Jan. 9, 2023

How Joe Apfelbaum harnesses High Energy Marketing using LinkedIn Ep. 103


Joe Apfelbaum is the CEO of Ajax Union, a B2B digital marketing agency based in Brooklyn, NY. Joe is a business strategist, marketing expert, and certified Google trainer. Joe is the author of his new book, High Energy Networking, How to get anything you want in business and in life by building meaningful relationships. When he is not Mojovating entrepreneurs at events and on LinkedIn he enjoys his time in Brooklyn with his 5 kids.

Where to find Joe Apfelbaum

Website: www.ajaxunion.com

 

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Transcript

Joe Apfelbaum:

So if I was gonna invest my time in learning how to use a platform, even if I'm gonna spend 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn, I'm gonna get an ROI. I generate millions of dollars a year from LinkedIn for myself, and now I've trained over a thousand companies on how to leverage LinkedIn as well.

Natasha Miller:

Welcome to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS. How do people end up becoming an entrepreneur? How do they scale and grow their businesses? How do they plan for profit? Are they in it for life? Are they building to exit? These, and a myriad of other topics will be discussed to pull back the veil on the wizardry of successful and FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS. My book, RELENTLESS is now available everywhere books can be bought online, including Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com. Try your local indie bookstore too, and if they don't have it, they can order it just ask them, the reviews are streaming in, and I'm so thankful for the positive feedback as well as hearing from people that my memoir has impacted them positively. It is not enough to be resilient. You have to be RELENTLESS. You can go to the RelentlessBook.com for more information. Thank you so much. Today we're talking to Joe Apfelbaum. He's the CEO of Ajax Union, a digital marketing agency in Brooklyn, New York. His newest book is called High Energy Networking, how to Get Anything You Want In Business and In Life by Building Meaningful Relationships. You'll see in this episode Joe Apfelbaum positivity, the way he works with his marketing clients, and why he focuses on LinkedIn. As a powerful tool in business. Now let's get right into it.

Joe Apfelbaum:

The main differentiator that we have at Ajax Union is that we're not just a marketing agency that does marketing. We're also understand business. I just had a conversation with a company that's doing 27 million in revenue and they want to get to a hundred million in revenue, and they were like, what type of marketing do we need to do to get to a hundred million in revenue? And I said, let's take a step back and talk about your business. What does your business need to do to get to a hundred million in revenue? It's not just about marketing. There's a lot that goes into changing your business so that it can really handle the type of growth that you're looking for. And they were completely shocked because every other agency that they spoke to is like, "Oh, you can do SEO." "You can do PPC." "You can do email marketing." "You can do PR." Sure, you can do a bunch of tactics. But if you're missing a strategy, realize this. If you're an entrepreneur and you don't have a strategy, realize that the right strategy will save you a decade. An energy without strategy is a complete waste of time. So we specialize in first setting a solid foundation, a solid strategy to understand what are the key areas in your business that you need to improve, you need to systematize, create processes for. And if you can do that, then you can apply some amazing assets, some amazing funnels. And from there you can send traffic to those and that will help you get to your goal and get your business to where it needs to go.

Natasha Miller:

How do people react to that positioning when they're asking you for marketing tips and then you're going to tell them really, your systems and your processes and your infrastructure and all these things need to be accounted for first. Does anyone say, "Yeah, buddy. Thanks."

Joe Apfelbaum:

If they're under a million dollars in revenue, it goes right over their head. And they're typically be like, but how much does SEO cost Cause they think they have the answers. But if they have a team, usually, if they have a management team, if they've been around the block, maybe EO, YPO, Vista Strategic Forum. They were on the Inc 500. They've been around the block a little bit, and maybe they've read a couple of books. They know what I'm saying is right, and so they're gonna like lean in and be like, "Hang on, this is different." This is a different type of conversation that I really, really want to have because most people are not having this conversation. 96% of business owners are doing less than a million dollars a year in annual revenue, and it's not because they're not smart. It's not because they're not lucky, it's because they don't focus on strategy. It's like they say, work on your business, not in your business. It's like work on your life, not in your life if you wanna grow your business. Jim Rhon's, Tony Robbins' mentor, it was Jim Rhon's, I dunno if you know Tony Robbins's story, but before he was Tony Robbins, he was Anthony and he was broke and he was living out of his car and he went to go sell tickets for Jim Rhon's personal development program so that he could do personal development himself. Jim Rhon's said, you can only grow your business as much as you grow yourself, and so you gotta work on yourself. You gotta work on your business, not just in your business. And that will help you take your life and your business to a whole new level.

