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How to Build a Solo Marketing Strategy Business Featuring Eric Elam
Episode 63811th July 2022 • Smashing the Plateau • Smashing the Plateau
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Eric Elam is the founder and president of Elam Associates, a solo marketing agency focused on delivering customized marketing solutions for small and midsized companies. In today's episode of Smashing the Plateau, you will learn how to start and build a solo business in your field of expertise. Eric and I discuss:
  • His career journey
  • How Eric went out on his own
  • How long it took Eric to land his first client
  • We’re all product of our past environments
  • Why you need to invest in marketing during economic challenges
  • How to listen for your ideal client opportunity
Eric's 3 decades plus career traversed from corporate side marketer to consultant to ad agency executive, then on to his current solopreneur role. Eric resides in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife of 41 years, Cindy. You can learn more about Eric at: www.elamassociates.com https://www.linkedin.com/in/elamassociates/ https://twitter.com/ericelam 513-703-5334

Transcripts

Eric Elam:

I always had this belief that if you do a great job with project number

Eric Elam:

one, project number two will follow.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Welcome to Smashing The Plateau.

David Shriner-Cahn:

We help consultants, coaches, entrepreneurs, and small business

David Shriner-Cahn:

owners build their business after a long career, as an employed professional.

David Shriner-Cahn:

We believe you should be able to do what you love and get paid

David Shriner-Cahn:

what you're worth, consistently.

David Shriner-Cahn:

I'm your host, David Shriner-Cahn.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Today on Smashing The Plateau, I'm speaking with marketing

David Shriner-Cahn:

strategist, Eric Elam.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Eric is the founder and president of Elam Associates, a solo marketing

David Shriner-Cahn:

agency, focused on delivering customized marketing solutions

David Shriner-Cahn:

for small and mid-sized companies.

David Shriner-Cahn:

In today's episode of Smashing The Plateau, you'll learn how to

David Shriner-Cahn:

start and build a solo business in your field of expertise.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Stay with us to hear all the details.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Do you struggle to take consistent action on building your business?

David Shriner-Cahn:

How do you feel about your business building progress?

David Shriner-Cahn:

Would you like to be part of a structured, supportive process to help you implement

David Shriner-Cahn:

ideas that you know will help you move the needle towards your goals.

David Shriner-Cahn:

As a member of the Smashing The Plateau Community, you'll have access

David Shriner-Cahn:

to a structured process for growth.

David Shriner-Cahn:

You'll also be a member of a community that is built to be a safe, caring place

David Shriner-Cahn:

where inclusive, direct, active, and empowering conversations are welcome.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Inside the Smashing The Plateau Community, you'll find a range of

David Shriner-Cahn:

tools and resources to support you as an entrepreneur, access to experts

David Shriner-Cahn:

and answers to your burning questions.

David Shriner-Cahn:

If you are committed to getting your consulting, coaching, or small business

David Shriner-Cahn:

to grow on your own terms so that you can deliver great results to your ideal

David Shriner-Cahn:

clients while supporting the lifestyle you want, and you don't wanna do it

David Shriner-Cahn:

alone, apply to become a member of the Smashing The Plateau Community.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Learn more at smashingtheplateau.com.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Now let's welcome.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Eric Elam.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Eric is the founder and president of Elam Associates, a solo marketing

David Shriner-Cahn:

agency focused on delivering customized marketing solutions

David Shriner-Cahn:

for small and mid-sized companies.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Eric's three decades plus career traversed from corporate side marketer

David Shriner-Cahn:

to consultant, to ad agency executive, then onto his current solopreneur role.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Eric resides in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife of 41 years, cindy.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Eric, welcome to the show.

Eric Elam:

Thank you, David.

Eric Elam:

It's wonderful to be here.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Tell me a little bit about your career.

Eric Elam:

my journey to where I am right now may not necessarily be a traditional

Eric Elam:

one, but I'll go ahead and give it to you.

Eric Elam:

I started off on the corporate marketing side.

Eric Elam:

That was my first job at a school.

Eric Elam:

I did that for about a dozen years and then low and behold, I got laid off.

Eric Elam:

I think back then they called it right sizing because they

Eric Elam:

didn't wanna say downsizing.

