Matt Vaadi and Mission-Based Organizations, Podcasting, and Marketing

Matt Vaadi is a social entrepreneur focused on alleviating homelessness in Columbia, SC and the surrounding areas. He accomplishes this mission by donating three percent of all revenue from his company, ERG Payroll & HR, to local charities focused on addressing this need. On top of all that, and being a best-selling author, Matt is a marketing nerd on the down-low and just a great guy.

During my chat with Matt, we discussed what it really means to operate a mission-based organization, starting with goal setting and company policies. Both of us being newbie podcasters, we swapped lessons learned and success stories. Finally, we hit on a few foundational concepts of inbound marketing that make it an effective strategy for businesses. Enjoy! 

Matt and CJ Discuss Running a Mission-Based Organization, Podcasting, and Inbound Marketing

 

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Full Conversation Transcript

CJ Maurer:
Hi everybody, CJ Maurer here with another episode of The Podcast. I'm more than a dozen episodes in now so I think it's about time I start to get a name and a theme going, but for the time being, I'm still having a lot of fun talking to interesting people, having conversations that range and span a variety of topics. Today, we're talking with Matt Vaadi. Matt is a really interesting person. We first got connected a couple of years ago when I was working in the payroll and HR industry, which is where Matt still currently makes his living.


CJ Maurer:
Matt resides just outside of Columbia, South Carolina. And he's actually the CEO of two companies in the payroll and HR industry. One is ERG Payroll and the other is Guhroo, spelled G-U-H-R-O-O. Nice little creative way to get the HR in there, which is a software company for the HR and payroll industry. In addition to that, Matt has also recently started a podcast. So he's somebody who's a big fan of content and likes to talk to other content creators, I think we're going to have a lot of fun things to discuss. First and foremost, Matt, thanks for coming on. How are you?


Matt Vaadi:
I'm wonderful. Thank you so much for having me.


CJ Maurer:
So what is the weather like right now in Columbia, South Carolina? I don't think there's many times where somebody in Buffalo, New York can feel like the weather is better. This may be the maybe one or two months of the year where we kind of have you beat with weather. What's it like down there right now?


Matt Vaadi:
That's it, hot and sticky. It is too hot to go outside. It's too humid to go outside. It is the three months out of the year or the summertime, which it kind of flips and flops, right. Up in Upstate New York where I grew up as well, we were just talking about, it's terrible three months in winter and in the summertime here, it's kind of a terrible three months where you just want it to get over and get on the fall. Spring's beautiful, winter is beautiful. So yes, so you are probably winning for once in Buffalo.


CJ Maurer:
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Well, the bills are starting to look pretty good now, too. So yeah, that's funny. We were just catching up before this. You're from Watertown, which is about three, three and a half hours here, about an hour North of Syracuse. One of the few places in the state of New York that is decidedly colder than Buffalo. I would say like in the winter you're averaging like maybe 10 degrees colder. My brother-in-law's in the army. He actually recently made Lieutenant Colonel and he actually works in the Pentagon right now. Before that he was stationed, he had been stationed at a number of places, but most recently him and his family were actually in Fort Drum in Watertown for three years. And so, I always add the city of any one of my immediate relatives on my weather app because I always just, I'm interested in weather and things like that. And it was always much colder there. So how long have you been down in South Carolina?


Matt Vaadi:
I've been in South Carolina for 10 years, I moved here from Raleigh where I was for six or seven years, but I spent the first 23 or so in Upstate New York. So, I'm happy to be here.


CJ Maurer:
Nice. Well, you're enjoying some beautiful weather. And I'll also say not a lot of snow flurries, but a flurry of entrepreneurial activity. You now run a couple of businesses. Tell me how you got started.


Matt Vaadi:
Interesting. When I moved here, I worked for one of the large national companies and I remember we knew when we moved to Columbia, South Carolina, this was kind of the last stop, if you will. We were going to make this home. We were going to start our family here. We didn't have kids at the time. And one day I was working for this company and I called up to our corporate office and I said, "Hey, we really want to get our local office more ingrained in what's going on here in the community. And can we have a couple hundred bucks to sponsor this 5k for the local food bank? We want to get involved. We want to get our logo out there. We want the local team to volunteer and show up and be a part of it." And they said, "You know what Matt, we just don't get involved at the local level."


