Michelle Kop – Level 28 Media

To get your business found in such a noisy world you can either pay or do something extreme to get noticed.  The extreme stuff doesn’t always work, but the paid advertising route, if done correctly, can net you some profitable results.

She details some tips and tricks in the PPC world that many people simply don’t know, leading to wasted money and time and ending in frustration.

Listen as Michelle Kop, founder of Level 28 Media, explains how she started and built her pay per click business to help those businesses that need a marketing boost.


Visit Michelle at: https://level28media.com/
Authentic Business Adventures Podcast

Podcast Overview:

[00:04:18] Pay-per-click lead generation marketing agency specializing in Google Ads, working with small businesses for impactful results.

[00:08:28] Snake oil in industry, be transparent with clients.

[00:14:34] Small business owners frustrated with previous agencies and freelancers. New approach offers value and goal-oriented strategies. Lack of understanding and strategy from previous hires.

[00:21:43] Lack of training and operations issues affect sales.

[00:32:18] Vet clients carefully, cut ties if necessary.

[00:33:58] Accountability and forward-thinking crucial for successful client relationships.

[00:42:50] Google advertising: Cost varies, can be expensive

[00:46:27] Ask for references, check portfolios, industry experience.


Business Podcast Transcription:

James [00:00:03]:

You have found authentic business adventures, the business program that brings you to struggle stories and strength and success of business owners across land. Downloadable audio episodes can be found in the podcast link, fun to draw in customers.com. Kop are locally underwritten by the Bank of Sun Prairie. Today, we’re welcoming slash preparing to learn from Michelle Kop, the founder of level 28 media. So, Michelle, how are you doing today? I’m doing well. Thanks, James, for inviting me onto your podcast. Yeah. I’m glad to have you. So Tell me level 28, let’s just start with the name. What is that?

Michelle Kop [00:00:36]:

So level 28, it actually came kind of randomly. It took a really long time to figure out the name of my business. We didn’t want and when I say we, I’m talking about me and my husband because started this business as a freelancer, and my husband was, like, my silent cheerleader in the background. And we didn’t want to pick, like, a generic agency name. So I actually come from an agency background. I did marketing advertising for a good 7 to 8 years. And once I had left the corporate world, I decided to go do freelance. And one of my friends was like, what’s the name of your company? And I was like, well, Michelle Kop consulting. And he’s like, no. You can’t be using that name. It’s not good. Very smart friend. He’s like, you can’t be using that name. You have to use a different name. So then I went to my husband, and I was like, okay. Well, what should we go with? There’s so many, like, cheesy names, like, out there when it comes to marketing agencies, like click up agency, improve performance agency, like some really cheesy ones. We didn’t wanna do that. We wanted something meaningful. Since you were driving around, we’re trying to look for inspiration, everywhere and everywhere. And we’re driving around on the freeway. We’re looking at specific words to see if we can get anything triggering that would like, that relates to who I am. And then one day, we actually went to we went to a shopping mall. And as you’re going up the as we were going with the parking structure, I saw the word level level 1. And I was like, oh, How about level 24 media? And 24 is actually it came from because I was born on the 24th December. So, like, it really Alright. And I was like, okay. That’s I love it, and my husband’s like, that’s a perfect name. We took, like, 2 months to try to figure it out. went on GoDaddy, bought the domain immediately. And then the next day, I realized that it’s 24, like, a bad luck number because I come from, like, my background is Chinese, and 4 is a bad luck number. It means death.

James [00:02:43]:

Oh, I didn’t know that.

Michelle Kop [00:02:45]:

So I called my mom, and I was like, Oh, well, you know, is 24 a bad number? I don’t wanna put a bad omen on my business. Like, I’m going to be filing paperwork. I need a good name. but I don’t know about 24. And she’s like, yeah. 24, when you translate, it means easy death. So that’s not a good name for it. Yeah. So instead of 24, it’s 28. And we change it to 28 because it’s, like, a secret meaning So 28 in Chinese actually means easy prosperity. So I wanted to or yeah. So that’s what I wanted it to mean. But on top of that, 28 I realized it was like a launching pad number for me. because when I turned 28, that’s when I started freelancing. That’s when I started That’s when I started working for big companies and getting promotions, and that was also the year when I was 28 when I got engaged. So that was just like, being 28, it just threw me back to, you know, a really positive great time in my life, and that’s what I wanted to incorporate in my business. So the secret meaning is easy prosperity, but what I tell clients is 28, it’s a it’s a very meaningful number to me. So that’s There. In a nutshell, you know, where it came from. Alright. That is so interesting that the numbers have that that meaning and all that jazz. I had no idea that 24 is easy to death. have to be very careful using that number again. Yeah. It’s funny. I don’t know if there’s any easy prosperity.

James [00:04:09]:

Maybe a little bit. We, like, at least fun prosperity. Right? Tell me or tell us, I guess, what is level 28 media?

