Growing Businesses Back to Back with Kaihatsu Media’s Ryan Sprance
Kaihatsu: to develop or create new technology.
Ryan Sprance is the Founder and Chief Strategist of Kaihatsu Media.
Kaihatsu Media specializes in developing your brand, presence and reputation online. They are a full service Digital Marketing agency focused on developing brand awareness and sales growth through social media, optimizing digital marketing spending and developing influencer marketing programs.
Learn more about how Kaihatsu Media can develop your marketing strategy by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.
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Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, founder and CEO of UpMyInfluence.com. We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. stick around to the end of the show, where I'll reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go. Ryan Sprance. You are the Founder and Chief Strategist at Kaihatsu Media, and you're the producer of the Social Movement, which we'll talk about, as well. You are also Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Awestruck, so there's three different things we got to get to in around 15 minutes time. So here we go. First off, kind of start off maybe talk about how you went from corporate America. To founding Kaihatsu, and then spoiler alert, how you were able to scale that agency to knocking on the doors, seven figures now, are you you will hit seven figures this year. And you basically done that in. Its I think, if I'm looking at the timeline just over a year really, of when you really started hustling. So obviously, I think there's a there's a lot to learn here.
Sure. Great. Well, thanks for having me. Yeah. Yeah. So absolutely. I'll start I'll start with with corporate America, I spent, you know, little over 20 years in corporate America, you know, started out in retail and, and work my way up from, you know, a stock boy at the gap to, you know, where I've ran as many as 500 stores on the operation side for t mobile and, and I also work for Apple. So, you know, kind of working through corporate america and really always felt that, you know, that was the calling for me that I'd want to build my career in corporate America but you know, bank became increasingly frustrated with the lack of ability to be creative and to do things kind of outside the corporate model, I think, you know, for a while, I'd get a nice size team and my own business unit that I would run. And I would really try to focus on kind of building a culture within that. But ultimately, the culture is the culture of the company and not one that I've created. So I've always had a passion for entrepreneurship and, and really developing my own, you know, product lines and developing my own audiences. While working for Apple. I fell in love with the digital media space, there was a an app called Flipboard, which is still in existence. It was actually the very first app that was developed specifically for the iPad has, has very cool technology where, you know, when you flip a page, it looks like the page is actually flipping and the the concept behind that was that you'd put all your feeds into it and your social feeds and then you'd be able to go to one app every day and find all your information. Well as you know, Facebook and other platforms shut down the API, they had to get creative. So they offered the opportunity to sort of quote unquote, create your own magazine by curating content. And I did that with a men's magazine called the stylish man. And I honestly did not do it to gain an audience. I just did it for fun. And then realized that I started to gain an audience and then needed to kind of shift my mindset from I'm curating this for myself to I'm curating from an audience and build that, you know, over 52 million views. A friend of mine said, Hey, you, you what you do is very visual, you should focus a little bit on Instagram. So I poured myself into Instagram and spent 15 hours a day really trying to understand that platform, was really to be able to build an audience on two separate accounts of you know, over 100 and I think combined about 300,000 fans, and then figured, you know what, I need to do this again to another platform, and I did it with Pinterest to really understand what those algorithms look like. And, you know, we have about 2 million monthly viewers on Pinterest and I realized I had all of these media assets, and I was driving traffic to basically everyone but myself really understood that I needed a hub. So I, we created, you know, the stylish men com website. And as we're building that brands would, you know, pay me as a quote unquote, influencer, you know, to not only model product, but then also to kind of talk about the product on our site. But through those conversations, brands constantly would ask, you know, how do you build a following and how do you build an audience and I would give some tips and then I stopped giving tips and I said, you know, you hired me and I and I do it for you and kind of fell into like the consultant role. And, you know, we landed our first client and I want to say march of 2016. For an influencer campaign, it was a sneaker company, they hired us for 5000 bucks to go out and find influencers and since we were already in the I was already in the men's space and had a lot of, you know, relationships with people. It was pretty turn key for me to go out and, you know, engage with those people. And then kind of went dormant for a while we did that project that went dormant. Got one social media client at $1,000. And then, you know, started to think, hey, maybe I want to do this a little bit more full time. And I was that a corporate job that paid very well that I absolutely hated. I had no passion for it. I had no passion for the people I work with and certainly for the product. So I really spent most of my brainpower thinking about my own projects and my own agency and had plans to quit my job at the end of May 2018. When lo and behold, the they found out that I actually had a another side hustle so to speak, and I was I was fired from my job. So it was probably the most interesting firing for them. Because I walked out of there all smiles and couldn't be happier is may 1 2018. It was a 72 degree day, the nicest day of the year I walked out, called the client went to a co working office space and never looked back and really started to focus 100% on kind of building my agency from that point. So that was May 1 of 2018.