Eric Elam:

I was surprised I wasn't expecting it.

Eric Elam:

I had two kids at home.

Eric Elam:

And it was like, what am I gonna do next?

Eric Elam:

So I started looking for jobs, of course.

Eric Elam:

And, wasn't really finding what I was looking for.

Eric Elam:

Colleague of mine said, why don't you consult?

Eric Elam:

Why don't you try consulting while you're looking for a job?

Eric Elam:

And I listened to her and I was able to get some consulting assignments.

Eric Elam:

That was probably my first opportunity to dip my toe in the waters of consulting.

Eric Elam:

I did that for a couple of years, and then one of the companies I was consulting

Eric Elam:

for offered me a job well, at that point in time, while I was intrigued by the

Eric Elam:

world of consulting, I wasn't ready yet.

Eric Elam:

I still had a family to support.

Eric Elam:

It just felt too risky.

Eric Elam:

So I took the job, another corporate job, about three years after that.

Eric Elam:

I moved from the corporate side to the ad agency side was

Eric Elam:

offered a job at an ad agency.

Eric Elam:

It was a much smaller firm and I felt like that was maybe getting

Eric Elam:

me closer to the consulting world.

Eric Elam:

Cause I was going from big corporate job over to an agency job.

Eric Elam:

I worked in, two different ad agencies, really smaller.

Eric Elam:

we're talking less than 50 employees.

Eric Elam:

So these were small firms for about 10 years.

Eric Elam:

So now I've taken you up to 2008, 2009.

Eric Elam:

And, I guess like a lot of individuals during the course of their career,

Eric Elam:

I was taking notes along the way.

Eric Elam:

I was taking my mental notes, my time in the, corporate setting helped me

Eric Elam:

to understand what corporate marketers are looking for from ad agencies.

Eric Elam:

My time on the ad agency side gave me a better perspective of what life was

Eric Elam:

like there and what agencies really needed to do to service their clients.

Eric Elam:

And I made this decision that I think something's broken.

Eric Elam:

Okay.

Eric Elam:

Business as usual to me, wasn't working.

Eric Elam:

And quite frankly, David, I was feeling really unfulfilled in my agency job.

Eric Elam:

And some might say why I was vice president of business development.

Eric Elam:

I had a nice six figure income.

Eric Elam:

I had a really good title.

Eric Elam:

I had all the things that were supposed to be making me happy,

Eric Elam:

but I felt really unfulfilled.

Eric Elam:

and, I mentioned to you that I'd been married to the same woman for 41 years.

Eric Elam:

And she was like, why don't you do something about it?

Eric Elam:

And to be perfectly honest with you, I was nearing a milestone birthday.

Eric Elam:

It's amazing what milestone birthdays can sometimes do to us.

Eric Elam:

And I got to the point where, what's the worst that could happen to me.

Eric Elam:

I guess I could fail.

Eric Elam:

I'd been laid off a couple of times in my career.

Eric Elam:

So what would be wrong with failing at this?

Eric Elam:

So back to my point about, business as usual, wasn't working.

Eric Elam:

I learned a lot about what, I thought the business should look like.

Eric Elam:

Here's the bottom line of what I decided to do.

Eric Elam:

I made the decision.

Eric Elam:

I was gonna go out on my.

Eric Elam:

One of the things that I learned is it doesn't matter whether you're working

Eric Elam:

in a corporate setting, whether you're working in an ed agency setting or whether

Eric Elam:

you're a consultant, there's three things that matter in the marketing business.

Eric Elam:

One relationships let's face it.

Eric Elam:

We do business with people we know and trust.

Eric Elam:

We do business with people.

Eric Elam:

We like, and I had always been really good at building relationships.

Eric Elam:

I knew I could build those relationships and leverage 'em.

Eric Elam:

Secondly, this business is about ideas.

Eric Elam:

Okay, you must generate ideas to either grow a brand, to

Eric Elam:

generate new leads, to grow sales.

Eric Elam:

You have to come up with ideas and why should ideas be the

Eric Elam:

domain of a large agency?

Eric Elam:

Why can't I generate those ideas?

Eric Elam:

And third it's about execution.

Eric Elam:

I had lived through situations where.