Matt Vaadi:
And I understood it because obviously big national company, they've got offices all over. If they put $500 down for every 5k of every guy like me around the country, that wanted to be a part of the community, they'd probably go bankrupt. So it made sense to me, but it was not the direction where I wanted to go with my life and where I saw our future. And I had an entrepreneurial past before that, like everybody, I was entrepreneurial from the time I was a child all the way through to college businesses to starting my own side hustles after college as they're called nowadays. But you know, at that point that kind of set us on the path to say, all right, what can we do? And how can we do it better than the competition?


Matt Vaadi:
And we saw a real niche in the HR outsourcing and services market that wasn't being filled by the nationals by being able to provide those onsite and local experts along with best-of-breed technology and be able to serve a need that they really couldn't meet here locally and can't really deploy on the ground the way we can in all of the local and regional markets. So, that was six years ago this month. And so it's been an exciting ride. And like you mentioned, along the way, we actually, when you talk about that best-of-breed software, we struggled to find the right software for our business.


Matt Vaadi:
So a couple of years in, after changing platform several times we just decided the right thing to do was to build it based on what our client's needs were. And our clients are different. We don't take on every company. We don't work with a lot of blue collar organizations. We work with predominantly professional service companies who have a rather narrow niche of needs. And so we built a platform that meets their needs and now we white label it and sell it to other payroll and HR providers like ourselves.


CJ Maurer:
That's cool. Yeah. Going back to the whole, like leaning into local, I'm with you, I get where you're coming from. Right. If you're working for a large national billion-dollar publicly traded company, they probably can't say yes to all of those requests. How many of those local offices do they have? And within each local office, how many different community events do they want to sponsor and be a part of? I get that, but I also get realizing that you... I understand understanding why it's okay for them, but also realizing that you want something different for yourself. So it's not a matter of right or wrong. It's more a matter of preference. So good on you to identify that.


Matt Vaadi:
Yeah, it was a big decision like it always is anytime you're going to step out on your own. And I think one of the more challenging things has just been, where does giving fit inside the organization? I talked to our group of advisors a couple of years ago. And we have a policy where we give away 5% of our business. So we give away 3% of all revenue, we give away 1% of our time and 1% of our product. And we've talked to investors about investing in our software platform. And when they hear about our social mission, they're like, "Whoa, we don't send revenue out the door. I don't invest in things that send revenue out the door." We said, "Well, that's fine. That's not a great fit for you."


Matt Vaadi:
And somebody made the point once. He's like, "Well, I was at a charity event last night with a lot of these guys who made their exits and now they can give X tens of thousands of dollars and they can have a great time at these silent auctions and all that." And our mindset is, well, we might not ever exit, that's not our strategy. We might not ever have some big liquidity event. And so to wait to give is not really in the cards and to talk about how we give it is also something I'd like to get into as we start to dig into content as well, because it's always been a challenge for us how much you talk about being a mission-based organization, how much you put that out there versus how much you just kind of do those things behind the scenes. There's decisions that have to be made there.


CJ Maurer:
Are you a mission-based organization because it says so on the about us page on your website? Or are you a mission-based organization because that is interwoven into almost everything that you do and the decisions that you make? There's a big difference there.


Matt Vaadi:
There is. There is. Yeah. And I think I'll put it like this. Part of our quarterly goals, part of our annual goals are based around how much time we spend volunteering, what we do in the community. We measure it, right? So it goes beyond just the, Hey, we feel good about ourselves. We make some donation. Stroking a check for 3% of revenue while it hurts, is not a hard thing to do. Anybody could do that. And like I always kind of joke, anytime you see a big crisis, you'll watch a Walmart or somebody stroke a check, just off the cuff that's more than we'll give over the course of the next five years. They'll drop 100 grand in the bucket just because the flood came through.


Matt Vaadi:
So it's not about the quantity necessarily. It is about the positive ripple effect. And that is one of the reasons we do talk about it is because we've seen our clients start to roll out volunteer policies like we have. We've seen our clients start to roll out giving policies. We've seen them start to volunteer more together, and like you talked about, it is more than what we do. We volunteer together as a team every month. It's probably everybody's favorite thing when we do every month, it's the best team building activity we do is serving lunch at the local homeless shelter. So yeah, it has to be in your DNA. It has to be real. It has to be genuine and you have to hire people that it's in their DNA as well.