Wow. Well, that's so then you have relationships. And so you then want to you have this experience of working with doing one influencer campaign. And so I guess, how do you say, Okay, I'm going to really make a go at this and kind of explain client acquisition, how you manage that. Because again, going from kind of zero to 60. He you know, at the level you are, that's definitely going to present some challenges. And, you know, I guess, how are you having all those conversations? What is your offer? How do you grow that?
Yeah, sure. So it went from initially just a, you know, hey, we'll manage your Instagram McCown because if something clearly we know how to do. It was like, we'll focus on developing and building your organic following and your content. And, you know, I was connected by a friend of mine from many years ago who actually is now my partner in the Austrian business who was also in the digital media space, but he was on a very different side of digital media than than the organic. He was on the, you know, Google ads and data harvesting side and, you know, he has reached out and said, Hey, we're actually going to pitch this this one particular resort. Would you like to join us they talked about needing some social support. So I kind of put it back together and went into that meeting and approached it, as you know, me sort of coming on board as a consultant. Got that one client, but then from that point, we really have no solid sales process. I mean, we've done went in and with the focus of doing very good work, and by doing that, you know, a couple things would have You know, we would get an additional, you know, resort or recommendation from somebody who were there, somebody who was worked at that resort would leave and go to work at another property, and then they would call us and bring us in. And it kind of started to grow from that point. But I think for me, the biggest distinction, right, is to in order to do this in order to scale in a way, like you need to scale is it I was originally approaching it as a one man sort of consultant operation that actually hate the word consultant. I don't know why I just think it's, I think it's significantly like less than what it is that we do. And I wanted to approach it as how do I build an a multifaceted agency where I'm not the person that has all the answers? And you know, for, you know, a few months, I tried to do everything myself, and I found myself, you know, up, you know, two, three o'clock in the morning trying to respond to comments on people's Facebook pages. And I said, you know, this is just the wrong way to go. So No, I brought on a full time person and then really had an opportunity to step back a little bit and say, one of the service offerings that are complimentary to what we do on social, how can I add additional people on the team and really take, you know, the funds that we're getting to invest it back. And then try to essentially sort of step out from the role of the actual Dewar to more of someone who leads, you know, the orchestra overall. So, for me, it was about really trying to invest in people you know, we've added, you know, Director of Operations, a creative director, a head of web development, a chief operating officer, we've added people that are talented, and that can step in and kind of pull some of these projects and, and they're really sort of approaching it as you know, what if, like, you know, why do I have to stay in this sort of small mindset. as a consultant, you can never really go on vacation, you know, you can't really get sick or any of those things for chewy time available. So I wanted to build something more sustainable, that has Much more legs and then potentially be an acquisition target at some point down the road.
Yeah. How do you make those connections with potential clients?