Eric Elam:

Great ideas would die on a vine because the company didn't

Eric Elam:

know how to execute them.

Eric Elam:

So I decided, okay, I'm gonna try this myself.

Eric Elam:

So it took me, I probably, from the time I decided I was going out on

Eric Elam:

my own, it was January of, 2009.

Eric Elam:

It wasn't the best time in the, in our country from an economic

Eric Elam:

standpoint, 2008 had just happened.

Eric Elam:

Some people, who were close to me, thought I was crazy.

Eric Elam:

What are you doing?

Eric Elam:

Leaving a secure job to go out on your own.

Eric Elam:

My gut told me I could make it work.

Eric Elam:

I just felt like I could do.

Eric Elam:

So you never forget these dates, David, June 29th, 2009.

Eric Elam:

I resigned my job and I hung up a shingle right away and I started Elam Associates.

Eric Elam:

I had no clients, I had no revenue.

Eric Elam:

I had a belief that I could make this work.

Eric Elam:

I had a couple of prospects that I thought I could approach and get some work from.

Eric Elam:

and I had a, a message from my wife that, okay, buddy, you got

Eric Elam:

six months to make this work.

Eric Elam:

You better be able to generate some revenue in six months.

Eric Elam:

And she was right.

Eric Elam:

I had to make some money.

Eric Elam:

I had to prove that I could make this work, that I could take this idea.

Eric Elam:

And my idea was, I'm gonna build an agency or a consulting business.

Eric Elam:

And really three tenants behind that.

Eric Elam:

There would be no walls.

Eric Elam:

Okay.

Eric Elam:

I'm not gonna open up an office.

Eric Elam:

Why open an office?

Eric Elam:

Why do I need an office?

Eric Elam:

That's just added expense that I don't need at this point in time.

Eric Elam:

So there would be no walls.

Eric Elam:

Secondly, there would be no barriers when I say no barriers.

Eric Elam:

What I meant by that is, I need to work with clients that will allow me

Eric Elam:

to immerse myself in their business.

Eric Elam:

If you let me in, I can help solve your marketing challenges.

Eric Elam:

No walls, no barriers and tied into that.

Eric Elam:

No overhead.

Eric Elam:

Okay.

Eric Elam:

Yes.

Eric Elam:

I understand the need for overhead in an agency world, but I'm not

Eric Elam:

gonna bring that to my clients.

Eric Elam:

I'm gonna bring you fresh ideas.

Eric Elam:

So I set out looking for a client and, I found one, I found a small client.

Eric Elam:

They were, in the business of making educational furniture.

Eric Elam:

So furniture for colleges, schools.

Eric Elam:

They didn't have a lot of money to spend, but they gave me a start.

Eric Elam:

And about a month after that, I found a second client.

Eric Elam:

All of a sudden, I've got some traction here.

Eric Elam:

I forget.

Eric Elam:

I'm energized.

David Shriner-Cahn:

And how many months in was your first client?

Eric Elam:

probably a month, probably three weeks.

David Shriner-Cahn:

That's pretty quick.

Eric Elam:

Yeah, it was pretty quick.

Eric Elam:

I'll be honest.

Eric Elam:

I was leveraging relationships.

Eric Elam:

I've talked to you about the importance of relationships.

Eric Elam:

I contacted people who I knew, who knew me and, I think oftentimes,

Eric Elam:

your former colleagues and friends want to give you a chance.

Eric Elam:

They wanna see you succeed.

Eric Elam:

And, all I was saying was give me a project, give me a project and let me see

Eric Elam:

if I can deliver against maybe what your expectations were or what you had received

Eric Elam:

from other marketing agencies before.

Eric Elam:

So the first year I really had two core clients, but I wasn't making anywhere

Eric Elam:

near the money I was making before.

Eric Elam:

David.

Eric Elam:

I was so much happier.

Eric Elam:

I was energized again.

Eric Elam:

I was feeling fulfilled.

Eric Elam:

I was feeling like, I know I can make this thing work.

Eric Elam:

And, the second year I landed another client and, things took off from there.

Eric Elam:

And now I'm 13 years in it.

Eric Elam:

there have been some years that are much better than others.

Eric Elam:

I've learned a lot along the way.

