ViewStub: Can you tell us a little about Steve Patrick’s Top 1% and how they got started?
Cullen: My pleasure, Steve Patrick and his business partner Tony Rougas started Top 1% Coaching & Consulting in 2019. Steve was a contractor himself in the insurance restoration and roofing business in Texas. He partnered with Tony Rougas back in 2015, also successful in the appraisal and umpire space. They started an organization called Level the Playingfield (a Facebook group) to help contractors through their knowledge and wisdom from their many years in the industry.
After bringing in over 10,000 business owners to their group on Facebook, they started Top 1% out of demand from small companies asking them to speak at their events to help drive marketing and sales in the insurance restoration and roofing industry. At that point, they realized they were on to something. They created a business model to help everyone from the small business owner, the mom and pops to larger companies doing hundreds of millions a year in sales.
It’s been really cool to help them to build a brand and monetize their knowledge and wisdom. They love helping people, everyone has a talent and a skillset, and everyone has value. They’re passionate about bringing out that value out of other people in the insurance and roofing space.
ViewStub: Previous coaching events were in-person, but you’ve pivoted to virtual events once the virus hit. What were the steps you took to bring them online?
Cullen: Sure, they had been doing one-on-one coaching and speaking at tradeshows and conferences for decades. Top 1% was created in 2019 specifically for these events. We started watching it in December last year.
Then when March rolled around, we had events that we had contracted, paid deposits and booked in some of the major markets out on the road. We usually do 100 – 200 people (business owners) in-person events, educational seminars on GCO/MPE and umpire and appraisal. We were splitting them up, so we’d do one day GCO and MPE then we would do specific markets for the umpire and appraisal training.
I had the idea when this was going on, as we were making the decision to go virtual, I said why don’t we do a 2-day in-person event and bring massive value for attendees. Right about that time, we decided it’s not safe to travel with all that’s going on. We canceled the in-person event.
About that same time, we had connected with Patrick and Spencer at ViewStub and we put our heads together. In a week’s time we had put in the work to build it (the virtual event).
ViewStub: I liked how you guys jumped on board. The whole team was in it to try something new, and to adapt to the marketplace and still provide value to your audience and customers.
ViewStub: What were some of the challenges with setting up the structure of the virtual event and what are some of those things ViewStub help you do as well?
Cullen: Obviously, when you’re doing something new there are different timelines and you guys did a great job at communicating and helping us. We had a lot of concerns and questions – it was brand new territory; you don’t know what to expect. The main thing for us was just understanding how to live stream, what proper equipment is needed. I would recommend you do your homework, compare capabilities and components – not just costs but find out what works best as far as equipment. Then understanding how that fits in your budget.
Then it was having the capability to sell access to (what some would consider) a high-ticket live stream and still have the ability to connect and provide the information to the person who’s paying hard-earned money to attend the educational seminar. So, I would say the equipment is super important, then the communication between the organizer and ViewStub, and expressing our needs to you guys and making sure our demographic can use the technology. I’m big on having a story brand, having a vision and creative strategy in place.
Obviously, if it’s your first time it’s not going to be perfect. But put a little time and effort into creating the flow of the information you want to share. Especially if your event is only online and you’re live streaming (no one is there in person) they’re depending on you to relay the information to the best of your ability. That’s part of what they’re paying for is quality. So, having the format laid out really helped us.
We did it in a matter of weeks. As we were promoting it and generating sales and driving traffic to our landing page to sign up, we were doing equal parts with creating the event structure. We wanted attendees to be able to follow along with visuals to go with it.
ViewStub: Your marketing is some of the best we’ve seen for an event. Some people will have questions around this given the relatively high-ticket price for a conference and you were still able to pack the live stream event. What advice can you give for a lower end ticket conference to communicate the value of the event. What are some tips you can provide?
Cullen: Great question. I’ve spent 17 years in direct marketing and over a decade in digital. One thing I’ve learned is we all have customers and CRM (Client Relationship Management) tools to log emails, business cards and customer contacts. You should segment them as family, friends, prospects, hot leads, etc. A lot of people meet people and have money sitting in their cell phone and forget about it. I would say from guerilla marketing tactics to CRM tools, to creating a spread sheet if you don’t have a budget (to pay for a CRM tool) you can build a simple process for lead flow and pipeline.
Then figure out how you are going to follow up with them; putting them into an email drip campaign, nurturing them letting them know who you are, what you do and why you are the best. You don’t even need to be selling them, if you really care about someone, you see the value and you want the opportunity to transact and build a customer and drive revenue, then you’re going to do those steps. You’re going to reach out to them, you’re going to give them value and invest time. The people you want to connect with and are going to bring in are also people that you can learn from – not just them learn from you.
One of the techniques I would recommend is guerilla marketing style, look at your cell phone, look at your business cards, look at any and every pipeline that you have when it comes to organic lead gen, not just paid lead gen. That’s going to help you build out a bigger email drip campaign very inexpensively, then you can segment that based on X number of emails, X amount of people you want to touch.
You can do 100 at a time or 1000 at a time. Bite off what you can chew, process, present, communicate. If you have a team that can get on the phone and be relational, it’s going to drive more business, especially the higher the ticket, because people do want that customer service, they do want someone they can put a face to the name, that they can speak to and ask questions.
If they are spending $200 to $300 bucks on a product or service, usually they will want 5 to 10 minutes of your time. They will have a few questions for peace of mind that they know they are getting what they’re paying for. That’s a big tip is have customer service in line – not just through direct messaging and email.
Be relational, not transactional. If you can have a live customer service representative on the line during your business hours, I would say that definitely helps. So, customer service, email drip campaigns, and again look in your cell phone – there’s business in your phone. There are people in your phone that need your help and you haven’t followed up with them enough if they haven’t said “no thank you” or “let’s do it”.
Consider a CRM. Invest the money, there are great CRMs out there. Store all those leads, then hit ‘em with an email drip campaign.
What has been really successful for us, we go after the markets and demographics targeted for our niche. The more niche you are the more you are going to be able to offer your service and product for a higher price. Target your niche and learn how you can service customers in that niche. Run retargeting campaigns with landing pages and funnels targeted by who they are, what they do, and why they’re the best.
Then run an early bird special to drive urgency but show the full price (value of the event). What you’ll find is you will drive a lot of business at the very last minute. People procrastinate, they go on vacation, they live in their bubble. They will come in last week, in the last couple of days. You’ll get a lot of business in that last week. We all want more business at the beginning, not at the end, but you take it when you can get it.
What we’ve learned is by running more retargeting and saving our ad spend budget for paid ads in that last week and a half is really when you want to push it. Also, going back to the CRM it helps that Steve Patrick and Tony Rougas and Level the Playing Field and Top 1%, their coaching and consulting business, and even ViewStub has thousands of contacts they have put into their CRM, so we’ve utilized those contacts to make sales and drive revenue, to be a big component of that success.
We’ve had over 300 of people (show up between the four events). With that (success) came because we had a foundation, we had leads, we put them in a CRM, we put them in an email drip campaign.
All you need is an email on facebook and Instagram, now you can retarget or remarket just with that email address. Those are some tips to try for smaller budget or larger budget, to run a paid ad, run a drip campaign, building out lead flow and ideal prospects and a pipeline of people to engage with to sign up for their event.