Michelle Kop [00:04:18]:

Level 28 media is a pay per click lead generation marketing agency So what I specialize in is really paid search or Google Ads. So I’m sure you probably heard of, like, SEO ranking on the search engines when someone’s searching on Google, and that’s ranking organically. But what I do is I help clients appear on Google, but on the paid results. So you do need an advertising budget to appear and to appear higher. Of course, you’re gonna have to be willing to, you know, pay a higher fee Every time someone searches, there’s an option that takes place. And then with that, then Google will then serve ads. And that’s what I do. I manage ads for clients through Google Ads and essentially generate leads for them. So I work with a lot of local businesses well as b to b, my background is actually in advertising. So I used to do this for Toyota AMPM Arco Sage accounting software. A lot of these big brands when I was in corporate, but then I left and wanted to just focus on small business. I felt a lot more compelled and more excited to work on small businesses because there’s, like, less red tape. And it’s more exciting too because, like, you see, you can watch your small business clients grow versus when you’re already working for, like, a big company, you can’t really see the impact that you’re making because it’s just like they’re us tiny a tiny needle in the haystack. I don’t know if you can relate. I’m sure you probably can. But, you know, then started working with these small businesses and seeing the impact it really it felt there’s a sense of fulfillment that I’d never felt before when I started working with these small business. So that’s essentially what I do. I work with lawyers, doctors, dentists, software businesses, anything you name it in terms of, like, lead generation,

James [00:06:09]:

typically more like high higher ticket services, though. Alright. I imagine so that the the margin both to spend on ads as well as the I guess, to wherewithal to know to do that. Exactly. because we I call answering service, and we target a lot of clients that are, I would consider it be higher ticket per transaction, but that’s purely because it has to be for the phone call to be worth paying the client pain to have it answered. Exactly. — like, you may have a hot dog stand or whatever. We’re probably not a good fit for you. Even though somebody may call your hot dog stand, selling your hot dogs for a couple bucks. It’s not gonna be worth it. So — Exactly.

Michelle Kop [00:06:53]:


James [00:06:54]:

Interesting. I started of flower business online flower business, online flower ordering, and I went to pay for ads for that. And holy cow talk about competition, crazy competition that I would have never guessed, from a bidding standpoint for the ads, So per click, we’re looking at 40, $50 in our market because I think I mean, from what I could tell are the people that I work with told me. was that these are people that were bidding for wedding flowers and funeral arrangements and stuff where it’s 100 or 1000 of dollars And I was trying to get people to spend 50 or a hundred bucks on flowers. So the margin that we had, like, we didn’t have 50% margin to toss to just acquiring the customer or even get a click to hopefully get that customer.

Michelle Kop [00:07:41]:

Yeah. Exactly. That’s why I mentioned high margin because at the same time, you need to allow for room for the advertising budget and the room for the person to pay to, like, actually manage it. So that’s why I tend to go for the higher ticket ones where customer lifetime value is, like, at least, like, in the thousands, but we know it’s gonna be easier to recoup and see a higher return on investment, and therefore, the longevity is gonna be there in terms of recurring revenue for for my business. but then also, you know, the client’s just gonna stay with me for a longer period of time, and everyone’s happy overall.

James [00:08:15]:

Yeah. So with SEO, there’s a lot of people that can just hang this shingle out. They’re like, hey. I’m an SEO expert. How do you differentiate yourself from the millions, thousands of people out there that are saying, hey. We’re SEO experts.

Michelle Kop [00:08:28]:

Yeah. So just in general, like, in this industry, there’s just so much snake oil. With SEO, with pay per click advertising, which is what I really specialize in, there’s just so many people that claim that they can do they can get you on the page 1 of Google or the top of page 1, like like, by tomorrow, but a lot of it is just a bunch of you know, a bunch of lot Right? And then they’re using a lot of, like, bad tactics that are against, like, Google’s policies, and then eventually you just get shut down. So I think what a little what it comes down to is just, like, setting the right expectations with clients. I’m very upfront about how there’s no such thing as a guarantee. I know that’s really hard to swallow when you’re making a big investment. Right? If I’m asking you for 2, 3, even 5000 for a small business, that’s a lot of money. to be, you know, investing into ads. And it’s you know, they see it as an investment maybe a gamble, but then at the same time, it’s like, You also need to understand that that’s the only way that you can really test things out to see. Is this even a viable channel? just like what you do with the flowers, at least, you know, with your flower business, you tried it out. You saw that it wasn’t producing a return on investment. you shut it off, and that’s it. But I think the key is for me and what I say that really differentiates me is I’m very straightforward. If I don’t feel like I can really deliver for you, I’m not going to even get put out a proposal. I just don’t wanna waste your time at the end of the day. I know lots of there’s so many companies. There’s, like, looking for volume, looking for revenue, but at the same time, like, the honesty and integrity is what’s really lacking in this industry. So I think the key is really just being transparent about how there’s no guarantee, but also setting expectations, like, what we can learn from this time period how long it’s gonna take to actually start seeing results and what type of potential results we can expect. So typically, I like to go for clients that I already have worked in their industry. So it’s easier for me to know, like, hey. I know that it’s worked in this industry and this geography. So let’s try to duplicate this success in another area. So then we’re not gonna run into a blip like, oh, you know, this random Rubik’s cube business is, you know, generating is not generating results. you know, after, like, 3 months, and then I felt bad that I charged them, but I did my job. So, like, I tried to avoid that by working with, like, you know, a subset of, like, verticals that I know, like, there is demand for. Because with SEO, with pay per click, and just searching general, It’s really challenging because, you know, you can’t control as the advert as the person managing the ads. Who’s searching and when they’re searching? It’s based off of search demand and search behavior. So, honestly, it’s an amazing thing because you can see how people behave. It’s kinda like a silent, like, focus groups who could see how people behave. But at the same time, there’s only so much you can control even if you’re the best pay per click Google Ads marketer in the world. It’s not you and you set up a campaign for, like, a random business that doesn’t have any search volume. you’re wasting your time. So I think what it just comes down to is integrity and transparency with clients, and just having, like, a very clear roadmap of what you’re gonna work on. I think, like, the strategy is gonna be important. I think it’s really easy if you’re, like, looking for someone to manage your ads to go look and just compare based off of pricing, but we’re not buying flowers here. We’re actually looking for, you know, someone that’s gonna be that strategic guide gonna take you from point a to point z or wherever you need to go — Mhmm. — with the least amount of friction. And a lot of companies And I I’m not sure if you’ve experienced this yourself, though. A lot of companies, they have to go through multiple agencies, freelancers, or partners in order to find the right fit. And, you know, it’s it’s frustrating because, you know, people are you know, lazy, they don’t respond or they just can’t get results and, you know, to to that end, there’s only so much you can do if you can’t get results. so then you just have to part ways and and move on.

