Ep. 173 – Jason Keath Key success factor “Having a network even before we needed it has been a huge driver of our success.”
Jason Keath is Founder and CEO of Social Fresh, a social media education company. He is a social media analyst and speaker.
He graduated from the UNC Charlotte in 2004 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design and Photography. He has worked in leadership consulting and as a creative lead for various advertising and digital agencies before becoming an independent consultant in 2008.
Since then Jason has worked full time on building Social Fresh, a company that offers insights, training, and education resources to companies that range from the Fortune 50 to small businesses.
Most passionate about
Obviously, there have been changes in the world today, but at the root of our business, we are an advent company in many ways. We teach people social media marketing, we teach them how to improve their businesses using social media, we produce in-person conferences, we train some of the big companies, and we do consulting.
Recently, obviously, we have been doing much more consulting with medium to large businesses because we can’t do physical events. We pivoted to helping people virtually the best we can. We’ve done virtual events and we’re having a lot of fun with our customers. We’re also doing much more virtual consulting.
We help people improve their social media at the highest level. We’ve been doing social media conferences since 2008, and we’ve done more than 25 of them in the US. We are now doing them annually, usually in Florida.
Jason’s career and story
I was working in agencies as a creative lead—I was an artist-designer and photographer. I was always writing as well; however, I’ve loved most of the creative parts of marketing. I enjoyed working with the agencies, and when social media came on board I was very interested. I experimented a lot with social media, so I started to be more of a strategist in that field.
When social media started, people had a ‘trust gap’. Many companies were really interested in social media and started to ask their agencies, “How should it work for us?”, “What should we do?”, and “Where should we be present on social media?”
Eventually, I started my own small social agency. Then I sold it and started consulting because I noticed a need for an advent that focused on results for businesses. So, I decided to do it. Originally, the events were meant to drive more business and to help me find more customers for social media consulting. However, that first event ended up more successful and more rewarding than consulting, so I ended up focusing on the events.
I’ve done events my whole life. I’ve always helped to produce events, so I felt very comfortable with the medium. I wanted to create an event that I would want to attend, something intimate and practical. I would bring the smartest people I knew from all over the social media industry to get very practical and hands-on, on one stage, one track, having community discussions.
This year, we’ve done our first virtual event - Social Fresh X. We focused on how to understand, to adopt, to pivot in response to the pandemic. We had great response there. We had four or five times the number of people who used to attend our in-person conferences, from 90 countries and states. It’s a great way for us to get to more people and we’ll be doing another one at the end of the year.
John’s best advice for entrepreneurs
Talking to your customers in many ways and getting to the root of their problem. That’s what was the ‘pre success’ of many successful entrepreneurs, and it was ‘pre successful’ for me early on. It has been the main way that we adjust and adapt our product.
You need to talk with a few potential customers. Even talking with five people will allow you to see and understand patterns.
Biggest failure with customers
I think that, in the beginning, we focused too broadly. There are many people who are interested in social media but not as many who are spending money business-wise on making sure social media is a large part of their marketing and a large part of their revenue innovation, and that it generally has an impact on their business.
During the first event that we did, we focused on studying social media and how to use it for your business. However, we didn’t target companies that spend money on social media. We didn’t target a specific type of company. That confused our feedback from the event.
Only over the years did we recognize the audience that we should focus on, which consists of mid to large companies that have decided to invest in more than one person. However, it took us time before we focused on the right audience.
Biggest success due to the right customer approach
With time, we realized that we weren’t and didn’t want to be an agency but we were very good at consulting and being the analyst of the industry. We started doing presentations as a product that analyzes the industry of social media. We are going to very specific kinds of companies that want to adjust their results and are looking to do their best. It became our high-level product.
We established this product so that our conference wasn’t our most expensive product anymore, but it became the top of our funnel. People attended our events to learn more about how they could work with us and we were able to help our customers more.
We work with many finance companies. Usually, their social media content is very technical, drier, or even boring content, so we can help them more and faster. One of our customers is a very well-known finance company in the US. We started working with them three years ago and they have seen a 300% increase in their engagement and performance metrics.
Most recommended technological tool
I have two quite new tools. One is Substack, which is a free newsletter tool that allows you to focus on your content and on building an audience, allowing commenting and shares. It’s simple and very easy to use.
The second tool is Hopin, which we used for our first virtual conference. I think any company should consider some type of virtual event to connect with their audience and find the tool that would able them to do it. We even started to guide customers in how to do virtual events.
Jason's key success factor
I think what helps us most is the network I have built since my first days in the business. That network is very valuable when we need advice on a new topic, or are looking to find an audience for a new service, or need an answer to a question from our customers.
Having a network even before we needed it has been a huge driver of our success.
Since we believe that the best way for entrepreneurs to get fast, big, and sustainable success is by leading your (new) market category, and the entire entrepreneurial journey reminds me of mountaineering, I want to ask you: Is there a mountain you dream of climbing or a mountain you have already climbed?
I visited some mountains in the past, though there isn’t necessarily a physical mountain on my goal list. However, it makes me think of the metaphor of business...
One thing I’ve always wanted to do is build some type of software business. Building a software business is really being able to make money while you’re asleep ... A tool that serves your customers without your needing to be there most of the time.
I think that is a very big challenge, which is similar to the challenge of climbing a mountain, with all the planning you need to do for a new challenge and all the help you need along the way.
Want to learn how to choose the best Name and Logo? Not sure which customers to focus on right now and where they are? Want to build your website, or trying to figure out how and what content to share on social media?