Welcome to the Rialto Marketing podcast. Today's episode is a revenue acceleration series interview where we talk to seven figure B2B professional service firm owners that are actively trying to grow their business and get to the next level. We talk about the good, the bad and the ugly so that you can learn from their experience.

Join Tim Fitzpatrick and Amir Sachs for this week’s episode of The Rialto Marketing Podcast!

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Do What You Love

Tim Fitzpatrick
Welcome to the Rialto Marketing podcast. Today's episode is a revenue acceleration series interview where we talk to seven figure B2B professional service firm owners that are actively trying to grow their business and get to the next level. We talk about the good, the bad and the ugly so you can learn from their experience. Hi, I am Tim Fitzpatrick with Rialto Marketing, where we believe you must remove your revenue roadblocks to accelerate growth and marketing shouldn't be difficult. Thank you so much for taking the time to tune in. I am really excited to have with me Amir Sachs from Blue Light IT. Amir, welcome and thanks for being here today.

Amir Sachs
Of course, Tim. Thank you very much for having me on your show. I really appreciate it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, absolutely. I'm excited to dig into this. Before we jump into the meat of the interview, I want to ask you a few rapid fire questions to help us get going. Are you ready to jump in with both feet?

Amir Sachs
Let's.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Do it. Okay. So very quickly, what do you do? How long have you been doing it?

Amir Sachs
I help small and medium sized companies to use technology and streamline operations, increase bottom line profit. I've been running my own business for 34 years now.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Crazy. And if I remember correctly, Blue Light just celebrated 20 years. Is that right?

Amir Sachs
Blue Light celebrated 20 years. That's correct. Before that, I ran other businesses. I had a whole slew of businesses. When I was 21, I decided I wanted to do a business. I wanted to be a businessman. And I opened up a factory making Teddy Bears, soft toys for kids. And from there, we did hospitality and retail, wholesale, import, distribution, until I decided that IT is my passion and I should listen to my own advice and what I love to do.

Tim Fitzpatrick
But awesome. Well, congratulations. 20 years is a long time. What's the most important lesson you've learned in running your businesses?

Amir Sachs
So many things to say here. I think the most important things are time is money, work on your business not in it, and strive to deliver value and not product.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I love it. You may not ask for one. You gave me three. You just knocked it out of the park.

Amir Sachs
Over deliver.

Tim Fitzpatrick
That's right. Well, 20 years running Blue Light, 34 running your businesses. There's been ups and downs during those times. Is there any mantra or something motivational that you say to yourself, share with your team to push through those challenging times?

Amir Sachs
This is an excellent question, Tim. The only secret is four words. Do what you love. If you're passionate about what you do, it won't seem like work. You'll be happy. Your employees will see it, and so will your customers.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. It makes it so much easier when we're doing things that we enjoy. The other thing that comes to mind here, too, Amir, is it's not just doing what we love because a lot of us, I think, start businesses because we enjoy that, but we don't necessarily enjoy every aspect of running the business. And so it's important for us to keep in mind as we run our businesses, if we're doing stuff within the business that is not making us happy, we need to make sure we're focused on the things within the business that we're great at that give us energy and delegate, outsource, automate the rest, right?

Amir Sachs
Absolutely correct, Tim. The problem is, I guess that when people start their own business, usually they start their business as a janitor, meaning they do everything. They build the product or the service, they put the marketing plan together, they do everything because it's bootstrapped, they don't have money. Maybe they're working for a company and they're doing it part time and they start accumulating customers and they're very revenue driven as opposed to product delivery driven. I think it's a catch 22 because you need to work to make money, but you need money to be able to grow the business. It's not easy. Not easy.

Word Of Mouth As a Driver of Growth

Tim Fitzpatrick
What's been the biggest driver of growth for Blue Light in the 20 years you've been running it?

Amir Sachs
Biggest driver of growth. I would say word of mouth is by far the biggest. We have to make some definitions. Getting others to share your posts on social media is word of mouth. If I were to be a little bit more philosophical, I would say that surrounding yourself with successful people or people with different skills to yours could be invaluable. I've personally learned a lot from watching other people negotiate or talk themselves out of an unpleasant situation. So definitely the people around you, the surround you are a great asset.

Tim Fitzpatrick
With word of mouth, I mean, word of mouth is a pretty common driver, especially early on. Have you reached a point with word of mouth where you need to focus on other marketing tactics channels to start to accelerate growth? Or is word of mouth still driving things where you want to go?