James [00:12:44]:

Yeah. The most I’m working with a guy now who’s doing Well, ish. I don’t know. He’s he’s doing okay, but I don’t know. I don’t know much to compare him too. That’s that’s great. I have plenty of other agency that I’ve hired that did not do well. Right. The most recent one before this one, they actually I signed up with a guy that I knew. Everything was cool, signing up the sales process all that jazz until I found out that he was outsourcing it. Oh, no. So we ended up getting the craziest calls. We would get calls. So it was marketing for call answering service. Okay. So we would get calls for people looking for customer service for whatever they had a problem with. So we would get people saying — Okay. — hey. My mattress is broken. And we’re like, wow. Oh my gosh. Or is this Amazon customer service? Yes. So oh my gosh. So we would get these collars, and I don’t know what I mean, because he wanted to, like, the ad didn’t say anything about that. But I guess maybe people are just dumb, so they thought, hey. It’s customer service. It must be customer service for me, specifically, whatever. Yeah. I based off of what you’re describing to me, it’s the keyword strategy. He’s going after the wrong keywords. Oh my god. So when we look into that because I’m like, how can it be this bad? because it was a light switch. Those ads went on. We had tons of calls in, so we’re like, yay. Ads are working. They’re, like, listening to the calls. Oh my gosh. I felt so bad for my crew because they’re taking these calls that people are pissed about just weird stuff. Right? Like, I my Chick bounced. We had a lot a ton of mattress calls, pool calls, stuff like — No, man. — so my crew was like, dude. Shut it off. I don’t know what is going on, but we look at the ads, and it was super vague, extremely vague. And it costs us 1000 of dollars. Yeah. So, like, we’re paying for junk.

Michelle Kop [00:14:34]:

Yeah. And that’s the biggest frustration that I hear when I’m when I speak with small business owners that have hired agencies and freelancers before me, they’re just like, I just got burned. I just spent 1000 and 1000 of dollars, what makes you different? And they come to me with a very, like, stern tone, and it’s like, oh, you’re the 4th person I’m hiring for this. I hope 4th times the charm. But what I say is, hey. Like, here’s my approach. If you like it, then great. If not, then I’m not gonna force you to work with me. But this is what I would do differently compared to what your previous agency was doing differently. I’m not just gonna give you a quote and say, oh, I manage keywords I write ads. No. That’s not enough. Like, especially, like, for me being, like, a premium you know, person in a premium company in the industry. I if I’m trying to position myself as that I need to be able to to put out, you know, value. That’s not just like, oh, this is what I’m gonna do, but this is this is your goal, and this is how I’m gonna try to help you get there. but still also caveat that there’s no guarantee either that — Right. — there’s going to be a learning curve. I could be an expert in Google Ads pay per click advertising, but for your industry, it might take some time. There’s a learning period and whatnot. So You know? If you didn’t hear that before from your previous whoever you hired for, like, as an agency, and then all of a sudden you’re getting all these random phone calls, then you start really questioning, like, their integrity and you also start questioning, you know, was this even a good hire? Because they don’t even understand my business. Mhmm. Right? Like, the fact that, you know, you hired someone to run ads for you and you’re getting all these random calls, like, that type of thing, I’m surprised that’s not even the first thing that came to their mind. Like, oh, we could be attracting Amazon customer support or Mattress Firm customer support. Let’s try to mitigate that from the beginning. So that just tells me that whoever’s managing it didn’t either is very junior. Right? So, like, they’re outsourcing it to a junior team. Mhmm. But on top of that, there’s no strategy. It’s like, okay. Let’s just pick a few keywords, and then let’s just run it and, like, pray spray and pray that this is still work.

James [00:16:48]:

Yeah. It was definitely definitely a shotgun approach. You know, it was one of those where I have too much going on to want to learn that whole aspect, which is — Right. — the same reason anybody outsources anything that I want the time, you take the money, we’ll just move on with their lives. He will I feel like he’s a smart person. He just

Michelle Kop [00:17:08]:

I don’t know. Maybe we were a smaller fish compared to some of his bigger stuff, so he just outsourced it. Yeah. And what I’ll also say is it takes someone with a lot of integrity too to own up to, like, if a campaign’s not working. I think that that’s a really hard conversation to have as a service provider because you end up having to tell a client, like, hey. I gave it my all, And we tried so many strategies, but I really don’t think that this is the right fit for you. It’s hard. And those are that’s I’ve had to have some conversations like that too in the past, and it really it really hurts in the heart to have to say that. because, you know, it hurts from a revenue perspective because you’re like, well, I’m not adding that. Like, I’m not adding value, and, therefore, my revenue is gonna be cut. But at the same time, when you’re looking at it from an integrity standpoint, it’s like, okay. Well, we gave it a shot. The client is not mad that it didn’t work, but I just need to be very frank that this is just not the right channel. But then instead of just cutting them off, say, why don’t you try this instead? Like, maybe paid social ads. That’s not my area of expertise, maybe SEO might be a better long term play for you, maybe podcasting. So I think that, you know, having that courage to, like, own up to it. A lot of a lot of agencies are not gonna do that because they’re after the volume game. Freelancers on A lot of freelancers aren’t gonna do that because they’re also after the revenue too. But it takes, you know, someone with a lot of integrity to have to be like, okay. We gave it a fair shot. It’s been 90 days, and I think that this is not the right avenue for you. Yeah. That’s fair.