Eric Elam:

There have been a lot of, unexpected transitions moving into this that I had no

Eric Elam:

idea what I was getting in, getting into.

Eric Elam:

maybe if I had known everything that I was getting into, I wouldn't have done this.

Eric Elam:

So it was probably best that I didn't know.

Eric Elam:

it's funny.

David Shriner-Cahn:

I see a number of parallels in our situations.

David Shriner-Cahn:

like you, I have been laid off several times in my career the first time.

David Shriner-Cahn:

I totally didn't see it coming.

David Shriner-Cahn:

it was very early on.

David Shriner-Cahn:

I'd been working for about four years at that point.

David Shriner-Cahn:

And the company I worked for had lost a lot of business and terminated a big

David Shriner-Cahn:

percentage of the staff, including me.

David Shriner-Cahn:

And at that point I actually thought about becoming an entrepreneur and doing

David Shriner-Cahn:

something, not necessarily consulting, but just doing something as an entrepreneur.

David Shriner-Cahn:

I, I knew so little about how to run a business, that

David Shriner-Cahn:

it just, it wasn't feasible.

David Shriner-Cahn:

And I ended up getting another job, but in a different sector, I went from

David Shriner-Cahn:

engineering to the nonprofit world.

David Shriner-Cahn:

So I did make a transition, but not quite the one that I had initially hoped.

David Shriner-Cahn:

And then when I started my consulting business in 2006, one of my

David Shriner-Cahn:

mentors at the time, Said to me.

David Shriner-Cahn:

And I was pretty early on in my business and I I was getting some traction and

David Shriner-Cahn:

he said, you have to be really motivated to make it work as a consultant.

David Shriner-Cahn:

You may also find that there is someone who offers you a job, whe somebody that

David Shriner-Cahn:

you're consulting for offers you a job, and you're gonna have to make a decision.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Whether you take the job or you really wanna pursue.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Getting this consulting business thing to actually work the way you want it.

David Shriner-Cahn:

And in fact, there was, there was an opportunity that came along

David Shriner-Cahn:

that was really a plum job and with really good compensation.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Tied to it that I ended up, not pursuing because I really wanted

David Shriner-Cahn:

to make the consulting thing work.

David Shriner-Cahn:

I totally relate to that.

David Shriner-Cahn:

And you have to go all in, like you said, you have to have

David Shriner-Cahn:

faith that it's gonna work.

David Shriner-Cahn:

You have to go all in.

David Shriner-Cahn:

And the financial situation is definitely quite different

David Shriner-Cahn:

than when you're an employee.

David Shriner-Cahn:

It's not consistent.

David Shriner-Cahn:

And some years are really good, some years, not so much.

David Shriner-Cahn:

And you have to be comfortable with that.

Eric Elam:

Yep.

Eric Elam:

David we're all products of our past environment.

Eric Elam:

And, the second time I got laid off was, my first ad agency job and

Eric Elam:

I was VP of business development.

Eric Elam:

So it was my job to bring in new business.

Eric Elam:

And I was bringing into business.

Eric Elam:

Then we'd lost.

Eric Elam:

One of our largest clients at and T was one of our largest clients.

Eric Elam:

It was at and T cable or broadband at the time.

Eric Elam:

And they were a large percentage of our business.

Eric Elam:

And, I never thought I was gonna get laid off.

Eric Elam:

And the head of the agency brought me in and said, I hate to do this, but

Eric Elam:

quite frankly, you're making too much money and we just lost a lot of revenue.

Eric Elam:

And I guess having been laid off for the second time, when I felt

Eric Elam:

like I was doing my job changes your perception of security, right?

Eric Elam:

people always think, wow, you've got a secure job.

Eric Elam:

No.

Eric Elam:

When somebody else controls your destiny and you don't control

Eric Elam:

it, you can be gone the next day.

Eric Elam:

It doesn't matter if you're doing a good job.

Eric Elam:

So those were definitely factors.

Eric Elam:

When I went out on my own, it was like, okay, I've been laid off twice.

Eric Elam:

Maybe this time I can control my own destiny and you brought up something

Eric Elam:

else that I think was really important.

Eric Elam:

We all have a handful of mentors in, in, in our lives.

