Takeaways from Greg Elfrink on the Zack Franklin Show
Greg Elfrink is the CMO of Empire Flippers, one of my favorite companies to buy or sell a business with. Greg just came on the Zack Franklin show podcast and dropped some crazy knowledge about content marketing, selling your business, how to take advantage of conferences and more.
Here are the show notes:
How to kill it at conferences:
"All the real business at a conference happens after 3am"
Greg Elfrink's Superhero Origin Story
My super hero origins. So, I was originally a oilfield roughneck up in Alaska. And yeah, we would be drilling for oil covered in chemicals wearing my Darth Vader rubber suit. Because the chemicals that go on your skin, they would literally like eat through your flesh it's very fun. So I hated it. I did not like it at all. It was like cold all the time, like negative 50, negative 60. I've had to fight like rabid foxes before. Like with the squeegee. I've saved my welder from a polar bear almost eating them like in the middle of the night. So not the life for me.
So I ended up teaching myself internet marketing. I self taught myself I never went to college or anything like that. And I've been scammed a million times. By all the course gurus of course, like any good marketer is when they first started out. The transition to SEO and content marketing, content was always my thing. So I really got my start freelance writing, I just undercut everyone.
I'd be working like my 12-18 hour shift in the oil field. And then I'd go to this one corner of the of the camp, where it was like this movie watching room, I'd sit in that corner to start typing for one cent per word for all these SEO agencies, because that corner had the best Wi Fi in the Arctic Circle.
I kind of say like nihilism saved my life because like, I always had these dreams of grandeur. Like, I am going to make something big, I'm gonna make this huge affiliate website or Big E commerce or whatever, right? I was gonna do it real big, but I never had any time to actually do it, because I was always on an oil rig.
So I eventually gave up like, ah, you know, people, you know, don't get to play in the NBA just because they like basketball, right? And I love marketing like is a passion of mine. So that nihilistic kind of like trait is what led me to writing at one cent per word where I was like, Well, I know I can write really fast, hate writing content. That's what I did. I built up this huge portfolio.
Eventually, I started ghost writing for some of the biggest SEO influencers back then, like, we have a client now who has sold I think, a few million dollars worth of businesses with us. And like, a lot of his sites were written by me and he didn't even know that till later on.
I saw that E F. was looking for a Content Marketing Pro. It was like an email they sent out and I been obsessed with the industry for a year. So I already knew who EF was like I knew them back when we were Adsense flippers, like way back in the day, like warrior forum days. And so I like, I thought to myself, like, here's a job I'm never going to get. Let me throw my hat in the ring because I had tried to get marketing jobs before. But because I have no college background at all, they would use just like that whatever get out of here, like what are you talking about?
So to my shock, I got the interview. And then I thought like, Man, I did a terrible job of that interview. Then I got the second interview, which really surprised me because I never had made it that far before. And yeah, that went well. And the next thing I knew, my boss was our Justin, the co founder of EF he was telling me like, all right, buy a ticket to Vietnam. That's where we're at come to us and we'll start training
Thoughts on Podcasts
if anyone's thinking of starting a podcast, I recommend you don't, unless you have an actual traffic channel that's built up because podcasts are a terrible traffic channel. But they're fantastic for nurturing people and building loyalty because like if you ask yourself how many blogs are you reading? Are you going to read it this year? It's probably going to be like hundreds right, like how many YouTube videos are going to watch, same thing. If you ask that for podcasts like you probably like five or six of them though, your go to that you're always listening to so there's loyalty that podcasts have that's not really in any other medium. And since selling a business is high emotional stakes right like they need to trust you that is the most important factor of everything. So it works really well for us.