Natasha Miller:

And once you get that through your potential client's head, is it you that helps with those strategies or are you referring them to others?

Joe Apfelbaum:

So I remember when I started doing web design, it was just about me. It was the one man band. It was like me trying to tell everybody how smart I am. And when I started Ajax Union, I knew that it couldn't just be about, It needed to be about we. It needed to be about my team. And so one of the commitments that I made when I started Ajax Union 14 years ago is that I'm never going to be doing the work myself. Cuz if I wanna build a multimillion dollar business, which I set out to build and I successfully build, I can't be the one doing the work. I need to hire people that are smarter than me, that are better than me, that are more consistent than me. I'm an entrepreneur, I'm a visionary.

Natasha Miller:

You're a skateboarder, you're a roller blader, you're a dad of five, you are a Mojo Vader. I don't know. We're gonna talk about that in a moment. So yeah, you got things to do. So you're a strategist and you're a visionary for your business. And I think what's unique about you is that you knew this earlier, then most entrepreneurs did. You knew this earlier in your career than I knew that. And so go for it. So when a client comes to you and asks you for marketing help, and you're like, okay, are you ready for this? And they said, oh my gosh, we're not. Then what? Where do you point them?

Joe Apfelbaum:

If you're not ready for marketing, then we can potentially do some consulting together to help you craft a strategy that makes sense. We can look at elements of your business that we could work on, like low hanging fruits there are three stages to the funnel. There's the top of the funnel, there's the middle of the funnel, and there's the bottom of the funnel. And I talk about this in my book, High Energy Marketing, but if they don't have the top of the funnel and the middle funnel built out, looking at their bottom of the funnel to determine where the low hanging fruit is to generate the revenue they need to make investments in their business to be able to properly grow is gonna be the first step. I always like looking at the low hanging fruit first. There are opportunities, and then going back to their leadership team and get everybody on the same page. What is the vision for the business? What do you guys actually want to do? A lot of companies that are in the two to 5 million range, they don't have their target market straight. They don't have their plan to be able to really execute and grow, organize, and that's why if they do the EOS program, if they're in like doing traction or if they're a little bit bigger and they're doing scaling up, that's what those frameworks are for, to help create the operating systems to be able to grow your business. I always said this, micromanage the process, not the people. Because people don't want to be micromanaged. People want autonomy. They want mastery. They want purpose. And if they have those three things, they're gonna thrive within your organization. Especially if they have the GWC, especially if they get it, they want it, and they're capable according to EOS. That's what should mean.

Natasha Miller:

You should, you should be an EOS traction coach.

Joe Apfelbaum:

I've studied it extensively because we self-implemented it in our business. What I want to tell business owners listening to this, entrepreneurs listening to this, if you're not ready for marketing. You need to be ready for strategy. You need to take a step back and you think about, "Okay, what's my plan?" "Who's my target?" "What's my messaging?" "What are the stories that I need to be telling?" And if you have all that, then you need to create some assets and then you need to test the marketing from that perspective.

Natasha Miller:

Okay. Well you heard it here from Joe. Okay. So you are the embodiment of positivity. I just met you recently. I am following you on social media, and I know that people cannot be up a hundred percent of the time, but you are up and positive a lot of the time, and you use this word, which I want you to describe, Mojo Vading, bring it on.

