Sharing Value with Sowa Marketing Agency's Aidan Sowa

September 29, 2021 | Episode 11

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Sharing Value with Sowa Marketing Agency's Aidan Sowa

September 29, 2021 | Episode 11

Sharing value might just seem like one of the latest business and marketing buzzwords, but Eric Grundhoefer is talking with Aiden Sowa about how important sharing value really is. This is way more than just a buzzword or the latest in marketing and PR jargon, Aidan will show you why sharing value is really one of the best ways forward for businesses and especially entrepreneurs. 

His business, Sowa Agency, is all about pushing entrepreneurs, which means he’s uniquely positioned to help you if you’re working on building a small business. After all, marking for a big business is very different from marketing for a bigger business. 

Aidan is pretty open with Eric about the challenges facing the marking business right now, and how COVID-19 forced his business to change. But, unlike a lot of businesses that struggled to get through the pandemic or found themselves looking for a new business model that could thrive in a new business market, Sowa Agency was able to transition to a business that’s more important and beneficial than ever. 

Of course, Aidan will admit that there is a little bit of luck involved in building a business and building authority as a business owner. But there’s also a trick, share real value and pitch to Forbes, or at least, that was part of the formula Aidan used. 

Like always, Eric will ask about Aidan’s Batman Story. Aidan’s background might seem interesting for a marketing agency, but it really does help inform how he was able to build such a successful business in his first business ownership. 

Transcription

Eric: All right. We are back with Becoming Legends. I’m your host Eric Grundhoefer. Today with me I have Aidan Sowa. Aidan, did I get that right? 

Aidan: Sowa, but yeah.

Eric: Sowa. I am sorry. I don’t know why I’m struggling with the last name. I have the worst last name ever to pronounce and people have been butchered it my entire life. So, I just want to make sure I’m getting it. I apologize. You can go to SowaAgency.com or SowaAgency.co to reach Aidan. Aidan, thank you so much for being here. Please tell everyone listening, who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

Aidan: Yeah. So, my name is Aiden Sowa and I’m the CEO and founder of Sowa Marketing Agency. Essentially, what we do is we just specialize in helping entrepreneurs get featured into like major media outlets like Yahoo, Forbes, Inc guaranteed. 

Eric: I love it. I absolutely love that. When did you start?

Aidan: Yeah. So, I’ve been working on this for a while now. I originally started out with the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge, learned a bit about digital marketing there such as MailChimp, Twitter, like that type of basic marketing, a little bit about lead gen. But I eventually kind of transitioned more towards like the branding side.

Eric: Okay. That’s fantastic. And then what led you to that sort of transition? What was like oh, I’m going to go over there as opposed to just the MailChimp, Twitter kind of stuff?

Aidan: Yeah. I would say it’s basically I was more of like a lead gen type of like company until COVID. COVID changed everything because we were all of a sudden unable to do any sort of networking events, unable to meet people in-person, and people was super skeptical at that time — I think they still are. Like, lead generation is becoming more and more difficult. Then I started to realize I need to be able to find a way to essentially reach my clients in a new way that they’re excited about, and that’s how I came across branding. A lot of people were not used to the idea of getting into Forbes or getting into Yahoo so that excited them a lot and we were able to start a new conversation [inaudible 00:02:28]

Eric: That’s fantastic. So, we do very similar things which is great. The one thing I don’t have a ton of experience with is getting people in those publications that you had mentioned. So, when you start, first of all, when did you create all of this, when did all this start for you?

Aidan: Yeah. It was like around — I mean, I literally start learning about digital marketing around two years ago. 

Eric: Two years ago Okay. 

Aidan: It’s not too long but yeah, I definitely studied a lot during this time.

Eric: Yeah, that’s great. And then so when you do this, how do you build these relationships with these publications to get these people featured in there, if you don’t mind sharing that.

Aidan: Yeah. I’m always happy to share value in that regard. So, essentially, it’s really a long process. Reaching out to Forbes, you have to kind of email them directly. I actually got into Forbes. I originally just kind of thought to myself, oh, let’s just try reaching out the Forbes, and I got really lucky within my third email to [inaudible 00:03:27] Forbes is actually featured. So, you don’t have to be — contrary to what a lot of people think, you don’t have to be like some legendary person like Bill Gates or something to get into Forbes. Anyone who can share value again to Forbes as long as it makes sense. 

