On Tuesday, February 9th, Team Elevate was fortunate enough to speak with Eric Baum, the CEO of Bluleadz, the Tampa-based digital marketing and inbound lead generation agency, discussing some of the adversity he overcame on his journey to founding Bluleadz. Interviewed by Elevate CEO Aakash Patel in a fireside chat format with a Q&A portion at the conclusion, Eric presented at Tampa’s famous Centre Club to kick off their annual Networking Week. Bluleadz specializes in driving traffic to your website, turning that traffic into qualified leads, and closing those leads into customers. They are excellent at generating organic traffic to a business’ website and then turning that into business. They also work with customer service representatives to increase their sales and identify cross-selling opportunities as well.
Eric started by telling the audience about owning six businesses over the last thirty years. But in addition to him owning multiple businesses, he went on to say, “I’ve also learned a few things from larger companies that I worked at along the way. One of my first jobs was working at Worldcom doing sales. While at Worldcom, I was able to find a niche market and capitalize on that. It was an extremely difficult sales process, where I was going door to door to sell long distance telephone service sales. I identified that our long distance rates were hyper-competitive in Greece, so I then targeted the Greek population in Tarpon Springs. Most of the business owners in that area were Greek and were making long distance calls to their relatives in Greece from their business. I went on to sign up almost all the Greek businesses in Tarpon Springs. This taught me finding the right niche really matters. Honing in on the right target market was something that was foundational for Bluleadz.”
Eric went on to discuss another important lesson he learned while he was a financial advisor for American Express: Passion in your career drives sales. “I learned that selling clients in conference rooms helped me understand the sales process and most importantly that you need to believe in what you’re selling. Conviction creates success within a sales process. Within the well-defined sales process at American Express, I learned I needed to know my metrics and that sales coaching was there to support me. Once someone stepped into our conference room, I believed in the product we were selling and truly believed that I could help people, which made all the difference.”
The conversation then turned from Eric’s lessons learned working at other companies to the lessons he learned as a CEO with past businesses. He told the audience about his experience owning a manufacturing company called Permaliner. He talked about how his business partnership became toxic due to a difference in core values. “This difference in values created a schism in the business and created a tension throughout the entire organization. This taught me that core values are crucial to a company’s success, and the core values being different ended up with a dissolution of the partnership.”
Eric segued from the breakup of Permaliner to his next lesson he learned during a time not dissimilar to our current economic climate — 2007 leading up to the recession. His time as a CEO during the 2008 recession taught him that “Failure is an option.” After the breakup of Permaliner, Eric ended up with two Mr. Rooter plumbing companies that were successful heading into 2007. “I had 25 trucks on the road in 2008, and almost no one was spending money once the recession hit. Poor choices were made out of fear of survival during the recession.” After reflecting years later on those decisions, Eric evaluated that those failures taught him to overcome adversity. Those difficulties ultimately lead to the creation of Bluleadz.
“I learned what didn’t work at that time. When 10 years’ worth of recurring revenue decreases by 25% within the first 30 days of the pandemic, the lessons learned in the recession allowed us to make the cuts we needed early in the pandemic to give my team peace of mind to do their job to the best of their ability.” Eric tackled the downturn with the mantra of cut once, cut deep, be completely transparent about it, and make cuts across the board. “The team needed to feel safe so we could get back to work, and we were able to bring back the majority of our employees we laid off within a month of those cuts once people began to spend money again.”
The first employee at Bluleadz was hired at Mr. Rooter at that time. “We were spending $25,000 a month on Yellow Pages advertising compared to $8,000 a month for the website. That came out to $300 a call for our Yellow Pages ad to $45 a call for each website hit. Right out of the gate, Bluleadz ended up with 40 clients because of the success I’d had within my own Mr. Rooter business.” He duplicated those processes for other franchise businesses and led them to the same kind of successes he had with his own business. Once Eric found HubSpot, they implemented it and pivoted the business to purely inbound leads. Eric credits the book “Traction” by Gino Wickman (founder of EOS) for helping him provide a framework to run small to medium sized businesses.
Over the last decade, Bluleadz started working with small businesses, specifically plumbing companies. They now work with small to medium businesses with $1020 million in revenue, with a few larger companies. A team of three has now evolved into a team of 35, while being profitable from the start. “Profit First” by Michael Makowitz was another book Eric credited for Bluleadz’s success from day one. “Even in 2020, we were able to grow the business a little bit, but in 2021 we are poised for significant growth.”
Eric concluded his presentation by reiterating how having an online presence capable of generating leads online used to be a convenience, but is now a necessity. Many of the key principles Bluleadz was founded on came through Eric’s own experiences working with and owning other businesses and uniquely positioned him to be successful even during tumultuous times. For more information on how Bluleadz can help increase traffic to your site and convert that traffic into sales, check out their website: https://www.bluleadz.com/
Categorized in: Work
This post was written by Elevate, Inc.