So I, you know, I would say, I've been fortunate enough to, to be referred, but then once were referred, my approach to every single pitch really comes down to, and it sounds, the sounds rude, but it's not the approaches, I go in knowing that I actually don't need the business. And if I approach it that way, I'm 100% more honest which with where they are and where they need to be. And I'm okay to sit in front of a chairman of a company and say, your social media is terrible, and your paid ads strategy is weak. And we and here's how and, and I think, you know, when you try to go into two business meetings and you try to get the business I think most people don't have that sort of mindset. So If I approach everyone like that, where it's like, Hey, I, it's not going to make or break my day, you know, you're not going to spoil my day if I don't get get the work, I come across, you know, much more authentic and really give them some strategies that they need. Now, I
have experienced in my life where you go in and and you don't I mean, it's, it's hard at the beginning if you truly do need the business, but it's such it is really such a huge shift when I remember one client particular we got, you know, ended up being 30 $40,000 client and, you know, I got the client because I posted on social media, I have no room for more clients. And he responded to that. Wait a minute, I didn't even know you know, I didn't even know what you did you do this and you're not taking clients. Can you take me? I said, I don't know. You know, we're left to chat but I am so maxed out right now, but we could chat. Yes. So
we've we've taken on, don't get me wrong in the early stages, I took on the most ridiculous clients like I mean, we had some of the craziest projects, I'm embarrassed to even tell you some of the things that we took on, and you try to crowbar yourself into it and say, here's what we can do. We can do that. Yeah, we could do that. And I think the other big distinction for people out there listening, that sort of want to scale up businesses, and as you go from the consultant mindset, to the agency mindset of how do I scale it a bigger way? Everyone always struggles with price, what do I charge what I charge right like that? I don't want to charge too much, because if I charge too much, then they won't sign me on. But if I charge too little, then I won't like doing the work. And I think the big distinction in your brain has to be the type of clients you go after you have to go after the clients that can afford your service and will benefit from your service. And I think very early on, I went after clients that were quote unquote, you know, emerging brands, which is which is code for Poor, you know, if it means the person is going to pay me monthly, or they're going to make their mortgage payment, because they're making leather wallets in the garage, I actually don't want that level of pressure. You know, I would much rather go after the bigger clients that understand that they need help in this space, right, the, you know, six or $9,000 that a month that they pay you as retainer is not a make or break amount of money. I think that's really a sweet spot. And then once you kind of make that jump in your head, it's a lot easier to have those conversations and be confident about the price that you charge.
Well, and then certainly a brand at that size. $69,000 monthly. I mean, that's that's a big difference than in emerging brands getting here six to $9,000. And they're probably going to see, like, Okay, I'm in the wrong room. You're that level.
Yes. Yeah. And you and you know, if you, it depends on what you who you want to be and I've approached this as I want to be a world class. SaaS provider of the service, so I don't have a rate card, you know, people instead of, hey, send me a rate card and no, yeah, the way we approach it is we have a discovery session. Let's see, are you the right client for us? what it is that you need? And then from there, we'll we'll back into what is the appropriate services? And what would that cost if you work with us and so that's, that's, that's a big change as well as you try to scale.
You know, Ryan, as I look at your social media, your Instagram is just absolutely incredible. And I, you know, I feel like like, we've got about 15,000 followers on social or on Instagram. It's, it's not been one, I just don't feel like we've gotten into the right groove on our own Instagram for up my influence. And I feel like I don't know if we need to, you know, we need to really just hone in on a theme or, you know, I just, I feel like we're just kind of sharing the same, you know, or we're sharing inspirational images. I don't know. I just, I feel Like, I could use some help. What would you recommend? If you were me? You know, obviously, you know, we're teaching a lot about authority and influence. And, you know, we have a platform where we want to serve a big audience generally, you know, we're serving, you know, a smaller client, you know, they're wanting to get up to six figures, or their six figures and beyond. So, what would you do if you were me?
Yeah. So I think the biggest thing with Instagram is that you really need to be able to put people put yourself in a position where people can discover you, I think what most people do is they create content and just hope that people are going to come to them, it's like opening the most beautiful hotel in the world, you know, in a desert. You know, if no one knows it's there, it doesn't matter how beautiful it is, no one's going to come. So, you know, I the real strategy in today and it gets more challenging every day, right? Because the organic reach is dropping, and it's dropping. You know, I as a, you know, that's it. That's the Typical when it comes to sort of a Facebook company, they let you build up that audience, then they started the whole back so that you you start to spend more money. And that's how they, you know, they drive the revenue. But but really putting yourself in a situation where people can discover you. So it's not only using hashtags, but spending time actually go out and engaging with other people that are following pages that are similar to yours. You know, we look at you know, another another brand that you're like, Hey, this is our sort of aspirational point, we want to get to, let's say, it's somebody who does what you do, but they're in the 2 million follower mark. You know, if you read through their comments, and they've got 400 comments, and you start engaging authentically with those people, and giving them advice, you have a much better chance at people going well, who is this guy? let me pop over and take a look and start to follow you. But that's an investment. That's an investment in time and it's an investment in resources. And, you know, you really have to look at you know, what your overall strategy is, I will say that Instagram is a very solid strategy. I know certainly, if you Over 10,000 followers. Now you can use the swipe up to drive people to your hub. You know, there's so there's a lots of things you can do. But I think the the simplest term and a time that we have here is really to be able to, you know, create more authentic conversations with people in that niche by going out and engaging. So, but just by doing that you're showing people that you exist.
