Strategies for Business Growth Through Content Marketing
In episode 83 of Pit Stops to Podium, we sit down with Andrew Gazdecki, the CEO and founder of Acquire.com, an online marketplace facilitating the buying and selling of small businesses. With extensive experience as an entrepreneur in the technology and startup industry, Andrew is recognized for his expertise in streamlining the acquisition and sale process of businesses, particularly in the technology sector.
Andrew shares his insights on how to effectively grow your business by leveraging content marketing techniques. He highlights the importance of tailoring your content to appeal to sellers, not just buyers, and provides valuable advice on how to supercharge audience growth and engagement through targeted content creation. Join us as we delve into Andrew Gazdecki's expertise and gain practical tips on utilizing content marketing to fuel business growth, establish a strong online presence, and engage with your audience effectively.
If you’re ready to learn from one of the best, then buckle up and hold on!
Leveraging Content Marketing for Business Growth
For startups, they should think like a media company and have a podcast, a blog with high quality content, and post on social media regularly.
When it comes to competition, don't think about how you compare with your direct competitors, but rather think about competing for customer attention. This attention needs to earned, not bought.
If you can hit on all the stages in the buyers journey (Awareness, Evaluation, Decision, etc...), then you can help move them down the funnel.
Why Do Companies Struggle to Make the Pivot Towards Content Marketing?
It's hard to track direct attribution, especially in marketing.
Also, it's a longer term investment as you won't be seeing immediate results.
"I think a lot of companies maybe avoid it for short term performance, rather than thinking about long term performance."
How to Drive Brand Expansion, Engagement, and Demand Creation
To stand out, companies need to stand for something.
Driving brand affinity really just comes down to caring for your customers.
"When you stand for something, not everyone will agree with it...the ones that embrace it will turn into fans of your company rather than just followers on Twitter."
Connect with Andrew
Brendan: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Pit Stops to Podium, the RevPartners podcast, where we talk to execs who have competed and won in taking their companies from high growth to high scale. My name is Brendan Tolleson. I serve as the co-founder and CEO of RevPartners. And I'm delighted to have with me today, Andrew Gazdecki, for this episode of Pit Stops to Podium. Welcome, Andrew.
Andrew: Thanks so much for having me.
Brendan: Yeah, well, we're excited to have you. For those that may not be familiar with who Andrew is, Andrew's a founder and CEO of acquire.com. And Andrew, as our audience gets to know you a little bit, I think one of the things we'd like to do is give you an opportunity to share a little bit more about who acquire.com is and really kind of the genesis or the origin story of the idea and why you decided to pursue it.
Andrew: Yeah. Um, good question. So acquire.com is, uh, I always kind of joke and say it's a marketplace for startups to buy startups. And, uh, really what we do is, uh, we help startups get acquired. So we work with, uh, generally bootstrap startups, SAS companies, e-commerce companies, and then on the buyer side, a lot of private equity firms, uh, venture backed businesses, public companies. And so, yeah, it's kind of like Zillow for M&A, is maybe a short description.
Brendan: I love the idea. What inspired you to pursue it?
Andrew: So I've been an insurer my whole life. I was that kid selling baseball cards when everyone was collecting them. And I started a business when I was in college. And fun fact, I went to college knowing I did not wanna get a job. So I graduated with a 2.07 GPA. I literally did, I learned how to do as little as possible to just get the degree. And I used that four years to figure out how to start a business. And I did this thing every summer where I'd start a business. I eventually started a business called Business Apps, short, Biz Apps. And what it was essentially the first no code, drag and drop, do yourself a mobile app builder for small businesses. And I scaled that business to about 10 million in annual green revenue. And, uh, actually exited the business when I was 29 to, uh, private equity buyer. And that was kind of the first sort of thought of, you know, Hey, acquisitions are super hard to. like, and also just mysterious in a way. I think a lot of founders think, you know, Google shows up with a big check and they're like, Hey, he got acquired. Good job. But you have to really sell your business. And so when I, when, when business house was acquired, I got a number of texts and emails and calls from friends, like what was due diligence, what was legal? Um, how did you find the buyer? And so I just noticed you know, there's a real big gap in the market. There's books on marketing, there's books on sales, there's books on product development, books, thousand books on fundraising, but maybe like two on how to actually sell your business, which is arguably the most important part of the founder's journey to exit. So I just saw this big fragmented market, low NPS, no innovation really ever. And... I thought it'd be really interesting to consolidate that, to make things easier. Just even the simple things like finding it, finding a buyer can be really hard for a startup and, uh, acquired a comic set really easy for startups.