Eric Elam:

And,

Eric Elam:

I had a gentleman who was one of my mentors who's just recently retired.

Eric Elam:

One of the more brilliant corporate identity strategists that, I think in

Eric Elam:

the world, the guy's name is Philip Durbrow, ran a company called Marshall

Eric Elam:

Strategy out on the west coast.

Eric Elam:

I hired him for a project when I was on the corporate side

Eric Elam:

and I learned so much from him.

Eric Elam:

And when I was time for me to consider going out on my own, I called Philip

Eric Elam:

and told him what I was gonna do.

Eric Elam:

And he encouraged me said, you can do this.

Eric Elam:

You're capable.

Eric Elam:

You have the skills.

Eric Elam:

What do you have to lose?

Eric Elam:

Go do it.

Eric Elam:

I think a lot of times we rely on those mentors, the people

Eric Elam:

that we followed when we were.

Eric Elam:

Building our careers.

Eric Elam:

I learned a lot from watching how he ran his business.

Eric Elam:

So it was interesting to hear you talk about a mentor because I think

Eric Elam:

it was a big factor for me, but no, not all the years have been good.

Eric Elam:

Okay.

Eric Elam:

And there are things that you don't necessarily think about,

Eric Elam:

when you go out on your own, I didn't think about cash flow.

Eric Elam:

Okay.

Eric Elam:

I was so used to a check, every two.

Eric Elam:

And early on cash flow was good.

Eric Elam:

And then I had a couple of years that were a little lean and it was

Eric Elam:

like, whoa, I hadn't seen a check roll in six weeks or eight weeks.

Eric Elam:

And that's, something you have, you learn to live with the cash flow issue.

Eric Elam:

You learn to balance a little bit better.

Eric Elam:

When you're on the corporate side or working for an agency, you have an it

Eric Elam:

department, when things, collapse for you and you're on your own, you better

Eric Elam:

get it fixed pretty quick, because how are you gonna be able to communicate

Eric Elam:

with your clients, all those things that were the spoils of working for

Eric Elam:

someone else, but you learn to work around them, they're barriers and you

Eric Elam:

just have to learn to work through them.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Yeah.

David Shriner-Cahn:

And I also have found that in the last.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Two and a half years with the upending of all of our lives and businesses

David Shriner-Cahn:

with the COVID restrictions that, so solo-preneurs have often been much

David Shriner-Cahn:

more flexible and quick to respond to the changing marketplace and some have

David Shriner-Cahn:

done quite well during this period.

Eric Elam:

That's interesting.

Eric Elam:

actually one of my larger clients did quite well during the pandemic.

Eric Elam:

And, I really was a little bit surprised by that.

Eric Elam:

But part of it was, there were some people who panicked, right?

Eric Elam:

And they stopped doing their marketing.

Eric Elam:

They stopped advertising, but this particular company

Eric Elam:

took a different approach.

Eric Elam:

It's we're gonna come out on the other end of this.

Eric Elam:

So let's say the course, those are great clients to have,

Eric Elam:

obviously with solopreneur.

Eric Elam:

clients who don't panic in clients who are willing to stay the course.

Eric Elam:

And I've always tried to find clients who view marketing as an

Eric Elam:

investment and not an expense.

Eric Elam:

There are some clients who view it as an expense.

Eric Elam:

It's a line item in the budget, but, smart clients know that you have to invest.

Eric Elam:

You have to invest in good times and in bad times,

David Shriner-Cahn:

Yeah.

David Shriner-Cahn:

And actually, you've just brought up 2 billion important points.

David Shriner-Cahn:

So with regard to marketing, if you look at the data during, long periods of time,

David Shriner-Cahn:

companies that have continued to invest in marketing, when business is bad, do

David Shriner-Cahn:

much better when business turns around.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Yes, because yes, business does turn around.

David Shriner-Cahn:

The economy has.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Up times and it's down times and you do need to invest in marketing when the

David Shriner-Cahn:

economy is weak, because it does rebound.

David Shriner-Cahn:

And if you're not top of mind, when the economy rebounds, you will

David Shriner-Cahn:

miss out on huge opportunities.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Yes.