Amir Sachs
Personally, for me, word of mouth is nothing that can touch word of mouth. We are a service based business. We deal with other companies. We're not going to have 10 million customers. We don't have an online platform where we need millions and millions of people. We're looking for a specific number of companies to work with, and then we will be at capacity. And the next phase of growth for us will be franchising or to start acquiring other companies. So at this stage, it's not a hard and fast rule, but you need to be able to look at your business, understand what it is that you're doing, defining your target market and all these things. Yes, marketing plays an important role, but marketing is a long game.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, I'll second that. I appreciate you sharing that because what I find with a lot of the business owners I talk to is if they are thinking about marketing as a short term thing, they're never happy with the results. I don't care who they work with, they're never going to be happy because marketing is not a short term game. It's a marathon, not a sprint, and we've got to think about it from a long term perspective. I appreciate you sharing that.

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Targeting Too Broadly is a Problem

Tim Fitzpatrick

And one of the other things you just touched on, too, Amir, was your target market, really getting in front of who those ideal clients are. I know when we initially spoke, one of the things you touched on that was a challenge or a roadblock was just reaching more targeted prospects. What are you guys doing to try and push through that? Because this is a common problem.

Amir Sachs
Tim, it is a common problem, and I've gone through several strategies. I think what cracked it for us was to better understand our buyer's personas. In my industry, it is something that is constant work in progress. We deal with technology, it changes all the time. We deal with business to business and business conditions change constantly, so we have to change. I find that in life, not the strongest survive, but those who are willing to change change are the ones who are able to evolve and prosper. So it's a constant work in progress. Today, my buyer's persona is X, and tomorrow that persona is hit by market conditions. Rate of exchange goes through the roof and all of a sudden their business model falls down on its face and I'm out of customers. So it's a constant tweak. I don't believe that you can sit today and say, This is my ideal client, and in two years' time, this is still your ideal client. You have to change with the time.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I want to add to some of this and break it down a little bit because you're sharing something that I think is so fundamental here. You realized that one of the issues of getting in front of the right people was that you didn't have a clear understanding of who those ideal buyer personas or ideal clients actually were. And this is so fundamental because so many people are targeting broadly. As a small business, we can't target broadly. It's just it costs way too much money. We have to hone our marketing efforts in on those ideal people. And it sounds like you've taken the time to do it. You also mentioned, hey, this is not set in stone either, which is another really important thing people need to keep in mind. Strategy is so important. When I think of strategy, I think of understanding your ideal clients in your target market, your messaging, and then your offers to those people. That's like the fuel for the tactics that you're using. But it's not set in stone. You mentioned this, your business is evolving, the market is evolving. We have to come back and reevaluate our strategy at specific points in time. Certainly when there are changes in the market, right? The pandemic is a great example, Amir. If I was focused on hospitality at the beginning of the pandemic, dang, I need to shift because if I don't, I'm going to be in serious trouble.

Amir Sachs
Either you close shop or you change. And if you don't change and you say, I have enough money to weather the storm, then that's great. But what if the storm continues for two years like it did with the pandemic? You're in big trouble. And that's why being agile and being able to adapt quickly to changing situations is critical.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I want to connect the dots here for people because I'm so glad you shared this. To get in front of more targeted prospects, you have to understand who you intend to work with. Once you've understood that, then you can start to identify where they are. When we work with clients, we call it an ideal client, GPS. It's a list of where that particular ideal client is online, offline, and then you can start to pick areas that you want to market and specific tactics, specific channels. But you know that when you go there, you're going to be fishing where those particular fish are. That's how you've gotten over that hump of getting in front of more targeted prospects. You identified who they were and then you identified where they are and then you go there. It seems so simple, but so many people just miss this because they're targeting too broadly.

Amir Sachs
Right. So targeting too broadly is a problem. But I would also add that once you have your target market, if you're going to go fishing where everyone else is fishing, then you're competing with everyone else. I think that adopting an out of the box thinking attitude where you go in and you say, I'm going to target my keywords on Google pay per click. It's great. You have a fixed cost per ad, whatever that is, $5 a click, $10 a click, $20 a click, you're going to get one in 10 is going to become a customer. So your cost of acquisition is $100, whatever the case is. But you're competing with everyone else. And your target market is only the people who are searching for your product. What about the 95 % of the other market that don't know they need your product? How are you reaching them? Because that pool is full of much bigger fish. And I would go and spend my time figuring out where these people are and where these prospects are, and what they are and try and educate them, become a figure of authority in my field and educate people about my product and my service.

Tim Fitzpatrick
it goes back to what you touched on before, Amir. It's a long game. Depending on the stat, I've seen this, it's less than 10 % of your audience is ready to buy at any given point in time. So knowing that's the case, we need to identify ways that we are going to stay in front of our audience on a consistent, regular basis so that when they do reach that point where the need is great enough, the problem is great enough where they're ready to make a choice that they're thinking of us. That's why it's so important from a long term perspective to have those channels, those tactics that you're going to use to stay in front of people and nurture the relationship over a longer period of time.