Joe Apfelbaum:

Most people don't realize this, that your happiness or your sadness or your emotions are literally just a state. When I discovered this and actually discovered it, it completely changed my life. I have a choice. I can either. Happy or I can be right. If I try to be right constantly, often, I'm not gonna be happy. So for me, I'm not trying to be right. I don't need to win. I don't need to do any of that. What I wanna do is I wanna feel joy, I wanna feel freedom, I wanna feel high vibing. Powerful emotions that make me feel more alive, more connected to who I really am. So the concept of mojovation, the concept of feeling mojovated is not about motivation, because motivation you need and you have, and it has to do with your purpose. But mojovation is knowing who you really are and really being authentic to who you are. Really being able to not care about other people's opinions, not just saying, I don't care about other people's opinions, but really deep down to your core, realizing that other people's opinions are none of your business, and really being able to shine your light and find people that you can support and just be yourself, whatever that is. In any environment that I'm in, I strive to be completely authentic, not to be in my ego, not to be in my identity, not to be in the agendas, and sometimes those things creep up and when they. It takes me over, and then I gotta take a deep breath and get back into the state that I choose to be in. We can all choose to be in a particular state, but we often lose that choice when we forget that we are conscious human beings that have the capacity to choose your thoughts and your feelings, and as a result, your states and your actions.

Natasha Miller:

When did you come upon these ideas and revelations for yourself in your life?

Joe Apfelbaum:

I would say about 10 years ago. So the first process was that Google approached me in 2011, so this is like 11 years ago or so. They approached me and they said, do you want to be a google Trainer and I said, "A Google trainer? What does that mean?" And so I started looking into it and apparently they wanted to put me in a room with a bunch of business owners and they wanted to have me present to those business owners. And I said, of course I can do that. I can talk to business owners. I need clients, I need business owners. You bring them to me, I'll teach 'em about SEO, PPC, I'm the expert. I can teach them. I'm not working in my business. I'm working on my business so I can do present. I got up in front of a group of my own employees. At that time, I think we had like 40 people, and I started shaking when I wanted to do my presentation. I was like, what is going on here? And then I got up in front of a crowd of 80 business owners and I was pacing and saying the word basically, and I was out of breath and I couldn't take it. And I didn't know why. Like my heart was like racing. And I started digging deep and doing research, and that led me on an entire personal development journey. I lost a hundred pounds. I used to be afraid of networking. I became a networking master. I used to be afraid of writing. I published five books and going through that journey of personal development is a process, is a decade of work. And reading the books, going to the seminars. I did landmark multiple times, multiple seminars. I did Tony Robbins. I hired a bunch of coaches. I've read the books, did the courses. Incredible journey that I've been on to get to a place where I realize, there's so many layers and there's so many beliefs that we have that stop us from being who we really, truly were meant to be, a light that can shine. And so for me, the journey started in becoming a professional speaker. First, a public speaker, and now a professional speaker, member of the National Speakers Association. Loved doing keynotes. And moderating and speaking and guiding and coaching and mentoring and training. I absolutely love doing this stuff.

Natasha Miller:

That's good to know. So if you're listening to this and you're not in the place that Joe is at currently, there is still time, there's still ways for you to find that path for yourself, and that's impressive. I didn't know that about you, and now it makes sense, but you're living it every day. Most of the time that you make public, let's just say. So I'm gonna circle back up to another thing that you are known for doing, and that is LinkedIn marketing. What made you focus on that specifically above and beyond other things, right now.

Joe Apfelbaum:

There's so many other platforms online that people can focus on. There's TikTok, there's Instagram, there's Facebook, Snapchat, and the famous Twitter that fired all their employee.

Natasha Miller:

Did you, Joe, let me tell you this, by the way, and anyone listening, my team was on site when Ilan came in with his sync, cuz we were producing an event for his company. Oh, that was a weird day. Wow. But I digress. Go ahead. LinkedIn. What is all about it?