CJ Maurer:
That's exactly what I was thinking about because first of all, I find it very impressive that you guys donate 3% of your profits, 1% of your time, and 1% of your product. It's really cool and really commendable. Then you also talk about how you have a volunteer policy. And at first my mindset went well, isn't the idea of policy it's being mandated. Doesn't that undermine the fact that it's volunteer-based, right, where you are choosing to do it? Doesn't volunteer policy, isn't that like, doesn't it contradict itself? But you already answered the question how like one, you hire people for who it's in their DNA and it's their favorite day of the year or the quarter or whatever.


CJ Maurer:
When I was at Complete Payroll, we were thinking of an idea to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the company. And we did a tree planting day where we planted 25 trees around the community. And we've done a bunch of things since then, blood donations and other ways that employees have given their time. And it's everyone's favorite thing to do. Not just because the activity itself is fun, but it's something you can look at and be proud of and speak to in terms of like why your company exists. Right. If you're not a publicly traded company where your sole mission is to maximize shareholder value, right? You still want to be a profitable company, but then you must ask yourself, why do we exist as a company? What is our purpose? How do you answer that question?


Matt Vaadi:
Well, I'll answer it kind of with and I don't like to correct people as it comes off obnoxious, but you said 3% of profit. It's not 3% of profit. It's 3% of gross revenue. 3% of every dollar that comes in the door goes out. And so that was before we made a dollar. So for the first three years, we gave away more than we paid ourselves. So that's the commitment level that you've got to have and say, okay. And then you know when it gets harder is when you start making some actual money and you go, Oh, well now, maybe we should drop it down to 1% since the numbers are getting bigger that 3% turns into, but you can't.


Matt Vaadi:
I mean, once you've gotten, it's kind of like you encourage your employees to participate in a retirement plan because that 3% comes out of your check and you'll never miss it once you start taking it out of your check every day [inaudible 00:11:16]. Same mentality when it comes to giving as well. And I think that you asked, like how do you make sure that you stick with it, that it's in your DNA, et cetera. Well, you make it number one, right? It's the first thing that comes off the line item. Everything else is kind of behind that. And so that's big for us. And it's important that we don't forget it.


Matt Vaadi:
We have things that we measure related to client retention, related to new customer acquisition, related to employee retention, but we also have giving right up there in the same KPIs for us. And that's what makes it so important and critical is that everybody's measured on it and understands that it's an expectation, but it also gives us a great amount of joy about often said, giving is the most selfish thing you can do because you get a lot more out of it typically than the people you give to. And so, it's not about patting yourself on the back, but it is about that positive impact.


CJ Maurer:
Yeah. You feel amazing when you do it. I got to admit it's a little bit of I should say, I have to suspect it's a little bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, right? There has to be good. That comes out of it even in tangible ways. And based on the way you've described it, it's very clear to me that you don't give so that it's not a PR strategy, right? You don't give for marketing and sales so that buying business or anything like that. But I got to imagine that it does come back to you in terms of other businesses respecting what you're about and wanting to get behind and associate with companies like them. Is that true?


Matt Vaadi:
Well, you're touching on a couple of things that are important. So I'm a Christian. I have a strong faith and there's very sort of contradictory language in the Bible about how we should speak or not speak about giving, right, and what should we share, what's on our heart and what we give towards and how we spend our time and our actions. And it took a long time wrestling with, do we want to talk about this at all? Do we want it to be part of our marketing? Do we want to put on the website that we give this? And for a while we didn't, and it took some wise counsel to kind of understand that, Hey, you can impact more lives talking about it, than you probably will with the giving itself. And so you need to make sure that you're open and you explain your story and the types of organizations that you give to and elevate their causes as you're doing it.


