You’re A Marketing Company First And A Service Business Second

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 Jason Fisch for this week’s episode of The Rialto Marketing Podcast!

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You’re A Marketing Company First And A Service Business Second

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 that 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, Jason Fisch from Fisch Solutions. Jason, welcome and thanks for taking the time to be here.

Jason Fisch
Great. Thank you for having me on.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I'm looking forward to digging into this, man. You've been doing this for a long time. You started when you were 15?

Jason Fisch
I did, yes.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I love it. Man, some of us get started early, but not quite that early. I know we're going to have a great conversation, man. Before we do that, I want to ask you a few rapid fire questions to help us get to know you a little bit. Sure. You ready to jump in with both feet here?

Jason Fisch
Let's do it.

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

Jason Fisch
I do IT solutions and cybersecurity with my 20 person firm out here in New York. I've been doing it since I was 15, so just going over 20 years now at this point.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Congratulations. That is a 20 years, a long time, man. In those 20 years, what's the most important lesson you've learned?

Jason Fisch
Definitely the most important lesson I learned is your team. In the beginning, we've had issues with the team that was a detriment to our company. But then now we're in a position where our team is everything. If I lost the core players in my team today, then I'd be in a situation where my business wouldn't function. So team is what it's all about for sure. Yeah.

Tim Fitzpatrick
All it takes is one bad team member to get you to realize, oh, my God, this one person is messing up the whole bunch, right? Yeah. We've all been there. So, look, Jason, we all know growing a business is hard too. And in 20 years, you've seen ups, you've seen downs. Any mantra or motivational saying that you say to yourself or share with your team to push through those times?

Jason Fisch
Yeah. No, I mean, we're always about being on task and always keeping task and repeating that process. So the importance is to make sure that there's a process in the company, the process is filed, and that you're doing it on a repeating basis. And that's, I think the best way to grow and the best way for your team to work together to get to that point.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Are you ever done refining a process?

Jason Fisch
No, we're changed every day since I was 15 and learning what process was and being very fortunate to be involved in a lot of programs and learn processes. Then to the point now where we really have an understanding of process and just refining it to really grow our company.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I think no matter how good you are at process, as things evolve, as things shift, you got to make slight tweaks. Frankly, no process is perfect. What we're always identifying, at least I know on my side of things, we're always identifying, oh, hey, we need to make a slight shift here. But once you have the base process down, it becomes so much easier to continually iterate.

Jason Fisch
Absolutely.

We Don't Need to Reinvent the Wheel When it Comes to Niching

Tim Fitzpatrick
I want to start back from the beginning. In the beginning, you niched in IT with public safety organizations. How did you settle on this niche? I always like to ask people who have really niched how this happens, can you bring us back to that time?

Jason Fisch
Yeah, absolutely. Our start when I was 15, I was a high schooler, and websites were just coming out and I was on AOL. So websites just coming out. I wanted to learn how to build it. So I built my town's first website. I built Beacon New York's first website. My family history, as you can see in the back there, always interesting on camera, is firefighting. I'm also a firefighter as well. I took from building that first website to getting into IT and doing IT support for fire service when in the 90s, fire service was transitioning from paper to digitization. I want to say our company was very involved in the process in the 90s and early 2000s of bringing IT to the fire service, where now recognizes one of the leaders in the fire service and bringing IT and and IT technology to the fire service. We started originally building a SaaS application that linked 911 centers with first responders. We developed that and invented that process. Then we went into various other processes SaaS platforms, technology tools for the fire service when drones started coming out, bringing drones into the fire service. That's been our niche just because it's my family background, what I do, and then into technology. Just got lucky being in the fire service at the time when there was no technology and being in technology and bringing it to the fire service.

Tim Fitzpatrick
At the time, had you had much experience in fire other than your family history of being involved in it?

