17. Jacob Baadsgaard, Disruptive Advertising The Importance of Developing Your Team and Life Lessons That Will Transform Your Firm

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Jacob Baadsgaard is the founder and CEO of Disruptive Advertising. After spending years working for some of the biggest brands in the world and helping them to intelligently analyze their analytics data, Jacob realized that his skills would be valuable to more than just the Fortune 500 companies.

With his company, Jacob now helps his clients to grow their own client base and develop their employees in order to foster sustainable client growth. Join us as we discuss how Jacob turned his business into one of the leading ad agencies in the US, why Jacob moved beyond founder-based selling and what he had to do to achieve that, and how Jacob nurtures his own staff to maximize their potential.

Transcript

Chris Dreyer

Industries like telecoms thrive because they have the ability to take something that was previously unavailable to the masses and make it available to everyone. And when my guest today realized that his skills were only available to the biggest companies, he decided to go out on his own and make them available to everyone.

Jacob Baadsgaard

The first few years of my career, I actually did web analytics implementation and consulting, and I actually worked with a lot of, kind of like fortune 100 type companies to make sure that they could track how effective their marketing dollars were online. And then tying that back into their actual customer database, helping them make good decisions. And I just remember there was a couple of moments that happened. One of them was, you know, I’m working with American express and John Deere and Home Depot and a lot of big brands. And I’m like, wait, if these guys don’t know how to do this – no one else knows how to do this. And what are like the normal sized companies out there doing?

Chris Dreyer

My guest today is Jacob Baadsgaard, founder and CEO of Disruptive Advertising. Since 2012, Jacob and his company have been helping businesses understand and improve their marketing efforts through pay-per-click management, CRO and life cycle marketing. On today’s show, Jacob shares with us how he turned his freelance web analytics service into one of the best ad agencies in the US, helping their clients to achieve company and employee client growth. We discuss how Disruptive Advertising has adapted in order to branch out and offer new services. Why Jacob moved away from founder based selling to scale his business. And how Jacob has incorporated his own life lessons into his teaching to improve his company’s service to his clients. That’s coming up on The Rankings Podcast, the show where founders entrepreneurs and elite personal injury attorneys share their inspiring stories about what they did to get to the top and what keeps them there. I’m Chris Dreyer, stay with us. But before Disruptive Advertising became one of the leading pay-per-click ad agencies in the country with over 150 employees pulling in more than 20 million in revenue. It was just Jacob. On his own. Consulting as a freelancer.

Jacob Baadsgaard

I actually thought my business would just be become a freelance consultant for web analytics. And that was actually my first stab at it. When I, I had a one-year non-compete and the business that I started after that was over, it was actually a, a company called Found ROI, horrible name. Um, and everyone kept asking me, what’s Found ROI? And, and I’d have to explain, Oh, well, I hope you get good data so we can make smart marketing decisions with that. But what I found is, people like the idea of data and like the buzzwords of big data and data-driven decisions and all of those things. But the reality is most people don’t have the bandwidth or expertise to get the right data. And then they generally lack the bandwidth or expertise to act on that data in a meaningful way. And so the easiest place for us to go and move the needle immediately was with PPC campaigns because we could track those so incredibly well and adapt and adjust those campaigns on the fly based on that data. And so that’s where I started to see, oh, data’s great. But where people are, businesses are really getting the value is us actually executing on what the data is telling us. And the, and the area that kind of just materialized was more on the, on the paid side where it was a little easier to track and be in control of that. And that’s, that’s kind of where it all started

Chris Dreyer

From a standpoint of being an ROI focused agency, those conversations of, hey, we’ve 10 X, your, your revenue – leave us a case study, or would you be willing to do a case study? Would you be willing to leave a testimonial or even to grow those accounts? You know, having that, that data, that data focused viewpoint. I imagine that that really helped in the, in the growth strategies too.

Jacob Baadsgaard

And we always love working with new companies, which is exciting and, and getting involved with some new businesses. Uh, it’s, it’s probably more fun to grow our existing customers. And we actually, in one year published like a hundred growth case studies of businesses that we help grow. And so absolutely that’s, that’s the fun part about it. And I’m a little bit of a control freak, and that’s what I love about the paid side is I can control it and report on it and point and point to it and say, look, this is, this is what we did.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. That was going to be my next question. Is, you’ve got this very recognizable brand. You’ve got a great marketing team, you know, it’s, I, I see you everywhere. Obviously I go to your site, I’m getting retargeted, I’m getting hit with your brand. So you’ve generated this, this brand equity. Have you considered now you launched with PPC CRO and you’ve started to expand your service offering – have you started to look kind of on the dark side and those, those SEO, those organic types of strategies, are you still just laser focused on PPC and ads and CRO?