So, I was like this type of value actually makes sense with an article, and it really does make sense. So, you just have to pitch yourself in a way. One thing which I really hate is some people do a lot of mass pitching, where they’re essentially sending out the same email just substituting a few words to a thousand different people. And a lot of different people who write for Forbes just hate that and they delete those emails in seconds.

Eric: Oh, my gosh. And did you learn that the hard way or did you just kind of know?

Aidan: I never did that. I kind of just read about it and I was like, I am never going to do that. Because I talked to a bunch of contributors and they’re like, yeah, I always delete those emails. I never even pay attention. If you at least take the effort of reading about the contributor, what they’re doing, and kind of tailor the pitch around that, much more likely to get a response than if you were just to like copy and paste a bunch of emails.

Eric: That’s fantastic. I always like to ask everyone this. Everyone likes a good origin story, right? Everyone wants to know how Bruce Wayne became Batman. I always say that. So, how did you get to here? How did two years ago — You know, what led up to the two year ago point where you’re like, I’m starting this agency. This is what’s going to happen. So, where did you start? Like, where did your beginning start? Is this your first business?

Aidan: It is my first business. Yes, definitely. I mean, prior, I guess I spent a lot of time in the cryptocurrency space doing [inaudible 00:05:04] But that was completely unrelated. And then eventually, the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge is just like the accidental thing. I was just looking for an internship at the time. At the time I was studying international relations, completely unrelated to that, and I just needed to get an internship. So, that just happened to be that. And I just learned a lot about digital marketing there. And I didn’t really even start my agency until like around a year and a half ago. So, that’s when that all started. 

And the reason why I started it is because I was looking around at a lot of the businesses around me and they were struggling. And I was like, why are they struggling? And then I realized maybe what they’re really missing is a good marketing system, using out of date tactics, which don’t really work nowadays. So, what if I could actually help some of these businesses. And that’s how I kind of started my business.

Eric: That’s really cool, man. Actually, that reminds me of kind of exactly why I started mine. Like, I was working for these big companies, these marketing companies and they were saying they were doing all these things with these companies with these big budgets. They’re not really doing all these things. Like, they’re just talking a lot and making sure they’re getting good reporting and stuff like that, so it just appears that they’re doing a lot. And I was like this is so not how I want to be. You know what I mean? Like this is like anti everything that I think is right. So, I literally, I worked for two of them and they were like work for one, then work for their competitor. And then I was like I’m going out on my own. There’s no way I could absolutely do this anymore. 

And that’s why I have a very boutique-style agency where it’s almost like a law firm, where I’m the lawyer and I have all my paralegals that I dish out to that are helping me with the work and then I’m the one that’s facing the client though and taking out on those cases and helping them like that. Is that similar to how you run yours? Or are you like trying to — because there’s a lot of different ways to do it. I don’t think — People hear agency and they think it’s always the same thing but it’s not. So, I’m curious to see, are you going to try to get massive, like hundreds and hundreds of employees, or are you going to try to stay super niche? Like, what’s your goals?

Aidan: Yeah, I definitely want to grow really big. My goal is ultimately to build a billion dollar company. And obviously, not in a year but over time, I want to be able to build my agency to that level where I have like hundreds of employees. I mean, to be able to get to that next level, I would say really requires a lot of systems in place to be able to do that. So, you have to kind of create a bureaucracy and stuff like that. I haven’t gotten quite to that level at Sowa at like the multiple six-figure range. We’re not even at seven figures. That’s my next goal.

Eric: Great, man. No, that’s fantastic. And then so goal’s to get bigger and bigger and bigger. Is this a stepping stone to anything? What’s your — The show’s called Becoming Legends, right? So, my thing is I want to see what everyone’s big dreams and aspirations are. Money is great. Billion dollars, that sounds great. That’s my goal too. Like, I want to get there. I’m hoping that eventually we do this, maybe 10 years from now we have the same exact show and then both of us are — we finally reached the $1 billion mark and we can celebrate. And that would be great because I truly believe that I will be there someday. Like, there’s not a doubt in my mind. But what’s the legacy that you want to leave behind and create to get there? Is that even a thing that you’re worried about? But if you want to shed a little light on that, that’d be great.