Jason Fisch
Yeah. I started when I was 16 as a volunteer firefighter in my community. I grew up in the firehouse with my family, fourth generation. Then I was lucky enough at 19 to get hired as a queer firefighter. I virtually worked two full-time jobs, so running a multimillion 20 person company and being a full-time firefighter. Now coming into retirement, you could retire at 20 years. When I'm 39, just over a year, I'll be retired for the fire service and just doing the IT thing. But it's been an interesting run trying to do two full-time jobs effectively for the past 20 years.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I can only imagine. But I think it's so fascinating that a lot of us try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to specializing, niching. And for many of us, we don't need to. We just need to think back on where our experience is. And you took an industry that you had exposure to, your family certainly was well entrenched in it, and leveraged that to your advantage. And a lot of us can do the exact same thing. We have some prior experience. And is there some way that we can serve an industry or fill a niche that we already have prior experience, and it's far easier to do that than it is to start from ground zero.

Jason Fisch
Right. And it does a couple of things for you, right. Since you're in that niche, you're known in that community and trusted in that community. So it's rapid growth. We were fortunate enough to make the Inc 5000 list twice as the fastest growing company in America. And the reason we were able to do that is that we had this specialized niche that caused us to have explosive growth nationwide, serving a client base. And it was because of that niche that I was able to bootstrap. I never took funding to get to where we were in this company. I was able to start from literally zero dollars and just my relationships in the fire service and started with one, two, three, that exponential growth. And And every time I rolled money into our company from getting those agencies on and then other business clients and other verticals, I was able to fund the company, get it where it is now. But I wouldn't be able to do that without that niche. If I was just, quote unquote, another IT guy, it would been a lot harder to get into the market, get funding and all that but I definitely attribute to our niche to be able to get our funding and get to where we are at today.

Tim Fitzpatrick
It's a common roadblock for people when we talk about niching or specializing, they're like, Gosh, but I'm going to close off all this huge segment of the market. I love the fact that you shared that, Jason, because the reality is it is so much easier to grow. And you've experienced that. Because you focus, it makes it much easier from a marketing standpoint to identify where you need to be to get in front of those people. Because when you're like, Oh, yeah, I work with small business owners. Well, it's like, Jesus, what? I mean, they're freaking everywhere, like throw a rock. It's too broad. When we narrow it down, it becomes much, much easier to go, Where are the places I need to be to get in front of these exact people? For you, when you're and public safety, all of a sudden it's like, Okay, well, where are these people congregating? What websites do they follow? What social media groups are they a part of? So much easier to start to identify that and then get your marketing in front of where the fish are. You're fishing where the fish are.

Jason Fisch
Literally.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, exactly. No pun intended on that. That's great. I love it.

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You're A Marketing Company First And A Service Business Second

Tim Fitzpatrick

Because we're starting to talk about marketing here a little bit, I want to go down that path because in the pre interview, we talked a little bit about this. You are investing heavily in marketing right now. Tell me first, why are you doing this now? And then can you break down a little bit of what your marketing team looks like right now and what you're doing?

Jason Fisch
Sure. Yeah. So two things. I started at high school, so I didn't go to College, get my fourth, sixth, eighth year degree. I bootstrapped, learned originally from just peers, and then I was very fortunate enough to get accepted into the Goldman Sachs, 10,000 small business program, Walton School, a lot of these other, because of our notority, a lot of these big programs, national programs that really bring you into entrepreneurship and teach you how to run a business. From that, that advisement, the peer groups that we're in. I really learned what it takes to run a business. I guess the key points are you got to be a marketing company first, then service company second. The other thing is cash is everything. Those two principles are the most critical in a business, pretty much putting together all the peer groups that I've been in. That's what their feelings are. Some of these are very large and have very good backings, like the shark tank. All four of the members of the shark tank, Mr. One of and everything like that were at our last peer group and speaking. Even they niche into these points that cash is everything and marketing is where you got to be first in the company. If nobody knows you, you could be the greatest company in the world. Nobody knows you. They're not going to find you. These are all real key points. But with that said, we came into understanding that my focus in the company is going to be business development and marketing. I was able to build a team under me. I got an awesome chief of staff. She started as my assistant. I was able to move her into my chief of staff, understands our company is absolutely awesome in running our company. They have the company running. They have a process, they get through all the jobs, they take care of the customers. Things are going real well. Now that's down path. My complete focus is obviously any major issues that pop up, but mainly marketing and sales. Because of that, I built out a team that pretty much looks like two companies that we hired, one inbound, one outbound marketing company, as well as having three people in the house that do marketing. We have a developer, we have a graphics designer, then we have some of the managers, all that. From this infrastructure, which, as you said, it's definitely a lot of money, we really want to grow to be a national company. So we've built the process to be able to do that. We have the ability to do it. Now we got to make sure everybody in the country knows who we are. We're starting to make inroads to various areas, Florida, Alabama, all around the country. We're doing work anywhere from California to New York now. And that comes down to our marketing, our team, and then as we continue to build out our process. So that's the reason why we really started investing in marketing where we're going right now as a company.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Got it. So what I'm hearing you say is you want to grow nationally, you know that marketing is going to be a large driver in your ability to make that happen.