Brendan: Yeah, that's really fascinating. I mean, I think to your point, it's interesting to see how kind of your passion for entrepreneurship, your experience, and just the gaps you saw in the market ultimately informed, you know, pursuing this because you clearly understand and know the need based off your experience. And, you know, I think for those two, just listening to you that may, you know, you've also sat in a seat from a revenue perspective, you know, with like the I think it was CRO at SPIF, right, who as of this recording just launched what a 50 million dollar raise.
Andrew: Yeah, so there's a funny story behind that. That was after my second acquisition. So when I was in due diligence with business apps, for some reason I decided to start a crypto protocol company. We were trying to speed up times on the Ethereum blockchain. It's still slow, so we didn't succeed, but we sold that company to a strategic buyer. And after that, I just didn't have any ideas. And so I was just, uh, advising startups, uh, playing a lot of Madden, like fun fact, I was, um, one of the top 100 players, but my wife was like, what are you what are you doing? Like you need and I like didn't want to start another company because you got a kind of chew glass and get the product market fit. I didn't really have any good ideas. I had an inkling about you know, acquire.com previously micro acquire. But Uh, as I was advising, um, different startups, mostly for free, I was talking to the chief product officer and the CEO at SPIF just, I think they were like 15 people and then, um, what made me jump into that company was I heard one sales call and I was just said, Hey, can I, can I help? Um, and I came in, uh, They had just let their previous hero go, sticky notes everywhere, nothing in a CRM, helped them build out their initial sales process, closed a number of their logo customers. Because I understood the problem. I used their competitor's name exactly. And there's also Caledas Cloud. And so at business apps, to give people a little bit more color on this, uh, SPF automates, uh, commissions for sales teams. So you have these big spreadsheets. A lot of companies have really complicated sales comp plans and there's big clunky companies like exactly in Caledas cloud. And SPF just had this beautiful solution. As soon as I saw it, I was like, this is huge. We hated it. Exactly. We actually paid for it and stopped using it. Um, So I was there for about 10 months. Once they raised their series, I left and then started working on acquire.com.
Brendan: That's great. Yeah, it's exciting to see that news. And I'm sure that was something you were proud of. And we had AJ Bruno, if you're familiar with QuotaPath, and that's still in our category on a previous podcast. So it's crazy how many people still use spreadsheets for that solution. And it's exciting to see how that category has evolved with the exactly Well, let's so you know, generally we go into Andrew, some of the personal fun facts, but I think you've already given us some good ones in terms of the gaming side. And you mentioned a little bit in terms of always having this passion for entrepreneurship, even during college. You know, I think for Friday, you mentioned you're married, any kids or what do you and your spouse like to do for fun?
Andrew: Uh, I mean, we always, we always try to go. I, so one thing I do, you know, when you have, I have a three year old son, uh, married and a startup and you know, uh, you know, each, each one of those are, are just so important. And so I, uh, like right when this podcast ends, I'm going to go to lunch with my wife, um, weekends are for the boy. I'm always hanging out with him. He loves, he loves to garden and paint. Uh, really nothing too fancy. We don't play pickleball or anything like that. Um, I know, I know everyone's playing that right now, but, uh, we're, we're pretty simple people.