Marketing is Effective If Done Correctly

Tim Fitzpatrick

One of the things you mentioned in the pre interview, and I had to laugh because you are not alone, is that, man, gosh, you just don't care for marketing. And I talk to so many people that say that, Gosh, I just can't stand marketing. I don't like it. For you, what is it about marketing that you don't like?

Amir Sachs
So, Tim, let me correct you there. It's not that I don't care or I don't like marketing. I understand the value and the potential impact on a business if marketing is done correctly. However, what concerns me is the tendency for marketing to sometimes feel impersonal and difficult to convey my message and my culture. I personally believe that building genuine relationship with customers and understanding their needs is key to success in keeping clients for a long time. If you had to push me for an answer, I think that I personally have a problem seeing far down the line. Marketing, as we've mentioned, is a long term game, not a short one. And most entrepreneurs are looking for immediate results, and they develop a culture of immediate results. And I think that is the problem with marketing.

Tim Fitzpatrick
One of the things that I have found helpful because of that long term view is still identifying shorter term levels that you're going to levels that you're going to hit, interim metrics that are going to help determine whether you're making progress or not, because sometimes it can take a while to start to feel like you're starting to see results. But there are things that you can identify, metrics and just certain waypoints that you're going to hit along the way to make sure that you're still on the right path. But I also think it's just important to know that just like your business, your marketing is constantly going to be evolving and you're constantly optimizing, making shifts, making tweaks to make it continually better. But that doesn't mean that we should be investing in it for a year and not tracking anything for the first year.

Amir Sachs
Yeah, absolutely.

Do What You Love

Tim Fitzpatrick
There are certainly things we can do to help with that. So 20 years with Blue Light, looking back at your experience, what are the top 2-3 things that instantly stand out for you, Amir?

Amir Sachs
Wow. Blue light and blue light IT was the first time I really loved what I was doing. Don't get me wrong, my other businesses were great and fun, too. Well, some of them at least. But they were all money motivated. The game was make money. I didn't really care for the service or the products. It was all about how much money I can make. Suffice to say there were not businesses delivering technology solutions because that is my passion. At Blue Light IT, I finally listened to myself and did something I love. That's the first thing that stands out for me. When you do something you love, waking up in the morning, it doesn't seem like a chore. You're happy to get up and get going. And it shows your employees, it shows to your employees and it shows to your customers. I would say that the second is delivering exceptional service that goes beyond what industry standards are. By delivering exceptional service, you're telling your customers you love them without saying, I love you. We all know how difficult it is to say, I love you. We tell them you value their business and that their success is important to you as much as it's important to them. You get the idea, right?

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah.

Amir Sachs
I think the third one, because you asked for three, so I'm going to give you three, that the third one has to be pricing your product or service correctly. If you're looking to say, I have a 1 million dollar business, but at the end of the year, all that's left is your monthly salary, then what have you really achieved? You have to price it so that you have cash flow. Positive cash flow is key to success. It's key to growing your business and having a great life.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I want to add to a couple of these because these are great things and so I appreciate you sharing them, Amir. The second time you've mentioned just doing what you love. I want to second that because I was very fortunate. My first foray in my professional career. I got involved in wholesale distribution. I worked with my dad for over 10 years. I loved what I was doing. It's like you said, man, I never felt like I was going to work. It was just work was fun, and it was something that I enjoyed doing. And so I never really thought about personal and work. It was just I was loving what I was doing. And it shows when you're in an environment like that. And I think it's contagious when you're in an environment like that. The last thing you shared was pricing, which is one of the revenue roadblocks we help folks remove within strategy. Pricing is so difficult for a lot of people. I think a lot of us tend to underprice, thinking that, Oh, well, for a lower price, it's going to be better for us. And it's not. If we're competing on price, there's always somebody that's going to beat our price. And we need to charge enough to be profitable. Otherwise, we're not going to stay in business. We're not going to have the ability to serve our clients at the highest level. And the other thing, too, I think is pricing is something that we need to constantly be monitoring. And with what we're seeing in the economy right now with dealing with inflation for what, the last 12 to 18 months ish, we got to reevaluate our pricing at certain points in time. Do you have a regular cadence that you look at to reevaluate pricing, or how do you handle that, Amir?