My view is you give them so much value. Like, you could come read EF, like read all the EF blog posts and you would be able to sell your business without us most likely and probably be okay. But because you follow and you read all that content you're like, Wow, this is amazing. This sounds like a ton of work. Can you guys do it for me? Just like content marketing wanna water right like, here's the keys to the castle and then they're like I can you open the door for me still? Sure, no problem right
Answering the question behind the question
Also, the question that they're asking, ask yourself what the real question is. So like, if someone says something like, Oh, can I make money in Amazon FBA? That's not what they're really asking. They're asking am I skilled enough, like, how do I do it? It's not just the FBA portion. They're what they're like, there's all these doubts mixed into that, right? Their own imposter syndrome. So your if your answer can like, answer the deeper question, your content goes way, way better. So that's all part of like the principles of what we do with my content team.
Drawing Inspiration from other fields:
I'm a big believer that the best insights come when you look at two completely unrelated things, and ask yourself, what is the bridge between these two things?
So an example, copywriting is sales copy, but I'm a big fan of psychology, which obviously is related to copywriting, but I read like a whole thing about how beliefs are formed, like why do we form habits? Why do we form religious ideas or political ideas? Like, why do people do this, right? So I read this book called A believing brain called by Michael Shermer. He's like a Stanford psychologist. And everything he talks about in there is so applicable to business and to marketing.
He talks about core beliefs, secondary beliefs, and tertiary beliefs and tertiary beliefs are the ones that are the most easily changed because you have the least committed to the belief. So marketers and salespeople really play in that tertiary and secondary, and if you change enough of those, you change the core, right? So like, this is all really powerful stuff. When you combine it through the copywriting lense and storytelling, same thing.
Novelists like Brandon Sanderson, he just did like, like $30 million on a Kickstarter recently. So he's crushing it as a fantasy author. But you look at that these are like, no, they would never viewed themselves in this way. Because a lot of writers are like kind of anti business or they just don't understand business. But Brandon Sanderson, he's different. He understands business and these novelists are like some of the best copywriters in the world. Like think about it. Like, I have a 1000 page Book of made up people that I care about what a crazy concept is this, like, this guy is so good, he made me believe in a thing I know is a lie. But they feel so real. To me, that is a powerful copywriting thing.
So I've taken courses on how to write novels I write all those were fun to buy, I've taken like, the strategies like one is called LOCK to build like a really good structure, and I applied it to EF content, and it's awesome like that. So the LOCK system, I'm rambling here, but I get really excited about this stuff. The LOCK system, it stands for lead objective conflict and knockout. So the lead is your main character in the novel. The objectives are what are they trying to do. Conflict is what's stopping them from hitting the objective and Knockout is knockout punch, like how do they overcome to hit the objective right like usually in a story is like a magical item or character development whatever right? But you apply that same lens to business and it makes so much sense in the case of business, the lead is your customer right?
Who is your customer? What are they trying to achieve their objective? What is stopping them from achieving that objective? And what can they use as their knockout punch to like overcome the conflict and the copywriting lens the knockout punch is you your product or service right? But you as the company are always a secondary character in the story. You are not the protagonist of the story they are and so that just shifts everything to thinking about them and that's a very common thing in copywriting to say but very very often never practice they're always like all my benefits were the best cutting edge whatever like no one cares, talk about their story not yours.
Marketing to non competitive niches
I'm a big fan of looking at other industries to figure out to be better at my industry.
I was talking to this guy and entrepreneur it was ran several big b2c companies, mostly ecommerce and you know, me at EF basically, I'm in the make money online niche, right like a subset of that niche, which is like the most difficult niche and I'm marketing to actual successful entrepreneurs so they're even more jaded than normal marketing right? So it's like a very difficult niche right and then I talked to someone like my friend who's quite successful about like, what he's doing for marketing like oh my god, that seems so simple like he's using like techniques that I use, like years ago that don't work. For me. I was just like that. Like I liked that strategy like go looking at the competitive niches, what are they doing and how do I bring that over to my more sleepy industry and you'll rock it, you'll crush it.
Are the good times over for the aggregators? Is it too late to sell?