Brendan: I appreciate that. You have your part. It sounds like the priorities are in the right place in creating space and rhythms for both work and family. And yes, guilty as charged. My wife and I play pickleball for a little day-date most weeks, which has been a lot of fun. And we're trying to get our kids into a little bit more and more so that we can play more, which would be nice.
Andrew: Yeah, me and my wife saying I'll only say this on this podcast. Um, we'll, we'll always find like some sort of show to watch right now. We're watching better call Saul. Um, but sometimes I'll get roped in watching the Bachelor and, uh, you know, guilty pleasure, Hey, you know, I love the drama.
Brendan: Well, you may like I just saw there's a show on Netflix that you may be interested in because of Madden and baseball cards. It's like this. I can't remember I think a camera's name I should know because I've watched like four episodes. But it's a marketplace and they get collectors items and then sell it. And it's a fun and want to watch all these sports memorabilia that people are so interested in. Sell for a lot of money, which I never thought was possible.
Andrew: I haven't seen it, but I'll definitely check it out. I just watched the Nike story. That's a good one. If anyone needs something, good to watch.
Brendan: It's also, I don't know that one exactly, but I don't know if you've read his book, but it's a great book. Phil Knight's, I guess it's autobiography. It's a great story. Well, Andrew, let's pivot into the big idea and just, you know, giving your background both as an operator and then just as an entrepreneur and building acquire.com, there's so much we could talk about that would help our audiences, I think, through how to scale their business. And I know one of the areas that you've had experience in and have done really well is, you know, grow through content marketing. And so I'd love just to talk a little bit about that topic with our audience and getting your perspective. And I don't think the concept of content is anything new. But I guess more importantly, for those that are trying to dabble or trying to understand the benefit of it or why they should do it, maybe let's start there, just kind of contextual layer as to why invest in it. And we can talk about how they should. steps they can take in order to actually see benefit from it.
Andrew: Yeah, definitely. So from a high level, the way I think most startups should really think is like a media company. You should have a podcast. You should have a blog with really high quality content. You should be posting on social media regularly. You should be creating industry data reports because it's really easy to buy customer attention. I, and also very easy to copy that. So you have no defensible go to market when you're just doing paid ads and stuff like that. Um, cause I can just look at your paid ad campaign and just do all the same keywords, just a copy and, but when you have a moat in terms of, you know, you're ranking high on, uh, search engines, you know, you have a large audience on, uh, social platforms. Uh, large audience on say YouTube and TikTok. You know, when you release information about product updates, it goes so much farther. And I guess the way I think about, you know, why content is so important today is, there's really just the number of startups being built. Like there's like probably like five being started like now, like the second. So with that, but that kind of... Um, you know, perspective, you know, when we talk about companies like, you know, mine and choir.com or, um, your company or really any company, you probably can name like, you know, five direct competitors. But the way I think about competition is I'm not competing against those companies. I'm competing against customer attention. And so I'm always trying to figure out ways to earn customer attention rather than buy it. And that's why I always think. just a content strategy in terms of thinking like a media company. And there's a lot of different ways to do that, but, um, that's what, that's what people want to want to see today. They don't want to see ads. They don't want to see, um, you know, just crappy eBooks, where you got to enter your email to fill out a form to get it. And some sales rep cold calls you 10 times. Um, you know, there's a good book on on kind of on this topic, you know, sell the way you buy, where you really just help customers through every aspect of the journey to buying your product, to, you know, top of funnel all the way down to, because you have, you know, awareness decision evaluation or awareness evaluation decision. And I feel, I believe there's like two others in there, but, you know, if you can hit on all those, stages in your sellers or excuse me, your buyer's journey. I say seller a lot because at Acquire.com, we work with a lot of sellers selling their businesses. You can help move them down the funnel. And, you know, a good example of this is, you know, let's say you have a sales team and no one's heard of your company. You can get a huge, huge uplift in your cold email campaigns, in your cold calling campaigns. all of your outbound sales effort, if you start investing in content and creating a brand, so when people get that email or get that phone call, they've heard of you somewhat. Like there's a reason why Gong beat Chorus or why Outreach beat SalesLoft. And it's really, when I look at it, it comes down to the way they position their companies in the market, because their products essentially do the exact same thing. So technology is no longer. a defensible moat in my opinion. And so distribution really becomes a moat you want to focus on the most. And content is a big part of that.