James [00:18:48]:

Yeah. Yeah. I told this most recent guy I said, if you can get this to work, I am happy to throw money at you. Happy to. I would love that to be, like, one of those churning things where you’d turn a $1000 into $10,000. If the marketing works, that’s what you can do. So it’s one of those, like, please let me throw money at you. If you turn in a $1000 into 0, then I’m probably not gonna throw some cash at you. Exactly. Exactly. — for long anyways. Tell me when somebody comes to you, what are some of the mistakes or the things that you see that they have done before that you’re just like, oh, boy.

Michelle Kop [00:19:23]:

Oh, boy. I understand that you did that because a lot of people do that, but it’s just a a big no no. Some of the bad things that you see people have done. Yeah. That’s a great question. I think, like, If if we’re looking at it from a 10 thousand foot view, we’re not even looking at, like, the ad account and, like, getting technical. I would say the number one issue that I find with clients is they’re not even ready to run ads because they don’t have operations. They don’t even have their operation dialed in. even have someone to answer the phone call. They need your team. Amen to that. Right? They need your team to answer the phone calls. And, you know, with working with a lot of, like, solo perneurs, it can be really challenging. These are very, you know, successful solo perneurs that You know? They’re making a good amount of money. They wanna advertise, but then they don’t have the resources to answer the phone. So why are we spending 5 1000 to 10000 bucks a month when you can’t even answer the phone. And I’m listening because I have a call tracking system. I can listen to every single phone call that comes in, and it’s like, went to voice mail went to voice mail. And then, of course, we is, like, feels awkward to have to say, hey. Like, you need to get this thing dialed in or else it’s not gonna work. And then at the end of the day, like, you’re gonna end up getting rid of me too because because you’re not seeing a return on investment because you’re not answering the phones. Mhmm. So I think that that’s the number one thing is just not following up on leads. Number 1 is not following up on And then on top of that too is not following up on leads in a timely manner. So speed to lead is so critical when you’re doing lead generation. You know, if you don’t answer the phone or you don’t follow-up with that lead, they’re gonna move on to the next person in line on Google.

James [00:21:07]:

Yeah. We’ve had — What was that? We’ve had clients that have used us that had ads where people filled out a form. And I think we had, like, 4 minutes or something like that where we had to follow-up with a phone call. So the people knew that we were gonna call them, but there was no daily daily. you had to be on that thing. because if you didn’t, people forget they’re just shifting gears, whatever is going on in their life. Yeah. It was crazy when somebody’s ready to buy, you got the pones out there. Exactly. Exactly. I have a I have a client. I’m not gonna say who it is because they might be listening eventually, but — Hopefully. Right?

Michelle Kop [00:21:43]:

Hopefully. But, yeah, I mean, they hire, you know, straight out of college, you know, straight out of college graduates. Nothing wrong with that, but then they don’t train them on how to actually be, like, a salesperson, right, or how to, like, close and stuff like It’s just like they just train them on how to answer questions, so that’s more of a customer service reps job. But then at the end of the day, if you really want the sales you needs a trained salesperson — Mhmm. — a sales, you know, SDR or someone that knows how to you know, answer that call and convert it into an actual sale, not just a customer service rep, a customer service rep, they might be able to help some basic things, and it’s kind of the luck of the draw. Like, some of them might be good. Some of them might not be good. But if they’re not working on commission and there’s no incentive, then you’re probably not gonna see much of a difference in terms of, you know, like, improvement in your ads. So that’s that’s typically the type of thing that I see, like, in terms of, like, a big miss stake. But a lot of times, like, it we don’t uncover it until we start actually running ads. And then we start seeing that the client’s not answering the phone or that their team’s not answering the phone. Because, actually, believe it or not, some when I’m talking to clients, I’ll ask them what’s your close rate, and they’ll they’ll be very confident. Like, oh, my close rates, like, I close every 9 out of 10 leads or that come in. But then I just take it with a grain of salt because maybe they’re only thinking about referrals or the easy leads. But when we’re talking about inbound traffic from Google, it can be fickle. people are not gonna be as loyal to you because they don’t really know your brand. So, you know, they client says 90% conversion. I actually bring that down closer to, like, 20% conversion. Okay. 2 out of 10. Yeah. So that like, if I’m if I’m doing some forecasts, it’s in that range. Alright. So it’s not pretty lower conversion rate, but I always try to be really conservative too. Like, I would rather be conservative than assume that the client’s right that it’s a 99 out of 10 conversion, but, typically, it’s not the case. And then what happens is once we start running the ads and then all the curtains are drawn back, then we start seeing, like, hey. You’re you know, your front desk person went out for a break, and they didn’t answer or, oh, your voice mail system is all backed up, and the customer couldn’t leave a voice mail. And then it starts, you know, having this, like, negative effect. And then the challenge with that is then the client doesn’t know how to fix these operations problems so then they end up having to stop services because they don’t know how to fix the operations issues, or they don’t have a good sales team.