I think we're at the end of the season of the seller, like the big multiples that a lot of sellers are getting, like I'm not quite like 100% certain, but we're definitely near the tail end of that. So that's been interesting to see, you know, like, a lot of the aggregators are not buying nearly as much, they're a lot more strict with what they are buying versus what they were buying last year. So that's been intriguing to see. But not I wouldn't say that's necessarily like new to me. Because I kind of knew that would probably happen because a lot of these aggregators I talked to, they're very good at m&a, like extremely good, but they're very not so good at running businesses like that running the actual like day to day operations. So it's kind of something I expected. I was surprised how fast it came though. It's just like this whirlwind of it happening
if I haven't sold yet, but there's still hope, you know, like, isn't all doom and gloom, there's plenty of aggregators, like you just said that just raise money, they haven't even made their first acquisition yet. Those aggregators are going to be coming in hot, and as long as you focus on like building a quality business, not like something that's like scammy or short term, like, you're gonna be alright, when you do exit your business. So I want to be too afraid of that, like, yeah, it might take you longer to find the right buyer now than it did before. But you still have an asset that people that people will highly desire at the end of the day.
When you should approach a business broker?
That's a good question, I think you should approach as soon as possible. So even if you're like 24 months out from selling, like, you're two years away from thinking about selling, you should still just have a conversation. I mean, it's like a 20-30 minute conversation, unless you have a very complex business, that just gives you a roadmap, you know, milestones to hit all that kind of stuff.
The reason why I suggest as long as possible, like realistically for most people is like 12 months The reason why is because the closer you get to selling, like the date of like being on the marketplace, or if you're going private, you have less and less ability to change anything. And really you shouldn't change anything like the closer you get to it should be just maintaining the status quo, because a lot of business valuation minus SAAS, which is different BS, but a lot of business valuations are based on risk, like how risky is the business, the less risky, the better valuation you're going to usually get.
The longer timeframe gives you a lot more time to steer the ship towards a bigger multiples. So that's why I say suggest as long as possible, but really, it depends on your goals. Like what you're trying to do, like if you want to sell fast. hit us up now. Better start today, for sure. If you're trying to get the maximum exit still start today, just know that your timeline might be further out. And that's okay because it gives you enough time to make those adjustments
Best valuations and price ranges to sell at
Exits are typically all cash and very fast.
**$1,000,000+ Exit, **
Working with more private equity, aggregators, or high net worth individuals.
This is the "No Man's Zone" too big for a lot of bootstrapped entrepreneurs, and too small for the private equity guys.
Time warp effect of selling or buying a business
The time thing is why I recommend people to sell and buy businesses actually. Because like, so if you sell that business, you get that three, four years or whatever, then you buy another business, you might initially think like, Well, I'm just buying someone else's three to four years, I'm going like starting at zero, but you're not. Because when you start a business from scratch, you're at $0, right versus you buy a business is already making money. It's already a proven market fit, you already have all this data, you can scale it really quickly because of those two qualifiers and the secret with the asset flywheel thing I talked about if you want to go really really fast, is you can buy a business and literally sell that same business the next day, you can't start a business and sell that business the next day. Like we had a guy he had a it was a I think was like $105,000 affiliate site something small like that. And he bought it from us and he was like, hey, that competition seemed really fierce. Or there's still a lot of buyers interested in this and like yeah, there's tons so like well, I'll sell to one right now for 115k like okay, well we'll ask so we asked our buyers and he got someone to pay 115k So like this guy literally owned the business for like a half hour like we did start transferring the business to him yet when he like put this out like I do not recommend that strategy by the way that very very risky I've never seen that happen again. But that's something you just could not do with a business you start from scratch right like that's literally impossible
How to get in touch with Greg Elfrink
Reach out to Greg through my Empire Flippers link - www.empireflippers.com/zack, or tag him anytime in the Seller.Deals Facebook group