Brendan: I wholeheartedly agree with that mindset of kind of thinking of it more from a media perspective, an idea of earning versus buying, at least being the priority. And you don't want to be sold to, you just want to, it's like how you want to experience it. And I think a lot, I mean, I think conceptually, a lot of people would agree with that, but practically very few do it. And why do you think that? Companies have a hard time making that pivot.
Andrew: Um, I mean, there's a number of different reasons. It's, it's hard to track, you know, direct attribution, especially in marketing, like the, my favorite way to track, you know, brand attribution is just how many people are searching your company name, um, within search engines, you know, but beyond that, it's hard to tie, you know, specific pieces of content that, you know, it's just harder to track, I think. And then also, um, more importantly, Um, it's a longer term investment. You aren't going to see immediate results month one. Once you start creating content for your customers, educating them on top of funnel or bottom of funnel, whatever it may be, it's going to take time. It's going to take, you know, cause you want to create a piece of content, distribute it as many times and as many places as you possibly can. So I think a lot of companies. maybe avoid it for short-term performance rather than thinking about long-term performance. Because once you get that engine running, it truly can become a very defensible moat, but it takes a lot of time. Any sort of moat takes a lot of time to build. And I think companies right now in particular are under pressure for, you know, we need revenue in today rather than thinking about You know, we need pipeline in, you know, six months from now that'll close in a year. So short-term thing is, is my best guess.
Brendan: Well, I like the idea you just alluded to a few times with that whole defensible moat concept where it's, there's actually this pivot going from technology more into the experience and with content distribution, the way it may, however you want to categorize that and using those examples of Kong and of outreach versus their competitors because, or even take like SPF or, or QuotaPath. I mean, a lot of it just comes into how that the experience is working. I think to your point, and then to your point, the the short-sightedness of like, hey, I'm being hired to drive results today. Not like, how do I create a two-year, three-year plan? But I think it gets into what you were describing as attribution, like understanding how to measure it creates clarity for that executive team. And so maybe it will be helpful for our audience too to be thinking through is, how do you expand that? So you mentioned like keyword searches for your brands one way, but what are like some hacks or cheat codes that- that you seem successful to how to get more followers, to get higher engagement. Is that through the people at the company, or are there other tactics that you would say, hey, this is ways in which you can really elevate the brand and to drive that, ultimately accelerate that demand creation and capture that people are looking for?
Andrew: I'd say the first thing, going back to Nike, I really believe that companies today to stand out need to stand for something. Nike doesn't sell shoes, they sell a lifestyle. They sell a goal, they sell an achievement, they sell progress, they celebrate their customers. I think when you start thinking like that in terms of your brand, that's where you can have some like real breakthroughs in terms of word of mouth spreading, taking customer success stories and celebrating them. And that could be something as simple as giving away swag or something like that when something awesome happens from a customer. Really just people know when you care about your customers. So in terms of how do you drive... brand affinity. I believe that was your question, right? Like how do you drive maximum brand affinity? It all comes down to just caring for your customer. And it's very obvious. Sometimes it could just be as simple as the CEO of the company answering support tickets once in a while, being close to the customer or being involved in some of the largest sales transactions or deals that are going down. And just show customers again that you care and that, you know, you're a company that stands for something and that people be known. So that also kind of ties into, um, storytelling. Like what is, like, why did you, like, you just asked me why I started my company. Um, you know, why is that important? Why should other people care? And the more you can get people to care and be excited about your business, like to kind of peel back on you a little bit more on, you know, acquire.com story and what we stand for. Um, You know, we, we believe that it's better to not raise venture capital, not try to build a billion dollar business because by statistics you have a 0.01% chance. And so we're supporting the other 99.9% of other businesses being built today. And now that leaves a huge void because there's not really a centralized place for those businesses to sell because if you're worth a billion dollars, you're working with an investment bank. And so we champion bootstrap startups compared to the ones that are raising a ton of money. You know, you raise, you know, series C that's, that's super cool. I'm really happy for you. Um, but you know, what we try to do at acquire.com is bring to light a different style of entrepreneurship, more practical and realistic version of entrepreneurship that, um, I think a lot more entrepreneurs would be successful with, and that also comes from my personal story, like with business apps. I. I bootstrapped that company. So when it was acquired, you know, you own the majority of the company and it's a better outcome for the founder. Um, so that's just one example of, you know, kind of standing for something like not everyone will agree with it. Not everyone will, you know, embrace that and that's okay. You need to, you know, have an opinion on something. Um, and you know, some people will really embrace that others won't. And the ones that do embrace it will turn into. you know, ultimately fans of your company rather than just followers on Twitter or something like that.