Great. So tell me about the work now that you are doing with awestruck, which is your your newest project.
Yeah. So, Awestruck is a combined agency. We call it a merger of talents between two companies, Kaihatsu Media, and to one to group two and two group is founded by two gentlemen, Dave Marcy, who I worked with 20 years ago at World Wrestling Entertainment, which is actually for Wrestling Federation at the time. Yeah. And that, as we call East Collins, who has spent a lot of time in The media buying and digital spaces and the work that they do on the data harvesting side and the paid Google side is like nothing we've ever seen before. And we actually partner with them on several clients and any anywhere we do the social, organic and the social paid, and they do the data harvesting and display in Google, we see a significantly better return on ad spend just because they know how to drive quality traffic. And through the constant partnerships, we realized that if you look at all of the services we offer, combined, we from soup to nuts, it's everything from web development all the way through, you know the conversion phase. We've got a great opportunity to provide brands, specifically in the travel, tourism, hospitality and entertainment space with a complete product and really helping brands develop a very solid digital footprint. So You know that we're really excited about the project. You know, they've got, you know, about nine people on their team and I've got about the same. So we're really merging those two talents together to provide an unbelievable unprecedented digital experience for our clients.
Amazing. Great. Well, Ryan, what would be your biggest advice to other agencies? That, you know, they're, that they're doing? Okay. But they really want to hit that next level. Is it? Is it a mindset? Is it an operations? a, you know, pursuit or what would you advise
is i i think that the most interesting thing that I I learned in the last year and a half is just about sort of staffing, right. Most people don't admit they need help in until it's too late and the by the time an entrepreneur admitted They need help, you know, they're at the risk of losing everything. And that is sort of a real statement that I even even recall myself in that position where I hired someone, and then didn't give them any work. And they're like, you got to give me something to do. And I'm like, Well, I have to do this, or I have to do that. And the reality is, is you really don't and I think, if you can make that investment early on, from from an operational perspective, to try to get out from the doing and the day to day and start to focus more on client acquisition, and whether that's through more conversations, it's through creating content, which you can then share where more people will see that content like your LinkedIn posts about not taking more clients. I think that's an important piece for people make that mental shift to go from I'm a consultant, you know, to I'm a full service agency that provides and even a full service means I do one thing and that one thing is you know, we help people build podcasts or something, whatever it is that it is for you just try to get step out of the Today as much as you can, so you can focus more on that growth aspect is that that's the the one piece of advice. It's a one on one largest piece of advice I'd have. Yeah.
Well, Ryan Sprance, you're the Founder and Chief Strategist at Kaihatsu Media and that is on the web and it could you spell that for us?
Sure is kaihatsumedia.com. Kaihatsu means develop in Japanese actually, when I worked for Apple, Apple has this unique program where they hire about 200 people a year of you know, their kids right out of college. But you know, from the best schools in the world, they get about 60,000 applications and they select about 200 of them, and they put them through this leadership program that last two years and at the end of two years, you know, they they give them they offer them a position as a leader within Apple, and so it's a really prestigious program. I had the unique good fortune of running that program for New York. And when I did I was trying to find a way to kind of pull content together to the iPad, whether it was like Ted Talks or all other things that were educational. And at the time, I had a, you know, an assistant that that spoke Japanese and I started to think about, you know, what's the culture in the world that has the highest standards when it comes to development and product? And it's the Japanese and I and I looked at her and said, hey, how do you say, you know, develop in Japanese? And she said, hatsue, I said, that's great. And I tried to pitch it to Apple to kind of take on this kite, how to program. It fell flat. When they never liked it. Tim Cook never liked it. So when it came time for me to name my company, I dusted it off because it makes so much sense. Because we develop relationships and partnerships and
brands or Ryan Sprance. Again, thank you so much, again, Founder and Chief Strategist at Kaihatsu, Co-Founder of Awestruck, you're involved, we didn't even get we run out of time when you're involved in a in a program that's going to be appearing on Amazon Prime called the Social Movement. So I would imagine if folks follow you on social media Yeah, I'm sure you'll clue him in on when that publishes when that goes live. Yes, for sure. Awesome. Ryan, thank you so much. Thank you.
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