Joe Apfelbaum:

Microsoft paid 26.2 billion to purchase LinkedIn. LinkedIn was an independent, private, publicly owned company and their stock was tanking and the Microsoft decided to overpay for the company and bring it in because they saw that LinkedIn was the only professional social network in the world. That was at the scale that it was 10 years ago when I started teaching LinkedIn. They only had 65 million members today as a result of that acquisition and all the work that Microsoft have put, they're at 875 million members, 40% are engaged. They're logging in on a regular basis. And what I see LinkedIn being differently than any other platform is that when I look at your profile, Natasha, I see your first name, your last name, your company name, where you work, where you worked in the past, when you went to school, when you graduated. I see our mutual connections. I see everything about you. I see all your activity, what you liked on, what you commented on, everything you posted. I see your article. I literally see everything about you, and you can't do that in other social platforms. I can even see when you looked at my profile, so you almost have like a caller ID knowing which prospects are Googling you because your LinkedIn profile will rank on Google when you search for someone's name now, and this is extremely, extremely powerful information if you're in business development. If you're a networking professional. If you are out there to build relationships and you care about your own reputation, if you're a thought leader. LinkedIn is the platform that has more millionaires than any other platform out there. There's a lot of broke people. I don't know if you know the statistic, but about 80% of human beings are living paycheck to paycheck and don't even have a thousand dollars in savings. My mind was blown when I found the statistic. Look around. Most people on Instagram are broke. Most influencers from their basement are broke, but on linked. People are paying money for LinkedIn. 38% of LinkedIn users are paying for LinkedIn. That's a big number, and there are more millionaires. I think there are 22 million millionaires in the United States. They're all on LinkedIn. Not all of them are on TikTok. Not all of them are on Instagram, but they're all on LinkedIn because LinkedIn is a professional social network. So if I was gonna invest my time in learning how to use a platform, even if I'm gonna spend 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn, I'm gonna get an ROI. I generate millions of dollars a year from LinkedIn for myself, and now I've trained over a thousand companies on how to leverage LinkedIn as well.

Natasha Miller:

Have you ever thought that you should write a book, that you should write the story of your life to help other people learn from your experience? Please go to MemoirSherpa.com and learn how I can help you write, figure out your publishing path and market your story, your memoir, to a best seller status. I wanna ask you a question, and I'm gonna pose it with a statement first. One of the things that I despise on LinkedIn is when somebody asks you to link in and the moment you do, they hit you up with an offer. Okay? So let's already just all agree that that is like, don't do that. But what do you do? What is the first thing you do?

Joe Apfelbaum:

The reason why people are doing that is because they don't know that LinkedIn is a networking platform. They think that it's a selling platform. LinkedIn is not a selling platform. It's a place where you go as a networking event. So for example, if you walk into a networking event and you start selling at a networking event, everyone's gonna look at you like you fell off the moon. What are you in life insurance? What are you doing over here? Why are you shoving your business card in my face? No, I'm not looking to buy from you. I don't know who you are. LinkedIn is about building relationships. So there are three mistakes that people make. They either say, "How are you?" Like annoyingly, like How am I? You don't even know who I am. Why do you care how I am? That's number one. Number two is they send me the entire life history. They send me these long messages. TLDR Too Long Didn't Read. LinkedIn is not a platform where people like reading lots and lots of information on DM because 58% of people are using it on their mobile phone. And of course the selling thing, which irks everybody, the connect and pitch. You don't want to get pitch slapped on LinkedIn, so instead what you wanna do.

Natasha Miller:

Thank you for that, by the way. I hope everyone caught that, but go ahead.

Joe Apfelbaum:

What you wanna do on LinkedIn is you wanna build a real relationship. We have a process in our course, in our coaching program where we teach people the greeting, feeding, and meeting process. The first thing you wanna do, When you're connecting with someone is you wanna greet them. You wanna build rapport because if you build rapport, that will open the door. People wanna connect with real human beings. You're not connecting with companies. You're connecting with first and last names. People that work at a company that have a title, that have a birthday. So build a real relationship. What's the first thing you do when you walk into a networking event? Or if you're dating, what's the first thing you do when you walk over to your. Do you right away say, "Hey, would you like to have five kids with me and move in today?" No, they're gonna run away. What's the first thing you do when you walk into the networking event? Do you right away say, Hey, would you like marketing services? I can do your marketing right now? No. I would say, "Hey, nice to meet you. Looking forward to getting to know you. What brings you to this place?" Or ask them a question, something interesting, or just share some gratitude. Greeting is very, very important as the first. And most people don't even thank their connections for connecting with them.