Brendan: Yeah, I really like that in terms of. Yeah, there's a lot to unpack there. And I appreciate you sharing a little bit about it from an acquire.com perspective. Like from our RP story is, like I lost, it starts at, I tell every new hire, like our, the origin story of RP is actually, I went out of brokenness. Like I lost my job the first week of COVID because everything shut down and the CEO of the company I was working for decided he wanted to cut costs because he didn't know what was gonna happen. And so it's like, that's, I- my like, what do I stand for is like, how do we pursue excellence without minimizing care for people? And like this whole concept of unlocking late potential for human flourishing is what we talk a lot about. Like six, like sharing success stories and seeing our people thrive is something that I really, really am passionate about. And when you talk about care, it's interesting, because, you know, Horst Schultz, he who's been on the podcast and was, you know, the CEO of the for customer satisfaction is not something that's quantifiable. It's actually, it's the question, do you care about me? And so it's a lot of what you're describing is, how do you make sure that your customers understand that you care about them? Because that's ultimately what's going to create that affinity and drive, to your point, not just followers, but really people that are fans of the business that are going to promote it to the people that they know or externally. So I definitely resonate with that concept.
Andrew: Yeah, funny enough, we actually talk about Ritz-Carlton quite a bit at our company in terms of providing Ritz-Carlton experience where we know our customers, we know them by name, we know how many times they've written into our support center, how many times they've called because we deal with frequent buyers and we deal with frequent sellers as well. But again, that's another way to compete today is just having Like be the Zappos of your industry, you know, be, have the best customer sport, have phone sport, have email responses within, you know, SLAs of like at least an hour at the most have live chat, like those things really again, show customers that you care and you want to help them.
Brendan: Yeah, it's like, it's almost like just go the extra mile. This is one of the things that like Chick-fil-A talks about. And I think that's really, really important to just how you think about your people and ultimately who you serve. Um, well, I enjoy, I really enjoy, I could keep talking for a really long time. Um, but so I really appreciate your, your perspective on, you know, how how to think about content to ultimately drive brand affinity. I think it's a good way to kind of capture that big idea from today. If our audience wants to get to learn a little bit more about acquire.com or learn a little bit more about you or get in touch, what's the next step they can take?
Andrew: Yeah. Thanks for having me on the podcast and, um, you can go to acquire.com learn about, um, what we do if you're interested in, you know, potentially buying a company or selling a startup, and then if you want to, uh, get ahold of me, I'm pretty easy to find on Twitter at agazdecki, um, LinkedIn Andrew Gazdecki. If you can spell that.
Brendan: Well, hopefully I said it right at the beginning of the podcast. All
Andrew: Yeah, you did. You did a great job.
Brendan: Well, hey, thanks for coming on. Enjoy time I think with your wife, I think you said right after this podcast, maybe grab some lunch. We really do appreciate it. Thanks so much, and let's stay in touch.
Andrew: Yeah, sounds good. Had a blast. Thanks for having me.
Brendan: Alright, I'll talk to you later.