James [00:24:29]:

Fair. Totally fair. I can tell you from our our business I mean, we’re we work with a lot of small businesses that are sub sub 20, even most of them are sub 10 employees. And when you ask them, even something as simple as how do you schedule whatever because we’re scheduling for them, They don’t they have it like, it’s all up here. They have no documented system. So we have to help them kinda pull that out of their brain because if we’re gonna be scheduling for them or doing whatever it is that they want us to do, we have to put together a system because we can’t just tell our crew, you know, just wing it. So were these business owners have been winging it kinda flying by the seat of their pants? Maybe with their pants on fire. For a while, they’ve been successful doing it, but that doesn’t scale.

Michelle Kop [00:25:14]:

Yeah. It does. — starting to grow a little bit, and then they’re learning, like, they’re systematized. I think, like, for me, it’s also important if we’re talking about, like, ideal customer persona in the beginning when I started my business, I was just willing to take on whoever is willing to pay me. Right? Like, oh, whoever just whoever wants to. Like, I’m desperate. I want as many clients as possible. But then the more that I started to work with clients I realized, like, oh, hey. This is probably not an ideal client because they don’t have their processes dialed in. Oh my gosh. This client went you know, has to file chapter 11. Okay. I don’t want that type of thing. No. You know? Or you know? So it just really taught me that what I’m looking for, an ideal client, it it’s not taking on any client that’s willing to pay me because I’ve been there before. It’s really taking on the right fit client and The way that I view it is I wanna I I want clients that are already winning because I wanna make them a bigger winner. versus, like, taking a loser of a client and then, like, you know, trying to make them a winner, it’s much harder to do that. So that that’s definitely would have been, like, my approach. And what I look for is typically clients that have been in business for at least 3 to 5 years that have at least half a $1,000,000 in revenue that have growing teams that so I have these clues when I’m, like, evaluating whether a client is gonna be a good fit or not. But those are, like, the, like, criterias

James [00:26:41]:

that I tend to look at versus, like, oh, whoever’s willing to pay me, I’m willing to work with them. That is impressive. I love that. working with winners rather than losers and trying to build them up for to winners. That is incredible. I love that saying, I’m gonna use that. That’s impressive. That is impressive. When did you make that shift moving from taking anybody that has money or is willing to pay you money? to now we can be a little bit more strategic

Michelle Kop [00:27:07]:

or a little bit pickier about who we work with. So I actually started my business in 2020, so I left actually corporate America right act right before right before, like, the lockdown and the pandemic. So that takes some time to really think about what I wanted to do. And for the 1st couple of months, I was just trying to get my feet wet. I I had a lot of, like, insecurities and doubts about, like, starting my own business and didn’t really know that many people. Like, a lot of entrepreneurs in my life. So a lot of the people surrounding myself we’re like, oh, you should go back to a 9 to 5. It’s easier. Don’t don’t — Woah. Did they really? Yeah. And I think it’s just, like, the security thing and the 401k and the bank and all of that that everyone’s thinking about. But at the end of the day, it’s like when you go and you work for, like, a big company, you’re not really that secure. They can let you go too. like, just what we saw in the pandemic. But to answer your question, like, when did I officially make that shift? So I was pretty much willing to take on any client probably for the 1st year. And then after I started realizing how much turnover and churn I was getting. I was like, oh, man. This is so tiring. I feel like I’m running a marathon, and I can’t keep up with it. And I know that in the at the end of the day, running a business is, like, running a marathon too, but it’s, like, it’s really the churn was really tough on me. because I was willing to take on this client, this client, and just like what I was saying, like, this client went bankrupt. This client ghosted me. This client didn’t pay their invoice. It’s like, Okay. No. I need to find winners, and I need to find people that I, you know, that I can trust that are already, like, you know, growing and that have systems in place. If they have systems in place and they’re already winning, then I can just help them become a bigger winner. So — Yeah. — I’d say that that was probably, like, 1 probably a year into my business when I was getting really burnt out of just taking whoever on, and I’ll alright. I can’t do this anymore. I just need I need the stability. Right? because I’m thinking too, like, in terms of, like, business I need that recurring revenue. I don’t want to be doing one off projects here and there. I don’t wanna be doing a bunch of custom work It’s way too draining. I need that recurring revenue. And how am I gonna get that? You know, besides just taking on any client, take on clients that already are doing really well high ticket where it’s just like a no brainer for them to work with me. Yeah. That’s very cool. that’s kudos to you for learning that so quick.

James [00:29:42]:

Thanks. That took me 7 years.

Michelle Kop [00:29:45]:

Oh my goodness.

James [00:29:46]:

because you’re just Like, we’re trying to figure out our model. I had a business partner before. She was cool, but we weren’t we weren’t as focused as we should be. guess is what it comes down to. So it was just kinda like, hey. We’re making money. It’s cool. Right. And never never realized that the headache that’s it kinda comes down to the 8020 rule. Right? 80% of your clients are gonna be 20 or how does that go? 20 percent of your clients are gonna bring 80 percent of your revenue. Right. And I suppose you go on there as well. There’s probably 20 percent of your clients are more of a headache than they’re worth.

Michelle Kop [00:30:22]:

So this is — Oh, yeah. No. I’ve actually been taught too. Like, I had a I had a coach earlier when I started my business, and she actually recommended to drop clients, like, every quarter. Like, pretty much — Oh, routinely. Yeah. Create, like, a spreadsheet and pretty much, you know, like, write down all your clients and then, like, pretty much do, like, a red light, yellow light, green light of, like, green is I love working with them yellow is meh. I don’t really care, and red is like, I really don’t like them. Maybe I should consider cutting them out. So it was something that I didn’t actually well, did I I think I did actually move forward with the 1 quarter, but then after that, I didn’t have any clients after that that I really felt strongly about, you know, getting rid of. Because at the end of the day, it’s like, with one client, if you’re if it’s really draining you so much, you can putting that effort into another client that’s — Mhmm. — not gonna be painful that could even be producing you even more revenue. So it’s, like, You know? This is one of those things where and I know too that there’s a lot of strategic coaches that teach this type of approach where it’s like, then you should start cutting, especially If you have people grandfathered in at, like, your lowest rates, you either need to raise your rate or just cut them entirely. Mhmm. Yeah.