Jason Fisch
Absolutely.

Tim Fitzpatrick
You're working with two different marketing companies, one that's doing inbound, one that's doing outbound. Can you tell me a little bit more about what they're doing on the inbound side? I'm assuming you're starting to create a lot of content?

Jason Fisch
Yes. Inbound company, they're creating content. They're doing blog posts every day. We're putting a blog post out. They're doing the link building. They're building links in from directories, building links from websites, working on our keywords, modifying our website. We have a meeting once a week. Developer and graphic designer working full-time, eight hours a day, developing the content, developing our website. We just changed the homepage based off of that. So they're working full steam ahead on that. Outbound, we have two callers dialing 500 dials a month, hitting up any possible person that they get in their list. So we're constantly reaching out to businesses. And then we're also building our inbound marketing so people can find us as well.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, got it. How long have you been on this train investing in marketing so far?

Jason Fisch
Yeah, beginning of the year. So we're just coming to three quarters of doing this.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Got it. And what are you seeing so far? Are you starting to see some traction? Are certain things working really well yet already? Or what does that look like?

Jason Fisch
Yeah. I mean, all the... So we did nothing. We didn't do anything before, but we dabbled in it a little bit and it was slow growth. But now, since we invested in this, growth is probably, I had mentioned this, say, tenfold. It is an enormous difference from even just the leads we're getting and reaching out to clients and getting new clients. It's very expensive, but it's definitely been an ROI on it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Are you seeing more consistent results than you were before?

Jason Fisch
Oh, yeah, absolutely. Definitely more consistent.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Because one of the things that comes up, and this comes up with a lot of people then, a lot of business owners that I interview who have been successful investing in marketing, one of the things that almost every single one of them have said is just you got to think about it from a long term perspective. The fact that you're just over six plus months in and getting some of the strong results you are is great. Some people don't have that experience, right? But some people give up at that point, and they're giving up just before things start to really take off. That's why I always talk about, look, it's so important to think long term with marketing and at a minimum, 9 to 12 month plus horizon. It doesn't mean that you're not going to start seeing results. It doesn't mean that there's not low hanging fruit. There absolutely is. And we've got to outline the benchmarks and the thresholds that we want to pass and cross as we invest. But there's plenty of people that have invested for 6 to 12 months that aren't seeing a lot of return yet. But they reached a point where, bam, things shifted. And it's just all about that consistency.

Jason Fisch
I think it's really important to keep moving forward on it. We're seeing results and much better because we weren't doing anything before. Now we're really going at it. So we're starting to see results. But I think we're in one of the most difficult industries to bring people on board. And we're not going after typically one, two, three person CPA firm. We're going after midmarket, which for us is like 50 to 500 seats. So we're going after pretty big businesses and organizations. So they are significantly harder to get. To think of an organization of 500 people are going to switch their IT provider is a huge lift. It could be as much as a two or three year sales process so that you gain trust with them and you build a relationship and you start maybe doing small projects and then eventually get into being their full managed service provider. But it is very difficult. And I'm not saying either that we're closing a ton of business. What I'm saying is that we're getting a ton of leads and we're starting to build these relationships. So I'm saying successful as far as that. We have closed deals. We've definitely closed deals pretty quickly for people that were just they were out there looking. But the good thing is now we have 10 to 20 people that are big companies that are really solidly in our pipeline and we wouldn't have that battle.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. So you're getting that traction. You're starting to see the signs that it's working. Like you said, it doesn't assume then you've closed a ton of new business, but your pipeline is starting to fill. That's one of those signs that you can identify as, Hey, this stuff that we're doing is working. We're filling the pipeline. Now, we just need to keep doing what we're doing and keep tracking it. But like you said, a 500 person firm, longer sales cycle, six plus months of marketing so far, you can't necessarily expect to hit. You may hit some people that are at the right place at the right time, but it's less than 10 % of your audience is ready to buy at any given point in time. So you may get lucky, but you're putting people in the pipeline, which is fantastic. 