Matt Vaadi:
And so to your point, yeah, I think it helps. I think it's certainly part of our value proposition and that, Hey, look, we are unique because we are a mission-based company. You will not find one of our competitors that is going to be talking about this before they talk about their service and their great technology, eye roll. But the other piece of that is, it was interesting about two years ago, we took a step back and we pulled all of our client data out of CRM hold industries. And I think it was for some consulting group. And about 25% of our clients were nonprofits. And we don't target nonprofits, we didn't go after them. We never had any, as a matter of fact, I would think that'd be the last thing, the last group that would come to us.


Matt Vaadi:
We have a premium product, premium service, we charge a premium for it. And so we tend to be a little bit higher on the cost end, but I looked at it and I said, wow, that's a pretty high percentage. That's actually our highest percentage from any industry that, and Dennis were our highest percentages. And so I said, okay, well, I guess we have a market in nonprofits. And I think that that message does resonate with them. And word does get back to them that, Hey, look, there's a group that's not like these other groups that we've had to deal with in the past, when you talked about our national competition.


CJ Maurer:
That's fantastic. I want to shift gears a little bit and talk about creating content.


Matt Vaadi:
Please.


CJ Maurer:
So you run two businesses, you run a payroll business and you run an HR software business, which by the way, that's pretty commendable because most people, for those who aren't aware, most people who run payroll businesses license software from another company. So kudos to you guys for developing your own. I know that takes a lot of time and money to do that, but I'm sure it's paying off. So you recently started a podcast. Tell me about it.


Matt Vaadi:
Yeah. So recently I started, you talk about self-fulfilling, maybe this is more of a scratching your own itch. I started a podcast called Payrollin' where I'm interviewing owners, industry folks in the payroll industry to basically I'm just picking their brains and learning more about how they grew their payroll business, how they grew, mostly folks that are serving regionally, folks that are on the Inc. 5000, people that are opening multiple offices, people that are doing the things I want to do quite frankly. So it's interesting to get the opportunity to sit down and talk to them. Most of these interviews have gone on for about 45 minutes or so. I really picked their brains learn from them, but then share it with other people in the industry. And obviously, there is some promotive element to that, and I don't know if promotive is a word.


CJ Maurer:
Promotional.


Matt Vaadi:
Promotional. There you go. Yeah. Just make up some words here. We're on a podcast. So the Guhroo, our white label HR software, obviously our target market are payroll company owners. So it was a nice niche for us and sort of self-serving in the respect that I get to pick the brains of some of the best in the industry. And it's worked out really well. I've kind of expand on that a little bit as it relates to how we see it in the marketing mix. So obviously you're a content guy, we're big fans of content and what I think a podcast gives you that most other things don't is that repurposing elements that it's just going to become very formulaic.


Matt Vaadi:
So I say that from the perspective of one podcast turns into two to three LinkedIn videos, two to three LinkedIn posts, however many other posts on other social channels you want to go to. We don't really mess around with any other social channels at Guhroo. An email blast, it goes into a YouTube video. It goes into a blog post. It goes to then to potentially assets on top of that. So you take a 45-minute conversation with somebody and you can turn it into 10 different pieces of content at a minimum, at a minimum. If we had more hours in the day, I mean, we can turn that into 50 different pieces of content.


CJ Maurer:
Hey, do you want to start doing sales for my marketing agency? Because what you just said sounds really familiar to what I tell people all the time.


Matt Vaadi:
Yeah. And I think that is, as an entrepreneur/closet marketer, that is the thing, the one piece of advice I give all the time, unsolicited most of the time is just repurpose, right? Like even those assets you create for your clients, right? The questions from your clients. A lot of people feel like they're giving away the secret sauce when they answer the questions that their clients ask to the public, but it's quite the opposite, right? If they could deal without your service, based on some information that you're providing on LinkedIn, and then your service is not very valuable. But if you can provide a lot of that information for free, that will lead people to you as a trusted resource then you'll see big dividends on that.


CJ Maurer:
Yeah. I've often said that if customer service reps could just CC the marketing team, anytime they get a legitimate question from a customer, right, then marketing team could build up a database. Those are all opportunities to create content. Answer that question, shoot a two-minute video, right? You have a video, you throw it up on YouTube, you transcribe it. There's your blog posts. There's your SEO play. Now you cut that up or take the whole thing. You put it on social media, you amplify it that way. Now you have things to share with your customers and prospects through email blasts. You give it to your sales team, teach them how to use it, use that content to open up doors and continue conversations and follow up by adding value. Not just saying, Hey, just checking in. Hope all is well, how's that decision coming? You know what I mean? Thinking about all relationships as deposits and using content as a way to make those deposits and add value and differentiate is tremendous. And like you said, it's incredibly versatile. So kudos to you for doing that. How long have you been doing it?