Eric Elam:

If I could just give you the one little case study, the

Eric Elam:

client that I'm referring to is a company called Salon Concepts.

Eric Elam:

They're in the booth rental business.

Eric Elam:

They rent suites to salon professionals, hair, stylists,

Eric Elam:

nail techs, cetera, et cetera.

Eric Elam:

And they only operate in Cincinnati and Minneapolis.

Eric Elam:

They have a total of 24 stores, but at the beginning of the pandemic,

Eric Elam:

their occupancy rate was like 84%.

Eric Elam:

this past month they had a record high of 93%.

Eric Elam:

So during some really trying times over the last 24 months,

Eric Elam:

26 months, whatever that was.

Eric Elam:

They've grown their business, and they were willing to invest at

Eric Elam:

times when others were pulling back.

Eric Elam:

So I love those kind of stories.

Eric Elam:

They're few and far between, but clients who, dig in and say,

Eric Elam:

okay, we're not going anywhere.

Eric Elam:

We're gonna ride out the storm.

Eric Elam:

We're gonna continue to invest in marketing.

Eric Elam:

We're not going to pull back and then you see them be successful.

Eric Elam:

those are great stories.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Yeah.

David Shriner-Cahn:

I also wanna recognize the fact that when it comes to building a business that has

David Shriner-Cahn:

no walls, you were ahead of the curve.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Cause in 2009, it was not necessarily looked upon as a positive attribute to

David Shriner-Cahn:

be bringing on a consultant or hiring a business that didn't have an office space.

Eric Elam:

It was a barrier for me and

Eric Elam:

I learned some hard lessons I learned who was the ideal client.

Eric Elam:

Okay.

Eric Elam:

There are some clients who are comfortable with an ad agency that has four

Eric Elam:

walls that has a big conference room.

Eric Elam:

I didn't have any of that.

Eric Elam:

I was operating out of my home and I was very transparent with everyone.

Eric Elam:

And I found out that some clients just weren't comfortable with my model.

Eric Elam:

And that was okay because David, I didn't need.

Eric Elam:

A lot.

Eric Elam:

It was the quality of clients that I was seeking, not the quantity.

Eric Elam:

And I ha had to recognize.

Eric Elam:

And that's where I'd learned that the companies that really

Eric Elam:

responded well to my story.

Eric Elam:

Were small to mid-size businesses.

Eric Elam:

They were companies that knew that they needed marketing support.

Eric Elam:

They were intimidated by agencies.

Eric Elam:

They did not want to pay big retainers.

Eric Elam:

They couldn't afford to pay big retainers.

Eric Elam:

So I made a decision early on that I was not gonna be retainer based.

Eric Elam:

I was project based and that was somewhat risky, but I always had this belief.

Eric Elam:

That if you do a great job with project number one,

Eric Elam:

project number two will follow.

Eric Elam:

Okay.

Eric Elam:

Even if you have a retainer, clients can still fire you.

Eric Elam:

They can still cancel your contract.

Eric Elam:

And usually it's, 30 days and you're out.

Eric Elam:

I really started to learn who was an ideal client.

Eric Elam:

So it was those small to mid-sized clients that they were in a growth mode.

Eric Elam:

Okay.

Eric Elam:

They were trying to grow their business.

Eric Elam:

They needed marketing support, but they didn't wanna take a big risk

Eric Elam:

by signing a long term contract.

Eric Elam:

Secondarily, they were typically companies.

Eric Elam:

Did not have a marketing person on staff.

Eric Elam:

At least they didn't have a marketing strategist on staff.

Eric Elam:

That was one of the things that I thought I could bring to the table

Eric Elam:

because I had been a corporate marketer and I had been on the agency side.

Eric Elam:

I had worn both hats.

Eric Elam:

So I could come into a client and say, I can provide you

Eric Elam:

with that marketing strategy.

Eric Elam:

I can provide you with the guidance to move your business forward.

Eric Elam:

And when you need agency services, I can deliver them.

Eric Elam:

Now, the way I do that and the way I've done that.

Eric Elam:

That's the associates part of Elm associates.

Eric Elam:

One of the benefits of being in this market for a long time, David

Eric Elam:

is I knew all the good people.