Aidan: Yeah. So, in regards to an actual legacy, I want to be known as the branding type of company. That’s what we’re mostly focused on, establishing authority. That’s what the company is going to be known for. And we already are starting to build up a bit of a reputation. I get messages sometimes from people and they’re like, oh, wow, I always saw you on LinkedIn, and we’ve never even talked to people. So, building up that reputation over time, getting featured in major media outlets. We don’t just tell our clients like, oh, it’d be great for you to get to Forbes. We’re constantly doing [inaudible 00:09:03] for ourselves, getting ourselves featured in the media to be able to build that exact traffic.

Eric: That’s amazing. So, you want to be the go getters for your clients. You want to be out there, you want to build a name for yourself that you can get it done for the client, really, essentially is it?

Aidan: Correct. [crosstalk] Yeah. And that’s the reason why I’m always getting featured into different media outlets, getting new connections like a podcast, like entrepreneur [inaudible 00:09:30] We’ve recently talked to Jordan Belfort, and a few other like podcasters. So, there’s a lot of different opportunities out there.

Eric: That’s sick. Like, literally, you talked to him specifically? That’s awesome, man. How was it?

Aidan: It was a good experience [inaudible 00:09:45] and he was like, if you want to bring on a couple of guests, that’s definitely cool and I was like, all right.

Eric: That’s crazy man. What did you guys talk about? Like, just making money like?

Aidan: Yeah, just like podcasts, sales and stuff of that nature. And it was just like an amazing opportunity. And throughout, like, I feel like just one person leads to another person. It’s all about building a network. We’ve set up like so many different connections over time like David Meltzer. I don’t know if you’re familiar with him. Bradley, a bunch of different podcasters in that space.

Eric: That’s great, man. That’s so great. That’s fantastic. And then what? So, you have these connections with them for just to put like so you get a client and they sign up for your podcast service and stuff like that and then you just push them there over. So, now you have like 10 people that are way on another level than I am doing podcasts and you’re sending them all over there. That’s fantastic, man. That is so crazy. Jordan freaking Belfort, dude. Like, that’s wild. How do you not smile when you name-dropped that? Like, that’s amazing, man. That is so cool.

Aidan: Yeah, it was a really unique connection. I wasn’t even trying to seek that out actively.

Eric: That’s crazy, man. What a story. That’s so insane. So, I love your website, man. Let’s do this then. Let’s pivot. So, that’s a little bit of background, more about you, what your aspirations are, and things like that. Let’s pivot and go tactical. What’s something that some clients, for people that are listening that are entrepreneurs, that are on the same level as you and I, whether they’re just starting out, or maybe like yourself, or their, they’ve been doing this for seven-eight years, like I have. What’s some tactical advice you can give them about either branding, or marketing, or etc? Maybe it’s stuff that they can do for themselves. I’m a big fan of providing as much value even if it means putting yourself out of business. Like, you want to know the secret sauce? Here it is, like, that’s how I am. Go ahead and do it. So, if that’s how you feel too, like, lay it all out there. Let them know this is exactly what I would do if I were you. And just take it and run with it or call us if you need help, type of thing.

Aidan: Yeah. So, I would say the most important thing when for someone, even if they’re eight years in business, or if they’re just starting a business, most important thing when getting started is outreach. So, reaching out to as many customers as possible. I always find that the most important thing, people get distracted a bit with websites, they want fancy logos, all of the other stuff. But I was reading a book recently. It’s a really great book. It’s called Ready, Fire, Aim from zero to like 50 million, I believe, or maybe it’s 100 million, forget the exact title of the book. But anyway, basically what goes over is like once you get to like that first level, you have to really just focus on outreach. That’s the most important thing is reaching out to as many people as possible. You don’t have to have a perfect product, or a perfect service. I like to think of it as like, in order for you to be able to really provide the highest quality service to your clients, you need to just walk with as many people, figure out their needs and improve over time. 