How to Get Featured on The Inc 5000

Tim Fitzpatrick
But one of the things that you mentioned, Jason, was the Inc 5000 list. You've been on it twice. Congratulations for that.

Jason Fisch
Thank you.


Tim Fitzpatrick

I want to ask a question that I think a lot of people have probably thought, but they've never actually asked, which is how do you actually get featured on the Inc 5000?

Jason Fisch
When I started my business, I was like, what is the biggest award a small business could get? There's the Forbes list, there's other lists, but Inc 5000 is like the standard that a company has really made it that the founder has really made it. It's quite a difficult award to get because it is fact check. It's not like you just say, I'm a great company and they'll put you on this list, which is one of the most notable list in business. But they fact check everything. They go through the list, which is a lot on their end. But basically it's very financial. What they're looking for is a company that's revenueing at least two million a year. And on that basis, based two million a year, they're the fastest percentage growing off that two million base. So you got to think that a company got itself the two million dollars and then on top of that, off of that two million dollar base, that they had the biggest percentage growth off of that two million dollar base. And as you know, it takes a lot for a company to get to that million revenue per year. But then for a company to get to that two million mark and then have a high percentage of growth off of that two million, it's easy to go from zero to a million. Those percentages, but to go from two million up, very difficult. That's what the Inc 5000 list is focusing on.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Got it. It is. But if you are there, it's really a matter of reaching out to them, submitting the information, and then just seeing if you actually qualify. So it's hard to do, but the actual process of submitting is not necessarily that difficult, but you just got to be growing fast.

Jason Fisch
If you're a $2 million company and you're growing fast, I highly recommend just submitting to $5,000. They'll look at you. They usually get anywhere from 15,000 to 25,000 submissions a year, and 5,000 get on the list. And it's purely revenue based. They're really looking at high revenue growth.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, that's awesome. Well, congratulations on that.

Jason Fisch
Thank you.

Funding for Marketing as a Roadblock

Tim Fitzpatrick
One of the challenges that you face right now is funding for all of your marketing campaigns. You're investing heavily in it, you're starting to see traction. This is a super common roadblock for people. Because look, the reality is you can spend as much as you got with marketing if you want to. What types of things are you doing to push through that?

Jason Fisch
Once you start getting to this level and you really need to start investing very large budgets, we're having personnel outsourcing companies that are obviously thousands and thousands of dollars a month, you really got to get in a position to get funding. Working with the Goldman Sachs, obviously them being investment bank, a lot of it was focused on getting investment, working through the war program. A lot of it was investment based. Getting investors, then looking at the company to see if it's going to stay private or if it's going to go public, how you're going to get seed investors, that whole process. It comes into mind our interest is to stay private as long as possible. But with that said, a lot of it comes down to either SBA, working through the SBA process of getting funding or getting people to invest in your company, or it comes down to your revenue. If you're revenuing enough to cover your debts, it's financing at that point. Those are, I think the three points of financing is what it comes down to. We are looking at some of those. We are using some of those, but I think those are your three best avenues for getting funding. You're looking for significant funding to really try to grow your company.

Tim Fitzpatrick
You may not always be able to do it by funding from operations, depending on how quickly you want to grow.

Jason Fisch
Unless you can get a good bank banking relationship, you might be able to get a loan against your assets or your receivables, something along those lines. As you know, there's lots and lots of different avenues. Some have benefits and trade offs, but it's very hard to just purely fund it from your income, your revenue. You're probably going to have to get funding of some sort.

Conclusion

Tim Fitzpatrick
What's next, Jason? What are your aspirations? I know you had touched on, hey, we want to go national. Anything in the shorter term this year that you guys are working towards is a benchmark.