Eric Elam:

I knew all the good freelancers and, I had reached out to a number of them when

Eric Elam:

I was getting ready to make this move.

Eric Elam:

And I said, I'm gonna need your support.

Eric Elam:

I'm gonna need your help.

Eric Elam:

Because I'm gonna generate work.

Eric Elam:

I'm gonna generate work for you.

Eric Elam:

And for me, these are copywriters.

Eric Elam:

These are designers.

Eric Elam:

These are web developers.

Eric Elam:

These are social media experts.

Eric Elam:

These are media planners, PR professionals, you name it.

Eric Elam:

I had a bullpen to go to.

Eric Elam:

And the advantage that I had is I could go to the client and

Eric Elam:

say, you're only going to pay for these people when you need them.

Eric Elam:

We're gonna do project for you.

Eric Elam:

I'm gonna give you an estimate of what it costs to bring them in.

Eric Elam:

I'm gonna run this like an agency.

Eric Elam:

But it's a virtual agency.

Eric Elam:

There's no walls.

Eric Elam:

And, there's no long term commitments.

Eric Elam:

And my gut told me that this would work, that I could find clients

Eric Elam:

that would respond to this.

Eric Elam:

The greatest validation of this was about two and a half years into my business.

Eric Elam:

One of the former clients at my previous agency moved a

Eric Elam:

piece of their business, to me.

Eric Elam:

I may have mentioned this company's name to you before it's, Graeter's,

Eric Elam:

which is a company that has been making ice cream for over 150 years.

Eric Elam:

They, I think, not speaking outta school here, I think they had tired of

Eric Elam:

the traditional agency relationship.

Eric Elam:

They knew what I was doing.

Eric Elam:

They saw that I'd been out there for two years.

Eric Elam:

I had proven myself a little bit.

Eric Elam:

They gave me one project and our team killed it.

Eric Elam:

We just did fantastic work that won awards.

Eric Elam:

And, from 2012 to 2015, we basically became their agency of record.

Eric Elam:

And, a lot of satisfaction came from that because I had proven that we

Eric Elam:

could do quality work outside of the realm of a traditional agency.

Eric Elam:

Structure.

Eric Elam:

So probably one of my favorite stories and, I don't do much work with

Eric Elam:

them anymore an occasional project.

Eric Elam:

They now have a VP of marketing.

Eric Elam:

They didn't have a VP of marketing when they hired me,

Eric Elam:

they needed someone like me.

Eric Elam:

And that often happens where companies will grow and evolve

Eric Elam:

and eventually they hire people.

Eric Elam:

And when they hire people, they don't need me anymore.

Eric Elam:

But.

Eric Elam:

That's okay.

Eric Elam:

That's that's the nature of the business,

David Shriner-Cahn:

right?

David Shriner-Cahn:

for, congratulations on everything you've built, speaks to the power

David Shriner-Cahn:

of perseverance and also recognition of who you're meant to serve.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Who your business is and who your business is not great point.

Eric Elam:

Yeah.

Eric Elam:

And it, I had to learn that over time.

Eric Elam:

Okay.

Eric Elam:

Yeah.

Eric Elam:

And I made a lot of mistakes.

Eric Elam:

I early on, I got really aggressive and I was, responding to every RFP

Eric Elam:

that was out there for agency services.

Eric Elam:

And I was unsuccessful there and I started to realize it

Eric Elam:

was like, Eric, wake up here.

Eric Elam:

The clients that are sending out RFPs are used to working

Eric Elam:

with traditional ad agencies.

Eric Elam:

they're not interested in your business model and you spend weeks and weeks

Eric Elam:

working on these RFP responses.

Eric Elam:

Let's face it.

Eric Elam:

We're all competitive in this business.

Eric Elam:

If someone says, would you like to have an opportunity to win my business too often?

Eric Elam:

I would say, yeah, of course I do damn right.

Eric Elam:

I do.

Eric Elam:

And I'm gonna win, but I wasn't realistic about who was a good fit.

Eric Elam:

I've learned over time, who was a good fit for me.

Eric Elam:

And it's not the larger companies and there's so much more satisfaction that

Eric Elam:

comes from helping a young company grow and, being able to interact with

Eric Elam:

the founders and helping, Experiencing some of their pain along the way.