Matt Vaadi:
Well, the podcast, it's just three or four weeks.


CJ Maurer:
How many episodes?


Matt Vaadi:
You will be the fourth episode tomorrow, CJ. So we're coming up on episode four.


CJ Maurer:
Nice. Yeah. I love this. You know you're really in 2020, when somebody reaches out and say, Hey, do you want to be on my podcast? And so you said, sure, do you want to be on mine? And they're scheduled in back-to-back days. That's very 2020 of us.


Matt Vaadi:
That is very 2020 of us. I was doing a demo of something earlier and I sent myself a message from a system in front of a group like, Hey, I love your podcast to myself. And it was very 2020 thing to do that I am along with everybody else in America has a podcast. But there's something I want to break down though is, so here's why I didn't do it until just now. And this is the mindset that I think a lot of people are in, and that is because I know, and I have proven myself correct that I'm not going to get tens of thousands of followers on my podcast. I'm just not.


Matt Vaadi:
There's not that many people interested in me. I don't have that big of a market I'm trying to serve with what I'm doing. I'm in an incredibly niche market when you talk about payroll, bureau owners and executives. But what I realized is you don't need tens of thousands of listeners. You need 50 listeners, you need 75 listeners, you need 100 listeners. And then once again, going back to that repurposing of the content, I mean, we get a lot more traction from the LinkedIn posts, from the emails, from the other elements than the podcast will ever have, but it all starts with the podcast.


CJ Maurer:
Yeah. Fantastic. What have you noticed, where have you seen tangible proof or validation that this is the right thing and that you should keep doing more of it?


Matt Vaadi:
Oh, it was immediate. I realized this is not going to be this way for everybody, but Google Analytics, week one website traffic through the roof after the post that we put out related to the podcast. Leads, inbound leads coming in, you saw we're on HubSpot. I mean, we can track the meetings that are being set. Every measurable we had related to our marketing, whether that, inbound leads, website traffic, social interaction, everything went up when we started.


Matt Vaadi:
Now granted, if I were to take that at ERG, which has a little bit more mature of a content strategy than Guhroo, we probably wouldn't see the tick to the level we did with Guhroo. But I will say if you're somebody that's maybe a little bit newer in the content game, which I would consider Guhroo to be compared to our more mature brand, then you will see immediate implications if you're able to take that and put it in front of the right audience.


CJ Maurer:
Yeah. I agree. Selfless promotion here. Not so selfish, but enough I'd say. I work with a couple of clients who I've helped start podcasts, and they're seeing some of the same things. Some of the clients with bigger sites, more mature sites that already have more traffic, the increase is less exponential, as you said, but I'm sure everybody understands that. What about this process has been difficult for you or anything that you didn't expect?


Matt Vaadi:
Well, I don't know if it's difficult or didn't expect. It is just work, right? I mean, it's a matter of right now I'm still ironing out the process before I can delegate a lot of the little pieces that are currently falling on me. And I think that's just going to take some time to understand, Hey, what's the right day to share these social posts after the fact to cutting up the social posts, creating the content. Now, one of the things I don't ever do and some folks are into this, I guess is my personal accounts. I will never farm out any content that's coming out of my personal account.


CJ Maurer:
Yeah. Neither will I.


Matt Vaadi:
Which I think though is something that we have to coach a lot of business owners on this. We certainly get asked a lot of questions about our content because ERG is a content machine and we get all of our business is inbound. We do no outbound. And so we get a lot of questions about that. And one of the biggest challenges for business owners I think, and I'd love to hear your perspective on this, is understanding that the company LinkedIn account isn't going to get you many leads, if any leads at all. It's going to have to come from the executives creating strong content, being involved, engaging with people and nurturing the content that the company page is getting out there.