Natasha Miller:

Yeah, great. Thank you for that. And let's talk about that program that you've developed, which I'm very interested in, but can you give a little overview of what people could expect if they were considering that?

Joe Apfelbaum:

So if you are considering getting some LinkedIn training, we have a really robust program that walks people through how to create a strategy for LinkedIn. Remember earlier in the podcast I said it's really important to have a strategy. So our strategy's really simple. We teach you how to create a plan. How to target the right people and how to create the right promise, the right messaging to speak to those people. That's the foundation of our course. Then we teach you how to create the right assets. We teach you how to tell stories. How to optimize your profile. We have a 20 step checklist where we walk you through all the different areas of your profile to 10x your profile views. We also teach you what automation tools you should be using together with LinkedIn and make sure not you don't get banned from LinkedIn, and then we teach you how to get exposure, how to book meeting. And how to build credibility on LinkedIn. At the end of the day, if you're not booking meetings with LinkedIn, you're not gonna get clients. One of our students, her name is Sarah, she's an intimacy coach for CEOs. And she was using Facebook and talking to a lot of broke people. We switched her off to LinkedIn, gave her the right strategy, and she generated $200,000 in revenue in the first 90 days of working with our program. She joins our coaching sessions that happen twice a month. We have a continuing education session once a month with a workshop that we do each month. We cover something like LinkedIn Live or LinkedIn newsletter or company pages or something interesting or a strategy or a tactic. And then we have a community. We have over a thousand companies that we've served over the past three years. And so you get to meet other people that are also actively learning LinkedIn, building relationships with them, getting referrals, and growing your business. The best clients for me come from referrals, 2 to 3% of cold calls turn into a meeting, but 80% of email introductions turn into an appointment. And so if you're thinking about growing your business, if your clients are worth more than $10, $15, $20,000 in revenue for your business, in lifetime value. Then you want to consider LinkedIn as part of your mix, your networking mix. You can also do prospecting on LinkedIn if you're using Sales Navigator, and we also have a Sales Navigator bootcamp that rerun once a year, and you can find out more about that if you go to my website. Check out my LinkedIn profile. If you wanna find me on LinkedIn, I make that really, really easy. Natasha, I bought a domain, joelinkedin.com. That's J-O-E-linkedin.com. And Natasha, I recommend you buy natashalinkedin.com and when anybody wants to find you on LinkedIn, you could forward it right to your LinkedIn profile.

Natasha Miller:

Brilliant. I did that for our Zoom rooms in 2020 and 2021. So we have all these vanity URLs, but they're not really vanity, but with our name on it. Okay, here's a burning question that is a personal question I need to know, and I could look this up, but there's some outdated information. How does one enable themselves to do a LinkedIn Live?

Joe Apfelbaum:

So in order for you to do a LinkedIn live, you need a third party software. We can't just do LinkedIn live by doing LinkedIn Live. So step number one is go to your profile, turn creator mode on, and then get third party software. And we have a 45 minute tutorial in our program that walks you through step by step how to use a tool called Restream that allows you to do that. But there are quite a few. Streaming tools that will allow you to connect with LinkedIn live and allow you to be able to create a production on LinkedIn. One of the benefits of LinkedIn live is that it has the highest engagement from any other part of LinkedIn because you can create an event on LinkedIn. Invite people schedule it, but there's a very strategic way to get engagement that most people have no idea how to do. So learning how to do it correctly will be the difference between having crickets and having actual results.

Natasha Miller:

There was a time though, where you couldn't hold a LinkedIn live unless you had a certain status. Is that correct? And is that over?

Joe Apfelbaum:

That is over. Now, anybody can turn on creator mode on their profile and they will have LinkedIn live basically available. There used to be an application process that we would have to go through and start applying, but if you turn creator mode on, typically you'll have two features and maybe even three features on your profile. The first one is LinkedIn Live. The second is LinkedIn newsletter and the third one is LinkedIn Audio Rooms, which is like a clubhouse feature on LinkedIn.