Jason Fisch
Yeah. So things that we're working towards is the cloud. Getting all our clients 100 % on the cloud is a big push. Cybersecurity compliance is obviously huge. We've gone very large into that practice from partnering with major cyber security partners and then also bringing on cyber security services, cyber security personnel is a big focus. And then me, myself looking at building out the JasonFisch.biz brand, which is going to be more personal consulting for businesses. So that's going to be more tailor focused on businesses that are looking to maybe put RFPs or bring in IT companies that are looking for more BCIO direct consulting. So that's all the three avenues of business that I'm working on currently for our company.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So you got nothing going on?

Jason Fisch
Yeah. Going 100 miles an hour. Getting ready to retire from the firehouse a year and a half out from that. So that's exciting. Fortunately, it's a 24 hours on shift and three days off. So effectively, I'm able to work the business four days a week. I have to work the firehouse one day a week. And that's once, like I said before, it comes down to your team. My team is able that one day I'm not even in touch. I could go a week. One good point to put out there note, you really made it your business. I could go a week on vacation, finally and not get a phone call. My team is that good that they will handle the fires that come in. They know what's going on. There's process. I'm able to now get into ventures like the jasonfisch.biz or expand the company or build these sales relationships, bring in vendors. It's all business building at this point. And it's that whole principle where I don't work in your business, work on your business. I'm in that mode of working on my business and not being in the business anymore.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I love it, man. Congratulations for getting off the treadmill.

Jason Fisch
Yes, absolutely. It was rough.

Tim Fitzpatrick
It's rough for a lot of us. It's not the easiest thing to get off the treadmill. It takes a concerted effort to do it. But you touched on it earlier. To make it happen, you got to have process and you got to have the right people. You're never going to get there without those two things. So you got those two things in place. I want to ask you one last question, Jason, before we wrap things up. Knowing what you know now, anything you would do differently?

Jason Fisch
Probably select my team more better. I was hiring in the beginning based on friends or based on who sounded good. I had no formal education. I really learned a lot along the way. My first 10 years was basically my college education, on the job training. I know so much more now from experience of doing it for 20 years. And then the programs that I've gone through, I wish I knew I knew now, I'm sure everybody says that, to really understand how to hire and build a true, really good team. But I learned a lot. We're still moving. We're still going forward. We had a lot of bad times learning, and everybody just goes through it. Nobody's going to be 100 % going through it the whole time with no problems. But we work through all those problems. That's what's important. We're still alive and still doing well, growing faster than ever, doing better than ever. So very excited to see what the next five years brings.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Man, I worked with one of my best friends for over 10 years. I mean, this is a guy I've known since I was four. So it takes a special relationship to be able to make that work. And I will say, on my side, it was more him that made it work than I did. He was better than me. But we learned by experience, right? I did not start when I was 15, but I got involved. I worked with my dad for 10 years. Man, I right out of college, I started running a distribution company. I was the first full-time employee. But then as we grew, I started to have to hire people. Man, I had never hired anybody before. I was learning as I went. So I made plenty of mistakes, but I learned from every single one of those and just continued to iterate. And it sounds like your path has been very much the same.

Jason Fisch
Absolutely.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I appreciate you taking the time and sharing it. Tons of good takeaways from this conversation. So, Jason, where can people learn more about you?

Jason Fisch
Yeah, definitely go to our website, fischsolutions.com. That's fish with a C, FISCHSolutions.com. You definitely jump on my LinkedIn. It's Jason Fisch is my tag on LinkedIn. It's the best places in soon jasonfisch.biz for that new venture that we're looking towards. So hope you guys reach out to us. We'd be more than happy to help you out with any of your IT or cybersecurity needs.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I love it. Reach out to Jason. We will make sure both of those links are in the show notes. Jason, thank you for taking the time, man. I really appreciate it. It's been great chatting with you. Those of you that are watching, listening, I appreciate you as well. We've been talking a lot about what Jason has done to grow. If you want to identify which of the nine revenue roadblocks are slowing down your growth, you can do that over revenueroadblockscorecard.com. It takes less than five minutes. You can also always connect with us over at RialtoMarketing.com, which is RialtoM arketing.com. Thank you again. Until next time, take care.


Connect With Jason Fisch


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About the author, Tim Fitzpatrick

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