Matt Vaadi:
I think one of the best examples I saw this recently was there was, I don't remember what brand it was, but they had three million followers on LinkedIn and they had three likes on the page. Whereas meanwhile, they may have an executive with 1,500 connections who will get reach that hits tens of thousands when they share a post. So it's about getting that reach and it's about being real and it's about being authentic. And then people see you as somebody who is a trusted content producer, which is not about producing content, but more about providing value. And then they kind of find their way to you from there.
CJ Maurer:
Yeah. Well, it's that, but it's also just people are more attracted to people than they are faceless companies. Right? So one of the things that my clients often ask me is, so should we share things from the company page or the personal page? Or like understanding the relationship between the two. And you know, if you're going to produce content, it's very easy to share it from the company page or say, why not share that from the company page? But if you really want traction and reach, share it from your page or go on your page and share it from the company page so they see it came from the company and it's shared.


CJ Maurer:
Either way, as long as you, the individual share it, right, that's what's important because then it's coming from you. You can add your own spin on it or introduction, or why you think it's valuable. You can tag people. You can do what you do just through your networking and make it your own. Because at the end of the day, in many cases with B2B organizations, the sales reps get new prospects because the people choose them initially. Right. That's what's going to get people in the door. What is ultimately going to close the deal? Yes. Company, product, software, price, all of those things. Right. But what's going to book the first meeting, what's going to capture the attention, it's going to be the efforts of that person. Right. Are they likable? Are they engaging? Are they trustworthy? All of those things. So yeah, at the end of the day, people are more attracted to people. I can't think of, I know I do, but I can't think of any company pages on LinkedIn that I follow. I follow people all the time. I'm interested in what people have to say. Completely different.


Matt Vaadi:
Well, and companies provide a lot less value at the end of the day. Right? I mean, that's the thing that I get a little bit... If you start posting all of the, look, there's a personal element to this. Right. I've seen some of my more personal posts and I don't have a whole lot of personal things I post on LinkedIn, but they certainly get a lot of traction, but I get awfully tired of looking at people's like, Oh, I'm off to the gym again today rise and grind. I don't really care about that. If I follow you and we're not a connection I'm really interested to learn about what you're an expert at. And while I do want to get to know you, I don't want to know a faceless brand. I'm also less interested in what your morning CrossFit workout looks like though.


Matt Vaadi:
So I bring that back though, to say one thing. You asked about the difference between company page or you mentioned some differences between company and personal. One of the nice things, and you see this all the time, and I bet a lot of your clients say when they're coming to you is, Hey, look, we don't put stuff out because we don't have production budget. It's not well-produced. It's not really well-refined, whatever it might be. Well, that's great. You can put that really well-refined stuff out from your company page and all those videos that you pay thousands of dollars for, but you can throw a slap on a Zoom and record yourself in 30 seconds and put a video out right now on LinkedIn. And it doesn't have to be well-produced, right? And as long as you're providing the value and proving yourself as a thought leader in something of meaning, then it's going to get visits and it's going to give views.


CJ Maurer:
It's funny, you mentioned that because the first episode that I did in my podcast back in April was with a friend of mine named Jason. And he is one of the most talented videographers I've worked with. He runs a small video production studio. He's really good. He offers high production value. He's really good at storytelling, being persuasive. He works with some of the larger brands here in Western New York. And one of the things that he's really advocating for, obviously he sees the greater purpose of what he does and the impact it has for people and businesses and he advocates for producing content. And one of the things that he was going to town on was, how one, the barriers to entry have been significantly reduced to allow more people to create content and why that's good and also how the production quality matters less.


CJ Maurer:
And here's a guy who I've watched direct a shoot with lighting people, sound people, hair and makeup, to camera, all of this stuff, right? And here's a guy who knows production quality and values more than almost anybody else. And he's like, you know guys, they're shooting The Tonight Show on Zoom, and cell phone videos are making their way to national television commercials. Right. And so the idea is that like, yes, there's still a part of all of us if you run a business that you want to maintain a level of production quality and sophistication with your communication. But at the same time, that matters less to people. What matters way more is the person in front of the camera and the content they're delivering, the value they're delivering.


CJ Maurer:
If you have a good message, it doesn't matter how good the lighting is or the framing or the intrographic, all these things that I even invest in when I'm promoting my own content, but really what it's about is the value. And so good on you guys to notice that. I think that more people are noticing that as well. And I think that trend will continue.