Eric Elam:

That's what I really enjoy doing

David Shriner-Cahn:

well again, Eric, congratulations on what you've built.

David Shriner-Cahn:

we've covered a lot of territory about your business

David Shriner-Cahn:

in particular, and also a lot.

David Shriner-Cahn:

The lessons learned.

David Shriner-Cahn:

If someone wants to, go deeper with anything we've discussed access

David Shriner-Cahn:

to any resources you have, or get in touch with you, where would be

David Shriner-Cahn:

the best.

David Shriner-Cahn:

the best way to reach me on LinkedIn, just search under ELAM

David Shriner-Cahn:

Associates and I will pop up all of my contact information is there.

David Shriner-Cahn:

I do have a website it's, ElamAssociates.com.

David Shriner-Cahn:

So both of those are great resources.

David Shriner-Cahn:

My phone number's on there.

David Shriner-Cahn:

I only have one phone number.

David Shriner-Cahn:

It's my cell phone.

David Shriner-Cahn:

I don't have a corporate line and a mobile line.

David Shriner-Cahn:

I just have a mobile / business line.

David Shriner-Cahn:

And I'm the only one that answers it.

David Shriner-Cahn:

That's one of the other things that I learned when I started my business is,

David Shriner-Cahn:

Eric, there's no one to delegate to.

David Shriner-Cahn:

So if you call that number, if there's only one person

David Shriner-Cahn:

that's gonna answer it, which.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Typically me if it's, a Friday and I'm watching one of my granddaughters,

David Shriner-Cahn:

they might answer my phone, but they usually hand it over to me.

David Shriner-Cahn:

So I love it.

David Shriner-Cahn:

I'm just being transparent about, and what is the phone number?

Eric Elam:

The phone number is (513) 703-5334.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Great.

David Shriner-Cahn:

we will include this information in the show notes, Eric, I want to

David Shriner-Cahn:

thank you so much for taking the time to join us today and Smashing

David Shriner-Cahn:

The Plateau and share your insights.

David Shriner-Cahn:

My guest has been the president of Elam Associates, Eric Elam.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Thank you again, Eric, for joining us.

Eric Elam:

David.

Eric Elam:

It's been a pleasure and thank you for creating the community because I will

Eric Elam:

tell you if you don't mind me saying in closing, I didn't know anything about

Eric Elam:

the community until I was referred to you by, a friend and colleague Rock

Eric Elam:

Robinson who has appeared on your show and I'm a devoted follower now.

Eric Elam:

I listened to all the podcast.

Eric Elam:

And it's great to, to be able to hear people who are dealing with

Eric Elam:

a lot of the same things that I am dealing with and have dealt with.

Eric Elam:

So you're providing a great service to the solo entrepreneur

Eric Elam:

community and, for that personally

Eric Elam:

thank you.

David Shriner-Cahn:

thank you.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Thank you so much, Eric, because it's an honor to, to hear

David Shriner-Cahn:

this and to be able to serve.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Folks like us that need this help.

Eric Elam:

All right.

Eric Elam:

David, I look forward to talking to you again soon.

Eric Elam:

Thank you.

David Shriner-Cahn:

Thank you, Eric.

David Shriner-Cahn:

All right.

Eric Elam:

Bye-bye

David Shriner-Cahn:

When you visit the Smashing The Plateau website at

David Shriner-Cahn:

smashingtheplateau.com, you'll find a summary of each episode, along with

David Shriner-Cahn:

the links we mention on the show.

David Shriner-Cahn:

On today's episode with Eric Elam we learned how to start and build a solo

David Shriner-Cahn:

business in your field of expertise.

David Shriner-Cahn:

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David Shriner-Cahn:

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David Shriner-Cahn:

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David Shriner-Cahn:

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David Shriner-Cahn:

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David Shriner-Cahn:

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David Shriner-Cahn:

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If you're committed to getting your consulting, coaching, or small business

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David Shriner-Cahn:

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David Shriner-Cahn:

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David Shriner-Cahn:

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David Shriner-Cahn:

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David Shriner-Cahn:

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David Shriner-Cahn:

Learn more at smashingtheplateau.com.

David Shriner-Cahn:

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