Natasha Miller:

Yeah, rock on Clubhouse. I was actually on Clubhouse last night, strange story. So let's talk about your team before we end this. What is your team comprised of and how do you keep them motivated or mojovated?

Joe Apfelbaum:

My team is comprised of marketing professionals that are experienced and that we train to be able to give our clients results. Our employees are mojovated and motivated by us giving them autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Every single one of our employees loves what they do. They get their job, they actually get it, they actually want it, and they're actually capable. We have a scorecard also against our core values. We have three core values, amazing communication, ownership mentality and versatility. And we analyze our team to determine against those areas of whether or not they're doing well or they're not doing well. And if they're not doing well, we coach them and we support them. I have one-on-ones with our team. They have one-on-ones with their direct reports as well. For us, it's about getting to know the people. Every single Monday we get together and we share gratitude on a call, on a Zoom call, and we have a global team and every single person shares the things that they're grateful for, and that creates a sense of community. People tell me, before I worked here, I felt like I was just working somewhere. Now I feel like I'm part of a family. We actually care about what's going on in the lives of our employees. We have an employee spotlight every week where an employee gets up and they talk about their life a little bit and the things that are meaningful for them. We get together. We have retreats, we have ongoing dinners and meetings. It's about building a real relationship. If you really learn the art of building a relationship, there is something to it that creates this connection that makes people more loyal, and that doesn't mean everyone's gonna stick. People leave, but we have employees that have been with us for 10 years.

Natasha Miller:

That's amazing. So the last thing I wanna talk to you about is, as a marketer with a marketing business and you're really into LinkedIn, what are you doing for the next 12 months? And let's think of like what you'll do in January and what you'll focus on as your number one strategy for growth in the coming year.

Joe Apfelbaum:

In the coming year, my number one strategy for growth is being more strategic, like really doubling down even myself, the person who preaches strategy sometimes can get lost in the wis, and I have to create my own strategy. That's why from December 15th to December 25th, I'm not scheduling any meetings and I'm focusing on strategy for 2023. I know exactly what I wanna achieve, how many clients I want in each vertical. We're targeting the AEC space, the Architecture, Engineering and Construction Space, and our outgoing campaigns for 2023. And I know that less is more. Sometimes I like to go wide because I have such a vast network, tens of thousands of people that watch me online. But I need to go deeper with certain companies and certain industries and certain people and certain ideas. So instead of me reading 52 books, I'm gonna go deep on maybe four books. And I'm gonna still skim other books, but really get to know books. Like this year I went really deep on a book called Hundred Million Dollar Offer by Alexander Hormozi.

Natasha Miller:

Alex. Yep. I've got it too.

Joe Apfelbaum:

And I went deep on that book. I read it several times, and then I created a presentation and I did a series of LinkedIn lives about the book. And on top of that, I did a 45 minute presentation for my own team. I have 33 slides that I created, and my team's mind were blown. They were like, we need another 45 minute presentation. And we did it again. To kind of just review all the ideas and get into deeper on the bonuses. So I just wanna let you know that it's not about going wide always. It's about going deeper. And for me in 2023, it's, I'm gonna be going deeper.

Natasha Miller:

For more information, go to the show notes where you're listening to this podcast. Wanna know more about me, go to my website OfficialNatashaMiller.com. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you loved the show. If you did, please subscribe. Also, if you haven't done so yet, please leave a review where you're listening to this podcast now. I'm Natasha Miller and you've been listening to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.

Joe ApfelbaumProfile Photo

Joe Apfelbaum

CEO

Joe Apfelbaum is the CEO of Ajax Union, a B2B digital marketing agency based in Brooklyn, NY. Joe is a business strategist, marketing expert, and certified Google trainer. Joe is the author of his new book, High Energy Networking, How to get anything you want in business and in life by building meaningful relationships. When he is not Mojovating entrepreneurs at events and on LinkedIn he enjoys his time in Brooklyn with his 5 kids.