CJ Maurer:
So before we wrap up, because we're getting pretty close to time here. We talked about, you grew up in Western New York, you moved down South and you started running companies. You started the payroll company, you started the HR company and now you're doing a podcast, right? So you're big on content creation. As somebody who's also a big fan of inbound marketing, why don't you tell me a little bit about, you said all of the strategy and all the leads for ERG are inbound, right? How did you get started in inbound? Who first put it on your radar? How did you start doing it? And without disclosing any trade secrets, right, what central tenants of that strategy are making it successful?


Matt Vaadi:
Well, there's no real secrets. I mean, it's been on my radar from day one. So I'm an old school sales guy by career if you will. I started with the outbound picking up the phones, slamming, showing up at offices and bringing the cakes and the cookies and the cards and all this stuff. And just really, I mean, I escalated my career by being willing to hear no, an awful lot. Right. And that's not a great method for growing a business when it's you and then maybe one person and then maybe two people. And that's a hard way. And quite frankly, it wasn't the reputation we wanted in the market.


Matt Vaadi:
So early on, we got on board with SEO pretty early, we got onboard with content creation pretty early. Just more from a perspective of, Hey, what templates and guides do our potential clients need? What templates and guides would the CPAs like to be able to give to their clients for free would their logo on them, not our logo? Oh, there's a revolutionary tactic, right? Branded for the people that you actually care about, not worrying about your brand necessarily, knowing that that will pay returns for you later. But I think it really kind of clicked when I, I go back to a statement I made earlier, when I realized that no matter how much of our stuff we give away for free, it's all of it together that creates our service offering, right?


Matt Vaadi:
So we're not going to give away all of our software, all of our services, all that, but we can give away every handbook, template, new hire template, onboarding worksheet, core values worksheet, all the stuff that people are searching for and that they need new hire packets, everything. And it doesn't hurt us any. We've already created it. I mean, it's free marketing for us. We're getting to share something that we already do.


Matt Vaadi:
And I think that probably the best example of this was right now with COVID-19, we've seen a huge surge in business because we saw, as soon as the FCRA CARES Act went into place, we were chomping at the bit. Let's be first to market with education and content on a regional level. And we have seen folks from all over the country, come to us and say, Hey, that's where I found you first. I was on that webinar. I downloaded that asset. I hit the site. I mean, they went right through the digital funnel like you'd love, CJ. You'd see it, you'd see that journey and you'd be ecstatic, right?


Matt Vaadi:
I mean, it was the first types of, yeah, first types of a piece of content then into a webinar, then into the funnel, then into a call. I mean, by that point, you talked about it earlier, they knew us. They didn't have to sit through four sales meetings in big pitches. They knew who we were, what we were about. And we had provided so much value before they even got into the funnel intentionally that they were ready to do business with us.


CJ Maurer:
Good for you. I just pulled up your website right now and I can see it. And it's loaded with content. Right on the homepage below the main banner, you have coronavirus related resources for employers, which matters, social distancing compliance, PPP loans, things like that. Complete Payroll did the same thing. And yeah, I mean, they really benefited from being a leader in producing content for that. And really, that's just, I don't want to just talk about the payroll industry because you know, I would assume most of the people who are watching or listening are not in the payroll industry. There's probably a few due to both of our careers, but the larger point is to seize the opportunity for any business. Right.


CJ Maurer:
And we'll use the payroll industry as an example. When important things happen, labor law legislation, for example, right? Whether it be New York, right, even before coronavirus, you have things like paid family leave and you have things like new sexual harassment prevention laws. A lot of times there aren't like direct tangible products to sell as a result of those laws. But the important thing to realize, as you know, my kids freak out downstairs, even though my door's closed, the important thing to realize is that your audience values that, because even if you don't have a particular product to sell for a specific piece of information, it matters to them. It helps them do their job. They need to understand it better.