James [00:31:37]:

Yeah. Totally fair. Yeah. It’s interesting how you talk to people that started their own businesses, entrepreneurs of the world, and they say that they started it for freedom and all that kind of stuff, which is totally cool, can understand it, all that jazz. But then they end up building their own prison, kinda locking themselves in with these people that they don’t like talking to. They don’t like working with. They annoy them. They’re losing sleep over this stuff. It’s like, no. No. No. No. No. No. No. I’ve been there. Yeah. You’re close to exactly what you want, but you gotta cut the cancer out sometimes. Whether that’s employees or clients or what have you, the headaches of the world in your business that you don’t necessarily have to deal with them,

Michelle Kop [00:32:18]:

or you just deal with them the one time, get rid of them. Exactly. No. I try to be very careful too, like, when I vet clients, but sometimes you don’t know how they’re gonna be until you start working with them. Totally true. Totally true. Yeah. And then when you start working with them, they’re already kinda like, you start getting some clues. And then maybe after 1st month, you’re, like, okay. Like, this is not a good fit of a client. I don’t and then a part of it’s like, okay. Well, how am I gonna have this conversation? about, like, cutting ties with them, or maybe let’s give them another month to really see. Are they just like this because it’s the beginning, or are they just going to be like this? And Actually, earlier this year, I had a specific client where I had this issue where I was like, okay. Maybe after the 1st 2 weeks, I already kinda had this gut feeling, but I didn’t think that it was gonna be a good fit. And then after the 1st month, I was like, I don’t think this is a good fit. We need to cut ties. Alright. Because no matter what, even though the you know, it’s bringing me revenue, it’s just not a good feeling every time he calls me, every time he emails me. It just feels, like, demanding, and it doesn’t feel like a partner relationship. That that’s how I try to feel with my clients. It’s like, I wanna feel like I’m a partner with you, your marketing partner. I don’t wanna feel like your slave or, you know, just, like, your hourly worker something. I don’t want you to value what I bring. I don’t want you to then tell me what to do. because if it’s a relationship where the client’s telling you what to do, then what’s the point of even paying a expert if you’re,

James [00:33:48]:

yeah, gonna tell them what to do. And that’s really frustrating. I can’t work like that. Yeah. Fair. Yeah. When I hire my SEO people or my marketing people, I guess, broadly,

Michelle Kop [00:33:58]:

I just they know what I want. We have a conversation then. You just get out of their way. Yeah. And those are my favorite clients. Those are my favorite clients. And then once or twice a month, we’ll check-in, and I’ll be very transparent about you know, what happened this month. Here is the performance. This because accountability to me is really important. That’s a number one thing that I think is lacking besides, like, the integrity too. with, like, you know, like, freelancers and agencies is accountability. They sign you up, and then they just they just leave or they don’t, like, show that they even care. And if you don’t if you can’t even show your clients that you care, why should they continue paying you for your services? Like, you need to show them that you care. that you’re forward thinking, that you’re thinking about what’s gonna happen 30, 60, 90 days from now, not just oh, this is this is the work I did. I added a few keywords. I adjusted your bids. Okay. Like, that’s what I would expect from an hourly employee, not an x I’m really looking forward to you to paint the vision for me for our future together, and that’s what my That’s what my approach is when I work with clients. I really try to paint a road map of. This is what you can expect when you’re working with me for at least 90 days every 90 days, we do a refresh of what they could potentially expect, given their budget, given the strategy, and and all of that. Yeah. I love you saying that the the hourly versus the outsourced.

James [00:35:21]:

because I tell my crew that I said, imagine that you made dinner and you ate it, and it was okay. And then you go to a restaurant and you order that same meal, and it’s okay. How do you feel? Like, when you make it, you’re like, whatever. It’s food. But when you go to a restaurant, you’re like, oh my gosh. We’re never coming here again. I hate this. because you essentially outsourced it, so it has to be better than what you can offer that someone that you can pay can offer. too. Yeah. Totally.

Michelle Kop [00:35:50]:

totally true. Yeah. because you’re expecting that chef to know what they’re doing. You’re expecting that chef to know what spices, how to, and how like, cook the meat and how to, you know, put all the different ingredients together to make a great meal. But — Yeah. — unfortunately, you know, a lot of these agencies and freelancers, they end up serving you like McDonald’s.

James [00:36:11]:

Yeah. Right? Here’s the same trash, whatever.

Michelle Kop [00:36:16]:

Yeah. Exactly.

James [00:36:17]:

Oh, that’s funny. So, Michelle, when you you started your business a few years ago, you had it going. You’re working with some cool clients. What do you see for the next, let’s say, over the course of the next 3 years for the business?