Jacob Baadsgaard

At our core, who we are as an agency is we’re, we’re, we’re paid digital media. And so as we’ve expanded our service offering, it’s been to support who we are and what we’re best at, which is let’s get you good data and help you make great decisions with your media data and spend online. And then service offerings that we have started to expand into is some paid search and paid social advertising. And re-targeting and display has been what we’ve been doing for a long time. The areas that we’ve expanded into is, hey, no matter how good the traffic is that we’re pointing to you to your website – if your website just really sucks at converting that traffic, uh, we’re not going to get anywhere. And so we’ve actually built a strategy and a dev team that can actually help our clients test and update their website instead of five, out of a hundred, doing what we want them to do to 10 out of pocket, for example, and really improving the site experience. Uh, the other area that we launched was actually nurturing and getting beyond the initial sale through email and text, nurture to say, hey, you bought this now, or are you abandoned in the shopping cart? Or you filled out the lead form, but you never actually signed up. So we’ve actually introduced an email marketing component and SMS to that as well. But again, it helps us get more out of those, those dollars that we’re investing for our clients. Uh, that being said SEO and organic is something that I am such a big advocate of. And I know that we will be exponentially more successful with any of the clients that we work with. If they’re running a good content and SEO program because they just dovetail so nicely together. And that’s a big component of how I’ve grown disruptive, um, as a brand and as a company as well. And so I just see it as a very complimentary part to what we do. But not something that we’re looking to build in yet, because we just want to stay really focused on what we’re best at.

Chris Dreyer

I really applaud you there because it’s easy to get that shiny object syndrome. There’s always something new around the corner, whether it’s Tik TOK or Snapchat, you know, when it comes to marketing. And I really applaud you on that. So, you know, back to kind of the, the starting, you know, starting found, Found Roy, Found ROI and then going to Disruptive Advertising. So what was kind of the turning point that, that kind of took it to the next level? And obviously if you guys can hear, uh, the weed-eater started outside, so I apologize for that. So it was a kind of like the, to take it to the next level and grow?

Jacob Baadsgaard

There was a couple of pivotal moments. Uh, the one that I would probably highlight was how to move beyond founder based selling. Well, it’s one thing, uh, to grow a service based company. You know, if that’s a law firm, if that’s a, if that’s an agency, if that’s whatever and the partners and the owners are generally pretty good at selling themselves and getting some business, but then quickly grow to the point where it’s like, and now there’s just no more hours in the day. And if I’m selling it and also doing some of the work on it, then that just gets challenging. So kind of two pivotal steps that, that I’ve had to make early on was building the competency and the team to actually do the work, um, based on the strategy and proposals that we were sending out there and developing that skillset. And that allowed us to kind of go from a few people company to a 20 person company, because then I could still sell a lot, right. Um, but then, but then we kind of got to the point where it’s like, I can only sell so much, right? And what took quite a bit of time and a few failed attempts was actually building a sales team that could sell without me and moving past that founder based selling. And, and my first couple, a couple of attempts were someone that I could just hand it off to and they could take care of it, which didn’t work. Uh, when it finally worked was I just said, hey, I’m just going to work with someone for like a year, I’ll even close their deals for them and pay them the commission. But I’m really committed to getting them great at this and setting them up for success. And so it felt kind of like slowing down, but it actually sped things up. And now we have a really great sales team that does all of that and they prefer I don’t get involved at this point.

Chris Dreyer

That’s awesome. Yeah. So is, so did, do you know, breaking that down? Just a real quick question, because I think it’s very valuable for the audience was. You know, was it a, just an AE type model where you have that person work, the lead all the way through? Did, was it, uh, an SDR type of setup where there was a, a qualifier, then it goes to the AE, you know? What, what do you find works best for, for volume? For when you’re getting a lot of leads like that?

Jacob Baadsgaard

So, um, same way you eat an elephant – one bite at a time, right? So step one was, hey, there’s a lot of follow up and follow through that I’m not doing. Can you just help me make sure that that’s happening for all of our prospects? Um, step two is, Hey, that’s working pretty well, how do we get some more leads into the pipeline now and get them involved with that or investing more in marketing? And then kind of just iterating through that. Okay, great. Now that you’re doing a great job of kind of helping move these through, but I’m still closing the deal, let’s let you start closing the smaller ones. I’ll still close the larger ones. Okay, cool. Now you’re a good at the small ones. Let’s see how you are on the medium ones. Okay, great. And then we’re talking the course of years, right? And that’s one of the challenges that I ran into and that I see a lot of, uh, owners and founders run into is we’re always looking for that silver bullet, but the reality is they just needed a couple of great salespeople and just take the time to invest in them and to get there. And it’s not cheap, right? Because they need to make enough money to make it worth it for them. And I’m still doing some of their work for them and just kind of committed more to the long game there. And those were some of the steps that we took.