CJ Maurer:
So if you can be the source for that, right, they're going to remember that, they're going to trust you. Not to mention it could be the way many people first hear about you, because again, you talk about producing content for a highly relevant AKA, highly searched topic. That's a really great way to expose your business to a lot of people. Capture those leads if they want to subscribe to more updates via email. So I'm just really impressed that you're doing it because quite frankly, still a lot of businesses aren't fully on board with inbound, still a lot of B2B organizations aren't fully on board. And especially quite frankly, from what I've been able to observe a lot of businesses in the payroll industry aren't on board with that and they're missing opportunities. Maybe that's something we can talk about tomorrow, but I'm just really impressed, quite frankly. And I'm really glad we had the chance to talk about it, right?


CJ Maurer:
You're an entrepreneur, you run two companies, you understand inbound, and now you're producing content. I mean, this is, you are like the prototypical guest for this podcast right now, or at least as it relates to the professional side because as I said before, I still haven't figured out what exactly this is all about. I call it CJ's podcast because people come on and I talk about a bunch of different things. I had a friend down and talked about playing music and it's not always about business, but from the business side of things, I mean, you really are the prototypical guest to share with my listeners and viewers, anybody who knows me through a professional realm.


CJ Maurer:
So Matt, this has been great. Before we part ways let me ask you, if anybody is following along and is interested in what you have to say, wants to connect with you, where should they go to learn more about you and potentially connect with you?


Matt Vaadi:
So if you searched my name, I'm the only Matt Vaadi that will pull up on Google. So it's V-A-A-D-I, LinkedIn is where I live as far as social channels. And yeah, I just love to connect with other folks. I've been blessed to get to know a lot of people all around the country, just through... I joke the first guest on our podcast was Matt Umholtz. You may know him out of, he's based here out of Houston, Texas. And I reached out to him when we first started our business. He was out in front of us by a few years. And I just said, Hey, man, I just want to learn from you. Are you open to networking and talking? And he was. And we met at IPPA two years ago. And for the first time after having known each other for like three or four years, internet and phone relationship, and then it was like, Oh, a real human being.


Matt Vaadi:
But so I urge people not only to reach out to me, but just to be comfortable reaching out to people who do what you do around the country so that you can learn from them. And if you see somebody, to CJ's point, who's doing inbound really well that's in your industry. That's how CJ and I first got connected. I saw he was doing inbound really well. Hey man, what are you up to? How are you doing that research? What do you guys do in here? What are you doing there? He was willing to, everybody's willing to share a trade secret because more often, we're usually not competing in any way, shape or form.


CJ Maurer:
I'm with you, man, I don't abide by trade secrets. I'm an open book. I think it's all about execution quite frankly, especially-


Matt Vaadi:
I'm going to get a bell for the podcast.


CJ Maurer:
What's that?


Matt Vaadi:
Like every time somebody makes a point, I keep saying, I'm going to get this like bell that I can ring. Maybe I got to get a guy who puts in and you should get them too, the sound effects because that was a bell ringer point right there, right?


CJ Maurer:
Nice. Well guess what?


Matt Vaadi:

I'm sorry to cut you off.

 

CJ Maurer:
No, I mean, it is a bell ringer point, but I didn't invent it. I heard it from somebody else and then discovered it to be true through my own experiences. That's absolutely true. You can find anything on the internet. There's no secrets anymore. If I really wanted to, I could spend the time and learn more about the car that the car salesman is trying to sell me. Right? This is the information age. So it's not about, there are no trade secrets. So I'm glad to hear that because that's how I operate too. It's about execution. And yeah, I'm glad you mentioned that too, because I checked when I reached out to you to be on this podcast, I checked our LinkedIn message history and it was 2017 when you reached out to me about, Hey, I see you're doing inbound. How's it going? So three years, it's the last time, first time we spoke, well, maybe potentially at IPPA, but so I like how it all comes together.


CJ Maurer:
So Matt, very impressive guy from a business perspective, from a mission and giving perspective, also from a content perspective, really appreciate you having on. If anybody's interested in connecting with Matt, check them out on LinkedIn, Matt V-A-A-D-I, I'll also drop a link to his profile in the blog post. So follow on there. Matt, thanks again. I appreciate it. Looking forward to doing your podcast and maybe you can come back out again on mine someday too.


Matt Vaadi:
All right. Thank you so much, CJ. I really appreciate you having me.


CJ Maurer:
See you.


Matt Vaadi:
Bye.

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