How does media make me feel and why? And then, if I can interpret that then I can make somebody else feel that way.

I graduated from Oregon State in 2010. Immediately after that, I tried to get into the industry somehow. There were no real business entities on Facebook yet at that time.

I went and applied for this job at a company that was a Google AdWords reseller. I went in for an interview there, but I wasn’t really in tune with the Google AdWords because I was fresh out of college so I ended up talking to their social media team next.

They said they were starting this brand new Facebook division of the sales team and they hired me to be their first salesperson.

So right when I got out of college, I was cold calling about 60 businesses a day across the US and Canada about Facebook, and this was their first calls ever hearing about Facebook in the marketing aspect.

Business People in Office Building

How he sticks out from the crowd

One person I definitely like to refer you to is Mark Schaefer. He has this term “content shock,” where everybody can create content. There’s so much out there, but the amount of content somebody can consume is finite. There’s an amount to that. Mark is on point about the whole idea of this content shock and how to not only create content but what he terms, “ignite it”.

One thing that I found personally then, as well as for my clients, is the most unique perspective you have is your own point of view. While a lot of people can rehash or regurgitate a lot of what other people are saying, I think it’s important to find what may not be the easiest to create, but is the most necessary.

I observe what takes place each day and there’s always a great example to talk about, without mentioning names or conversations. That’s what I write about. It’s the personal experience. I learned over time, in sales, you have to become somewhat personal in your writing. That’s what people relate to. My blog posts are a quick, fun read, but my audience gets some insights out of them, and I always receive nice compliments.

Ultimately what I started to do was to stand out. This is like my success story today. I wanted to differentiate myself as Jacob Curtis and define who that person was and so previously, my blog was all about different things, my favorite video techniques, my favorite spaghetti recipe, etc. I found that why would someone sign up for that when it’s not consistent resource of what they can expect to get from me.

I did some searching and I found that there weren’t a lot of video tutorials out there yet that were screen capture-based. There were some that were 50 minutes to answer simple questions, like how do you update a cover photo. So what I did is I just created this social media minute and I set that up on my YouTube channel and fed that into my blog. They’re 1 to 2-minute videos of me in front of the camera. I introduce myself and show a screen capture of how to do it. I end with, “Hey, see you next week.” From there, I really started to build that – people started to recognize me online because of the profile picture. That’s something I feel is very necessary.

How he builds communities

It really depends on what stage of marketing the client is in. If the client is just getting on Facebook for the first time, and they don’t have that initial audience built yet, you would definitely want to check across what current resources they have available to them. I think when it comes down to all aspects of marketing, one of the reasons I stopped and did my own company was because I needed control over all of what’s going on. Ultimately for me at this level, I’ve been redlining social media and digital marketing for the last few years since I graduated as well as in college.

When it comes down to “content shock,” people are really going to be only subscribing to the people they want to be hearing from. That’s a big portion of where the community management aspect comes in. Whether you’re B2B, B2C, everybody is trying to talk. It’s really a party going on.

Now finding out that someone who comments on a post also writes a blog on tech and commenting as somebody from your company is figuring out who the person is behind the logo. I think that’s why the community management is huge. I think the follow-up is important.

Network of social connections/in form of molecule

What types of clients he works with

One of the clients I’m dealing with currently is more so an e-commerce site. They create these diecast models of Caterpillar equipment and they’re very expensive models. There’s an international aspect of it too; kind of a world-renowned brand.

I’ve worked with a bunch of different types of clients. I only have this client now on a recurring basis because I just finished up three other websites for a float shop and a lawyer and cigar company.

I don’t necessarily have a lot of clientele right now, but I can answer any questions you have about community management and give advice. People are people and an audience in need of something is an audience in need of something. I feel a community manager or anybody who is into digital marketing really needs to be a chameleon when it comes down to just finding what people want and giving to them.

His favorite tools of the trade

I use Dropbox for file management and then I use Zoho CRM for basic task management and delegating tasks out to other members of my team. I do a lot on Twitter, and for that, there’s a great site called Triberr. Essentially, it’s a site for bloggers and to connect into different tribes and little groups and it’s essentially like a reciprocity sharing. So I’ll share your article, you’ll share mine. I found that to be very beneficial and it is amplifying the content that I was creating only because it was some pretty cool-looking tutorials that look pretty polished.

From there, I try to keep it very minimal to what I need. And that’s on purpose I guess. I don’t want to be spending a lot or have a bunch of tools. One thing I think with tools is there are so many out there that do different things. It’s about finding which ones work together to create that one thing that you need.

Recommended Reading

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Basically, it’s about why we do what we do in business. It’s about understanding the fundamentals of what makes a habit, how to make them, how to break, and how to shape them. It’s just really great for versatile things.

The Power of Habit

Technology Giants

I admire any brand who is just really taking the time to communicate authentically with their community. I’m a big people person and when I see that, I appreciate it. Just someone who has taken the time to be human across the screen and communicate with their audience. That’s very inspiring for me. Other than that, I think anybody who has that perseverance and determination to go ahead and get their company out there along side some of these bigger companies like Google or Amazon.

Advice for Entrepreneurs

I break it into three parts. Let’s say a business is brick and mortar, aside from just the business logistics, it’s important to really maximize on the grand opening – including pre-grand opening, during the grand opening, and post-grand opening. This covers everything from building awareness through Facebook ads in your targeted area where you’re going to be opening prior to the event, or having the correct signage at the event that’s going persuade people to follow up with you on different channels. If you get people to subscribe online, then you can follow up with them post grand opening. That’s my advice for anybody doing the brick and mortar starting of their business.

Other than that, one thing that I’ve done personally is I had an audience first before I started my business through the resource and building my personal brand, I have a lot of traffic and email subscribers. I’ve never had a “Contact me for a service” as tab on my site for the last five years. So I’m about to finally put that on. I’m only confident in launching that business, not only because of my team that I’m now working with, but also because of this audience and people and community that I built based upon providing free resources for them.

Also, secure your URLs and secure your social URLs, even if you’re not going to use the page.

About the Author

Laurie Sluser

CEO and Co-Founder of bizHUMM. Laurie was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. He has managed either his own companies or other small businesses for the past 30 years. Laurie first co-founded a national marketing company, growing it to over 3 million dollars in revenue within 3 years. He sold the company and moved with his wife and son to the United States where he now resides in Fairfield, Iowa. For the past 15 years (until late 2013), he served as General Manager of a software engineering staffing firm, which he led to ten-fold growth in revenue with over 25 million dollars in gross sales. Laurie became a proud U.S. citizen in 2012 and later co-founded bizHUMM to help and support entrepreneurs to launch and grow their own small businesses.