Michelle Kop [00:36:29]:

Over the course of the next 3 years, I’m actually gonna be launching a a course on LinkedIn Learning. So that’s actually it should be coming out within the next year. It’s all recorded. We’re in for about like, right now. So we’re really excited. That should be coming out. I think, like, in terms of, like, where I see the business going, I have a YouTube channel that I just started this year. My goal is my goal is to get that really ramped up. I think right now, we’re getting close to, like, 500 subscribers So it’s been, like, a good 6 months and probably, maybe, created, like, about 50 videos so far. We’d love to grow that. We’d love to mom advertise that and become, like, you know, an influencer in my pay per click industry space. Mhmm. And in terms of, like, where I see myself potentially going potentially having more having more employees, having more clients so I could, you know, scale the company. And then maybe even do some educational stuff because as I’m As I’m already producing a LinkedIn course, maybe even create some type of membership. I know that those are really popular. Right now, but creating such have a membership where I can be training people. because as I’m doing this YouTube thing, I’m seeing that there’s a lot of people that still need, like, you know, basic, like, help without even managing their account, but it’s like, oh, teach me Google Ads. So I think that it could be a potential offering for the future.

James [00:38:02]:

Nice. Very cool. So since you started your business, what are some challenges that you run into that you didn’t necessarily expect?

Michelle Kop [00:38:09]:

Well, I think that the biggest challenge is finding clients. I Alright. Yeah. I would say that, like, that was my number one fear. And the number one thing, like, holding me back in terms of even starting the business so it’s the confidence. It was a confidence thing. when it came to, like, finding clients, thinking like, oh, well, who would pay me to, like, help them with their business? And that was something that held me back for maybe a good 2 to 3 years. I’ve been thinking about I’ve been thinking about starting a business for a while. But the pandemic actually pushed me into that because there were no jobs. No one was hiring during that time. So I was like, alright. Like, let’s just go all in and see if I if nothing happens, within the next three months, like, since the start of the pandemic, I always go back to a 9 to 5. No big deal. Mhmm. And at least, like, I gave this time to, like, learn, but I’d say, yeah, the biggest challenge, you know, really came down to, like, how do I find clients So I just went on Reddit. There’s actually Reddit’s amazing, by the way. It’s a really great place to find, like, little communities And they found this community called RPPC, stands for our pay per click. That’s where a lot of the people in my industry hang out, so they’ll, like, be asking questions and you know, like, giving each other’s tips and stuff like that. So, like, I found my community online. They started contributing, and that’s where I met some people. I started having lots of Zoom coffee chats. I’d say, like, 2020 was a year of lots of Zoom and tea coffee chats. Like, meeting tons of people And just, like, picking, like, different agency owner brains on, like, how did you go about finding clients? What did you do? And, honestly, like, the answers I was getting wasn’t really helpful. Oh, referrals. Oh, yeah. So it’s like, okay. Well, like, that’s easy because you’re already been in business for so long. And if you do go to work, you will get referrals. Mhmm. But for me, it’s like, how do you how can you teach someone to get referrals if they don’t it’s like the chicken and the egg situation. Right? You need to have your first client before you can even get referrals. So that was my challenge. And for a really long time well, actually, for for a while, I was looking at all my different options. you know, potentially, could I be posting on this Reddit and see, like, is there someone that could be looking for? My help, looking at places like Upwork, And believe it or not, my first official paid client came from Craigslist. I’m not kidding you. I am not kidding. And he still with me till this day. Oh, that’s cool. — years.

James [00:40:46]:

Alright. 3 years. Yeah. We must be happy then.

Michelle Kop [00:40:49]:

Oh, he’s happy. He’s really happy. Yeah. So we’re things are going really strong. But yeah. So I tried Craigslist, and I was like, I don’t know. Like, you know Craigslist? It seems to be a little bit of, like, a weird like, place to find, you know, a gig or some, you know, business. But and he turned out that he’s only, like, a few miles away, Oh, funny. So it was, like, really local, and, yeah, it was just just kind of funny how that happened. It was my only client that ever came from Craigslist, but yeah, it just goes to show that, like, you you sometimes it can just come from random places. Alright.

James [00:41:27]:

Fair. That’s alright. So for one of the things that I run into with small businesses is that they don’t either budget enough or they don’t even know where to start. from a budget standpoint. So and I found, I guess, from my experience with advertising, depending upon the channel or the medium, there’s a minimum spend to have any effect at all. So if I went out and said, hey. I wanna place a billboard. I’m gonna have one billboard in the middle of a loan highway for 1 month, and I’m expecting it to just turn my business around. That’s probably not realistic. So is there a minimum spend that you would recommend for a just broadly speaking any given client?

Michelle Kop [00:42:09]:

That’s a really great question. So, typically, what happens is when when I get a client that’s interested in advertising, you know, first, I’ll, like, get a feel for, like, what their propensity to spend is. Right? And then You know, a lot of times, they they don’t have no idea. It’s like, god. I I wanna do it. I just don’t know how much. The challenge then is, like, For me to have, like, a number across every single industry, it’s really hard because there’s some industries that are super expensive. Let’s say, for instance, legal, In Los Angeles, the the keyword, personal injury attorney Los Angeles can cost as high as $1000 a click

James [00:42:49]:

Woah. Really?

Michelle Kop [00:42:50]:

Yes. Oh, I was getting excited about fifty bucks. Oh, definitely. Oh, no. Maybe fifty bucks is probably, like, 20 years ago, but, no, we’re looking at a $1000 a click. A click. So even if it’s the accidental click or something. It’s a click. So it’s very expensive. So that’s why it’s, like, And then there’s some industries that you can get away with. Maybe yeah. There’s some industries that you can get away with where it’s not that competitive you can get away with, like, a dollar a click. or $2. Like, I have a client that does waxing and tanning, and he maybe it’s, like, 2 to 3 bucks a click. But he’s in a really small town. It’s not competitive and so forth, but it really varies per industry. But what I will say, if you cannot spend at least $2000 a month, don’t even don’t even think about doing advertising on Google, at least. Right. So if you can’t even stomach that, then it’s not even worth your time. Gotcha. But if you’re in an industry where, like, your customer lifetime value, for instance, like, when you’re doing personal injury like law and it’s, like, potentially a wrongful death, case or something where you could be making millions than dropping a 1000 a couple well, maybe it won’t be dropping 1000. You’re gonna be dropping a couple like, maybe even, like, 10 to 20 k a day or something like that in order to, like, even get 1. Alright. But, yeah, it really just depends on the industry. I will say that, like, the legal industry is the most competitive of all industries.