Chris Dreyer

Jacob has a clear focus on nurturing his teams to help them and his business thrive. I wanted to learn more about some of the initiatives. Jacob has implemented to help develop his staff and bolster his agency.

Jacob Baadsgaard

Lasting success in business, I think, it has to apply to life and it has to apply to business. And so I’m a big believer in that it has to be a win, win, win. The employee has to be winning. The client has to be winning and the company needs to be winning. And when all three of those are happening, that’s when the magic happens. Um, and that’s, and that’s where it can really align with that. When it comes to our employees, there’s really three things that we’re trying to help them be successful with. One of those is we want to just help them develop really, really good marketable marketing skills, right? Like we want them to be the best at the things that we do and just help them get really good at those technical aspects of it. Uh, the other part are more of the soft skills. How to manage expectations, how to develop business acumen and marketing acumen to say, you say, you want this, but what you really need, I think, is this, right? And really develop those soft skills. And so we have training that’s done by myself as well as a variety of people in the company to address those technical and soft skills, to just get them great at what they do. One of the other things, one of our mantras is we’re here to win at life in business together. And there’s a couple of just core life skills that we feel like translate really well into business success, as well as just overall living a fulfilled and happy life. And so we actually teach courses that are optional, um, at the company, but, and people have to show up at 7:00 AM and actually have to pay money to participate in these. And if they graduate, they get their money back in a bonus. But one of those is a personal development course that’s really focused on developing habits in our personal lives. Uh, that are, if you’ve ever read the miracle morning, those are the habits that we practice.

Chris Dreyer

Hal Elrod. Yep.

Jacob Baadsgaard

Yeah. Yeah. So waking up and fitting in things like, uh, visualization and meditation and reading and exercise and all of these things that we actually practice for months together. Uh, we read books together and we really focus on building great habits and we base a lot of those habits on the principles found in Atomic Habits, is the book that’s kind of more of the operating system.

Chris Dreyer

It’s another… Yeah, I’ve read that one too. It’s a great book.

Jacob Baadsgaard

And then we also have a finance course where they come in and they learn the basics of how to put together a budget. Uh, how to live within their means how to save, how to, how to do all of those things. And then they actually put together a budget and report back to my CFO once a month on how they executed their budget for the month. And they do that for six months. And if they graduate, they get up to a thousand bucks for every year they’ve worked at Disruptive towards their financial goals.

Chris Dreyer

Wow. Wow.

Jacob Baadsgaard

And, um, so, and then we’re, we’re doing a health one where we actually have a coach that comes and trains people on nutrition and exercise and form and, you know, because when we’re physically and mentally and spiritually and all those things in a good spot. Man, we just perform better at work in life. And so those are the things that we’re really focused on as a company to just win at life and business together.

Chris Dreyer

That’s incredible, Jake. And the first thing I can tell you is I’ve got a vision board, literally an arms reach from Elrod’s miracle morning. One of the things I’ve noticed too, just, you know, so we’ve known each other. We’ve been buddies for a while now. And one of the things I’ve noticed is when you have to teach something and kind of embody these ideals and now you’re passing on and you’re, you’re a leader for your team. It’s, I’ve seen, I’m seeing you do, uh, you did a marathon. I’m seeing, I’m seeing all these things that are occurring with you too. You know, how has that impacted you? You know, and in terms of teaching these other individuals and how has that impacted yourself?

Jacob Baadsgaard

Yeah, a lot of, a lot of the things that we focus on in these courses and at work directly come from the challenges that I’ve had to overcome in my life and then trying to kind of pay it forward. So I’ve worked with all sorts of therapists as it relates to marriage counseling, addiction, recovery, um, self-improvement business coaching. And I’ve really had some, I’m just, I’m a big believer in that stuff. And I used to worry that needing that type of help meant something was wrong with me or being open about those types of things. People might judge me. And now I’m just realizing. I wish I had started that stuff sooner. Cause I had like a decade of hardship that I didn’t really need to have in my life. Uh, when it, when it came to those things. And so a lot of what’s built into these programs stems from that. And it also creates an incredible accountability source for me to take my performance to the next level, because now I have 20, 30 people in the class that I have to show up and report on how I did in these areas.

Chris Dreyer

Right.

Jacob Baadsgaard

And now that I’ve done that for three years, just a little bit by a little bit, those things have compounded and, and physically I’m in the best shape of my life. Mentally I feel like I’m way more stable. I think as entrepreneurs – I think we generally have a lot more highs and lows, and it’s really helped me to find some more stability and self-worth and those things. So that’s, that’s kinda what it’s done for me. It’s been a game changer.