So, many people just focus on just being like paralyzed, thinking, oh, I have to get the perfect service. And they’re just like, really, they don’t do that. It’s just a question of just reaching out to as many people as possible. And also, I would say setting a goal is very crucial. Because if you just go in all at it and stuff like that, you have no goals in mind, that’s probably not going to last. What really changed within like the first — when I went from not being even doing six figures to doing multiple six figures within like just a couple of months, the biggest changes I did was just a mindset thing. So, being able to put in like your daily, your monthly, yearly, 10-year goals and breaking it down, so you know exactly what you need to do to reach those goals.

Eric: Absolutely, man. That’s fantastic. I know, you had mentioned earlier, you mentioned processes. So, you seem like a processes type of guy, because it was like one of the first things that you jumped in on. So, if you could elaborate on that for — Like, I know exactly what you mean when you say that, but maybe some others out there don’t. Maybe you’ll trigger something that can help them get their processes behind the scenes better, which is going to increase workflow, productivity, sales, as you know, everything. So, please, if you could hint on that a little bit for them. That’d be great.

Aidan: Yeah. So, essentially what we do, once we started to figure out what works, what I do is I create videos in Google Drive. So, like, this is exactly what you need to do for Instagram outreach, this is what you need to do for email outreach, and just writing down all those different processes, be it like a Google Docs, or it’s in the forms videos. That’s how we really create systems. So, that way someone could just like without knowing anything about a company could just come in and just inherit the process. And that’s really great if you’re looking to sell at some point. Because some people forget when they’re starting an agency, it’s a real business, which means it can be sold someday. So, that’s what we really focus on that like if we want to ever sell the business, then it’s actually worth something. Because if it’s just centered around you, essentially it’s worth nothing.

Eric: Yeah, exactly. I actually just spoke — That’s crazy you say that. I just spoke with someone — Shoot, I forgot her name. She was just on the podcast a week or two ago. But she deals in all of that stuff. And she was just telling me that she had a woman call her, she helps companies sell their company when they’re ready. Or get it ready to sell it eventually, and make sure that you’re very aware of everything you need to sell that. So, what she said was a woman called, her husband died. He owned a construction company for like 30 years. He was a very successful man, they were millionaires. And she wanted to sell it to just be done with it and get some money and set herself up. 

So, she went there, and she was like, how do I sell this? And she goes all right, let’s figure this out. Like, where’s the processes? How do we do this? Everything was in the guy’s head, they weren’t able to sell the company at all, because it was nothing because there was no processes set up. So, you’re exactly right, when you say that, like the process is everything. The process does make the company. The process allows you to sell it someday, if that’s what you want to do. Or you should, in my opinion, it sounds like you already know all this stuff that’s going on. Like, I love that you’re ahead of the game like that, because you have to just treat it as if you’re going to sell it someday. And then that way, it’ll always be good. You know what I mean? So, that’s absolutely — [crosstalk] So, that’s — wow. Is that something that you taught yourself? Did you just hear that? [crosstalk] No?

Aidan: I have a lot of different mentors. I like to read a lot of books. So, I would say that’s why a lot of people go into business. It’s really good to read books. I think, also, one of the reasons why I got to the level of where I am, is I’m surrounded by different people who are already doing exactly what I want to be doing in life. So, I talk to people who are like seven-figure entrepreneurs, going to an event in a couple of weeks to meet up with someone who’s supposedly like a nine-figure entrepreneur. So, they’re living the type of life which I want to be living. So, when I’m only doing, let’s just say at the time of doing like six figures, they’re like, why are you not doing multiple six figures? So, they’re kind of pushing me to get to that next level. That’s one of the great things I think a lot of entrepreneurs should do/ Because when you’re first getting started out, I feel like entrepreneurship is pretty lonely in a way. So, being able to build that network around yourself other than just potential business contacts is incredibly valuable to getting to that next level.

Eric: I love it. I absolutely love it. I want to leave my audience with that because I feel like that was the most important tidbit of this entire thing. Network, network, network. This has absolutely been amazing. I’m sure everyone got a ton out of this. Aidan, thank you so much for being here. Guys, for everyone that’s listening, you can go to SowaAgency.co. Aidan, you’ve been absolutely amazing. I appreciate it. Thank you so much for being here today.

Aidan: Yeah, it was good to be on.

Eric: Awesome. Fantastic. Thank you. See you.

Aidan: Yeah, no problem.

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