James [00:44:20]:

Alright. — talking about Google Ads. Interesting. Yeah. I had a window company, and their leads are clicks, whatever. I wanna see there were a 100, couple 100, something like that. It was more than we were willing to stick in. Yeah. Exactly. The specific

Michelle Kop [00:44:35]:

The niche that we were after was kinda — Yeah. Exactly. So you really have to think about, like, again, the margins. Right? Like, How big is the customer lifetime value? What are the margins? And, like, does it even make sense? Like, there’s so many great industries that work well with pay per click. I’m talking locksmiths I’m talking, like, window companies to carpet cleaning. Mhmm. Like, when you have, like, services like that where it’s, like, recurring revenue, that’s great, or if you just have a really high ticket service like attorney services or even, like, accounting services too, Paper click advertising could be a really great avenue. I’d say definitely professional services and a lot of, like, local service based businesses are a really good place for Google Ads, pay per click advertising.

James [00:45:21]:

Yeah. Actually, you raised an interesting point. I was expecting some broad number, but I guess in the end, really depends where you are and what you’re doing.

Michelle Kop [00:45:29]:

Exactly. — doing it. Alright. So that’s why I just gave you a baseline. And, you know, if I’m talking to someone and I can already sense, like, that they’re probably not gonna be an ideal client. I just tell them upfront, like, hey. It’s gonna be at least $2000. That’s not even my fee. That’s just the fee just to even be somewhat competitive in a small tight radius in your area. So we can do, like, a 1 to 2 mile radius and then drop $2000 in there and see what happens. Yeah. But, yeah, like, if you can’t even stomach that, then let’s just not even waste each other. time and get back to me when you’re ready.

James [00:46:04]:

That’s fair. That is totally fair. Well, Michelle, I appreciate you being on the show. Yeah. Thank you so much. If I just have one more question, if you had a bit of advice or for someone that was looking to just hire an SEO expert, What is that one bit of advice that you would wanna share with them?

Michelle Kop [00:46:22]:

Check their reputation.

James [00:46:24]:

Oh, okay. How how do you do that? How do you do that?

Michelle Kop [00:46:27]:

Well, there’s a lot of different ways to go about doing that. So, number 1, ask for references. So if they don’t it so here’s the thing. Sometimes you can, like, go online and find, like, Google reviews or Yelp reviews. But if they’re newer, you can’t really, like, blame them for being newer. It’s like the chicken and the egg situation that we were talking about. Mhmm. So another thing is, like, checking their references, looking at their LinkedIn profiles And then also looking at do they have a portfolio of work to show you just like if you were hired, like a graphic designer or you know, like, a web designer or something. Like, do they have proven work that they can show you, or are they just all talk saying, like, oh, I can get you, like, a 1000 leads a day. So do they and, of course, even with the portfolio, someone can lie about stuff. So I think it’s important. Like, if you they have a portfolio, like, dig through it and and actually, you know, say, hey. Can I check with this client to make sure that, you know, this is you know, really what you did. And a lot of times, they’re like, oh, no. Like, this client like, we have, like, an NDA. I can’t share with you. Mhmm. But then, you know, if they’re really good you know, an honest person, they’ll they’ll have you know, they’ll be able to provide references and case studies and show you real results. I think the key thing too is, like, if they’ve already worked in your industry and they can show proven results, that’s already a big win. Right. If they haven’t worked in your industry, then it’s not necessarily a deal breaker, but it’s something that you will have to expect that if it doesn’t Excel or doesn’t succeed, then that’s could be, you know, one of the reasons why.

James [00:48:08]:

Fair. Totally fair. I love it. Michelle, thank you so much for being on the show. Can you tell us how people can find you? Yeah. You can go ahead and find me on LinkedIn.

Michelle Kop [00:48:19]:

go ahead and type in my name, Michelle, and my last name is spelled k o p. You can also find my YouTube channel that I launched just a few months ago. Just go ahead and type in level 28 media,

James [00:48:31]:

and you’ll be able to find it. And that’s pretty much it. Thank you so much. Sweet. I love it. This has been authentic business adventures, the business program that brings you the struggle stories and training successes of business owners across the land. We’re locally underwritten by the Century. If you’re listening or watching this on the web, you could do us a huge favor. Hit it the big old subscribe button. Hit that thumbs up button. And, of course, Share it with all your entrepreneurial friends, especially those that could use a little bit of SEO marketing help from Michelle or anyone else in the industry. Oh, what do we got here? My name is James Kademan, and Authentic Business Adventures is brought to you by calls on call, offering call answering and receptionist services for service businesses across the country as well as the bold business book, a book for the entrepreneur and all of us available wherever fine just hold. Like to thank you, our listeners, as well as our guest, Michelle Kop, the founder of level 28 media. And, Michelle, can you tell us that YouTube channel one more time? Yes. You can go ahead and just type in at level 28 media. At level 28 media. I love it. Past episodes can be found morning, noon, and night, podcast link, phone at drawincustomerscom. Thank you for listening. We will see you next week. I want you to stay awesome. And if you do nothing else, enjoy your business.

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