Chris Dreyer

That’s amazing. And I can imagine too, when you’re doing the finances, there’s a lot of vulnerability there. So you say you kind of bond with your team and those, even those EQ and empathy type skills kind of even come naturally, probably even when you’re looking at your financials, like probably cross over in some degree. As Disruptive Advertising has grown, Jacob’s high value activities had to evolve along with it, and sometimes working out what your role should be as your firm or company expands can be challenging. So I wanted to find out how Jacob discovered where he could provide the most value to his company and give anyone listening some direction on how they can find out what their high value activities might be as well.

Jacob Baadsgaard

I’m gonna back pedal just a little bit and then I’ll answer that question. Sometimes you just don’t know until you feel something and so Disruptive had enough success. I mean, I grew up in a family of 10 kids. We did not have money. Um, and, and when you have these lofty goals to say, man, if I ever achieved this, I’d just financially and all that, just make my life easy. And then to, to hit and far surpassed those goals by a long shot and then to realize, oh, this didn’t really, he solve my problems. In fact, it made my life more complicated. And now I kind of have more things to worry about. And so those were some of the things that like were interesting to feel along the way as we had certain levels of success with the company. Um, what I, what I realized. Is that what I can bring that I feel like, uh, uniquely to Disruptive is a vision for who people can become that sometimes they don’t even have for themselves. And when I can, when I can come to the table and say, here is how we’re going to win at life together personally, professionally and financially, and we are in this fight together – and here is not only who you’re capable of becoming, but who you already are and we’re just going to start tapping into that together – and it’s going to be like, hell a vulnerable and challenging and mega rewarding at the same time. And bringing that vision of what could be, and really helping people tap in and resonate with that – I feel like that’s really what, what makes the difference at this point. And it’s, it really aligns with making it really meaningful for me, I’m not looking to build this, to grow it and sell it and get away from it. It really aligns with, I want to create an environment of growth for myself, for those that I have a relationship with. And the company is, is the avenue in which I can accomplish that goal. And, and helping people see that they’re capable of becoming more than maybe give themselves credit for. I feel like is really the difference maker that I can bring to Disruptive. And getting more and more comfortable with the fact of, and sometimes that might mean that staying at Disruptive forever, isn’t what they need for their growth and development. And, but I’m sure going to try my hardest to make sure that it is. Right.

Chris Dreyer

And that’s very powerful because people see, you know, what you’re committing to them and in terms of their growth and just having that impact on their culture and retention just builds this, this tremendous bond. So that’s, that’s just incredibly powerful. Yeah, and Jake we’ve been talking about a lot of things. We talk about focus, you know, staying with what you do best. You talk about, you know, developing your people, you know, um, marketing, we’ve talked about, you know, some great books and mentorship. One final question here, what questions or stories have we not talked about that you feel would be important?

Jacob Baadsgaard

I think the story that probably had the biggest impact on me personally, and professionally was actually going through marriage counseling. And it’s kind of funny because sometimes we don’t connect the dots on, on how those things tie together. But I think we’re all searching for meaning and, and desperately looking for love and belonging and that we’re enough. And, uh, the one thing that I would share is that there is no level of professional success that will ever fill that cup and to be sitting in, and what I realized is that I had used my professional success as a tool to, um, minimize and diminish the value of my, of my partner with my wife because of how I felt about myself, and then I used it as a tool to say, clearly, I’m not the problem, because look how well the company is doing. Clearly our issues are because of you. Um, and to have a marriage counselor who was also the owner of his practice – cause we tried a couple and I didn’t like it’s, it’s worth trying a couple that finally just helped me understand that I did not view and treat my wife as a partner and as an equal is probably what really set me on a very different course with what I’m doing with the company. And those are the things that, and now she’s okay actually part of our financial review, once a month with our CFO, we go and have a business lunch together once a month. She’s very involved in and understands what’s going on. And we are both part of the problem. And we were both part of the solution. And I would just say, that’s the one thing that, uh, I would highlight it’s worth digging in a little bit there. And so often the areas that we’re having success in our lives are the things that come easy to us that we use as tools to justify not doing the things that are hard for us.

Chris Dreyer

Jacob raises some great points. It’s all well and good building up a successful business or law firm, but can only fulfill you so much. So you need to make sure you’re nurturing your personal life and relationships too – even if it does require putting a little extra effort into it. You’ve been listening to The Rankings Podcast. I’m Chris Dreyer, a huge thank you to today’s guest, Jacob Baadsgaard for joining us. You can find all of the links from today’s conversation in the show notes, and we want to hear from you. What are some life lessons you brought to your law firm? Drop us a review and share your thoughts. Thanks for joining us. We’ll see you next time.

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