Amir Sachs
We don't sell based on price. We sell based on value. In fact, we sell based on risk. When we sell a product or when we sell a service, rather, which is cybersecurity to companies, we have to price based on risk, the risk that the company presents because we end up managing the risk. And so because in my industry, there's always unexpected things happen. And I'm sure in your industry and any other industry, there are always things that happen that you were not prepared for and you didn't plan for in advance. You need to have that stash that allows you the ability to overcome problems that pop up for no reason. If you are selling and covering your costs, rather go and be an employee and work for a salary, it's better. You don't have to work weekends. You'd only work 40 hours a week. When you are your own business, when you are your own boss... Even today, I stay at the office nine to 10 hours a day. That's 60 hours a week. You work 50, 60 hours a week, I'm at the office. I tell the staff that comes here and the new employees, I tell them, Listen, we are a family. Because you spend more time with me than you spend with your family. If you sleep for eight hours a week, if you sleep for eight hours a day, and it takes you an hour to drive to work and back, half an hour each side, that's nine hours. Eight hours at the office is more than the time you spend at home. So you're spending more time with me and with the employees of the company than you are with your family. So if you're going to be your own boss, you need to understand there's going to be sacrifices. And if you're not making the money, then what are you actually doing?

Conclusion

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. So what's next for you? Where's the focus this year?

Amir Sachs
I am not at liberty to disclose that.

Tim Fitzpatrick
It's top secret.

Amir Sachs
We are putting together a group of businesses, and we hope to make a much bigger company than then what I can do by myself. So we're looking to put together a group of technology consultants and make a bigger company.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Cool. I love it.

Amir Sachs
It's a very big deal.

Tim Fitzpatrick
That's a huge way to accelerate growth, isn't it?

Amir Sachs
Oh, absolutely.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, I love it. So, Amir, knowing what you know now, anything you do differently?

Amir Sachs
Yes. And I think we've touched about this before. I wasted 15 years. My first 15 years in business were wasted. I can't say that they were wasted, really, because it was a learning curve for me. I think I would listen more. I would definitely get clever people around me at a much younger age and listen to what people say. You have to understand that you don't know what you don't know. And I can clearly recall having conversations with people 25 years ago, 30 years ago, when I started working and they're telling me, You have to do this. And I go, What do they know? But they're right.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Sometimes we're just not ready to hear those things.

Amir Sachs
Yeah. Learning from other people's mistakes is definitely something I would have done differently.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Well, thank you for mentioning that because that's one of the reasons why I do these types of interviews. If we can help people avoid some of the mistakes that we've made, it's going to help them get where they want to go much, much faster with less pain and heartache. This has been a great interview, Amir. I really appreciate you taking the time. If people want to connect with you, where can they learn more about you?

Amir Sachs
My website, bluelightit.com. Linkedin is probably the best place. Just search for my name, Amir Sachs. I post regularly about cybersecurity and how companies can stay protected from hackers, what steps people can take to recover from hacks, and how to use technology to increase your bottom line. And if you do follow me on LinkedIn, I have to tell you this, it's very frustrating. You post on LinkedIn and you see the engagement and nobody clicks like and nobody shares the posts. And for a period of time, I stopped posting for about 10 days, I stopped posting. And I get a call from somebody I haven't spoken to in over a year. And he says, Hey, is everything all right? Just wanted to check that everything is cool. You stopped posting. I thought something happened to you. And I go, Well, you've never liked any of my posts. You've never shared any of my posts. Now you're telling me that you read them? Then press the like. So if you do read content that you enjoy, press the like. It gives the other side a lot of willingness to continue and sharing the knowledge.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Amir, that's also a classic example of just because we're not seeing things or hearing things from people doesn't mean that they're not seeing it and that we're not staying in front of them effectively. So that's fascinating. I will make sure that all those links are in the show notes. I don't think there's too many of Amir Sachs on LinkedIn. A M I R S A CHS.

Amir Sachs
It's me.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Go search out Amir on LinkedIn. I have enjoyed chatting with you now a couple of times, Amir, so thank you for doing that. Those of you that are watching, listening, I appreciate you as well. We touched on a number of different things today. I love the side of getting in front of more targeted prospects by identifying who your ideal clients are. Target market, messaging, your offers are three of the revenue roadblocks we help clients remove so they can accelerate growth. If you want to find out which of the nine revenue roadblocks are slowing down your growth, you can do that over revenueroadblockscorecard.com, or you can connect with us over at rialtomarketing.com. We'd be happy to chat with you. You can book a free discovery call there as well. Thank you, Amir. Thank you. Till next time, take care.

Amir Sachs
Thanks, Tim. And always a pleasure speaking with you. See you soon.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Bye.


Connect With Amir Sachs


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About the author, Tim Fitzpatrick

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