Deciding to become an entrepreneur is a whole new ball game. For some, the way we used to live our lives may seem to not have given us the advantage for a good start. The same goes with Manuel Suarez who never thought about being a success. Fast-forward to now, he has become one of the leaders in the digital marketing space with his agency, Attention Grabbing Media. Manuel inspires us with his entrepreneurial journey and shares some great insights on starting out in the entrepreneurial world and social media marketing. He also talks about how to build a rock star team to help you win in the social media game.
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I’m here with a very special guest, Manuel Suarez. How are you doing?
Fantastic. I’m very glad to be here, Nathan. Thank you for bringing me in.
No problem. We originally connected through Ben Cummings who’s a big referral partner for FreeeUp. For those of you that don’t know, Manuel started a business launching his own brand and within a year, this was a few years ago, it was a multimillion–dollar company and he sold it a few months later. He helped his father take his own company from $2 million in revenue to $40 million in revenue in just four years. After this, he started taking on clients. He took his first client from $800,000 a month sales to over $3 million in a few months and has helped generate over half–a–billion views across different channels and millions of followers. Since then, he started his own agency, Attention Grabbing Media, inspired by Ben Cummings and now created his own course on Facebook marketing. You’re one of the leaders in the digital marketing space and we’re excited to have you and we’re going to talk about all of that. First, I want to take a gigantic step back and talk about growing up. Were you a straight–A student? Were you a rebel? Did you graduate from college? Walk us through that a little bit.
It’s funny that you asked that Nathan, because in my case, I grew up thinking that I was going to be a failure in my whole life. I grew up thinking that there was no hope for me. Why did I think like that? I already know why. I thought about this for a long time. Why did I consider myself that I was meant to not succeed in life? The main thing about that was that the system, including my own mom, made me feel that I was not going to make it because I was not into school. I was not into going through the education. I was not interested in learning about details of how many presidents we’ve had and who was the 41st one and how many galaxies exist. None of that stuff was something that I was passionate about. I had all these students. I guess that internally I felt that I had some intelligence, some IQ, but I didn’t believe in any of my abilities because you are measured by how successful you are in class. That’s what determined your success. You are measured by your university that you were selected for.
For me that was a big deal because I did go in a different direction. I did go into drugs and girls and things that were very destructive along the way. In combination with me being in school like, “I’m so bored with this whole thing, let me go and have some fun.” Looking at all my friends, straight–As and they were doing great in school and they were flourishing. I’m like, “I guess they’re going to make money. They’re going to be the ones with the BMWs and the big houses and I’ll just somehow survive.” Maybe one day my dad will make enough money that I inherit something. That’s the viewpoint that I had.
As I was growing up, I didn’t know that I was going to be successful until not that long ago. That’s the reality. My story is quite long. We don’t have time for that. I built myself up from bankruptcy after the economic collapse in 2007 in the United States without a degree, without a certificate on the wall, none of that. It’s a story of survival and a story of understanding that we had a different world. By doing that, I was able to obsess about different opportunities and understand them. Some of you guys that are reading this might’ve seen my content in social media or the Facebook advertising ninja, etc. It’s because I obsessed about it and I started learning about it and I became a good student. Believe it or not, it was crazy because I’m not supposed to be a good student. I became a good student. Nobody else out there was studying more than me in this subject. That’s for sure.
Let’s talk about being a good student and studying. You started from scratch. Let’s say you didn’t know anything about marketing, anything about Facebook ads. How did you even begin? Was it some trial and error? Were you watching lots of videos and taking notes? What does that process look like?
I was hungry. I don’t know if a lot of you can relate to this probably. In my case, having a 9 to 5 and then suddenly being fired and then suddenly getting another job. My salary was cut in half just because the economy was not doing well. I’m looking at my environment, I said, “It‘s no longer about me.” I had now three children. I had a baby, a two-year-old and a four-year-old and I knew I had to do something about it. I was not doing well in life. My wife and I, we cannot take a vacation. If my mom got sick, I couldn’t help her. For me, it was all about necessity. “I have a necessity. What can I do with my life?”
It all started with an observation. I have a necessity. I look around and I said, “I’ve got to do something.” I’m here. I have a cell phone, I’m paying the bill, which is about $60 a month at that point. It’s painful, $60 a month, but I’ve got to pay it. I remember being in bed getting one of my kids to go to sleep. I was playing Temple Run. I was playing that game and I suddenly realized for some reason, I don’t know why. There are these crucial moments in life in which you have an epiphany or something changes in your universe. Who knows why that happens? Some people might call that illumination from God. Some people might call it, I don’t know, you see your future or whatever it is.[bctt tweet=”Unless you change your mindset, nothing else happens.” via=”no”]
At that moment I said, “Why am I wasting my time with this when I cannot even go on a trip for the weekend or I cannot go to the movies and I feel uncomfortable about spending $20? Why am I doing this?” For me, that was how things started to turn around. I’m going to say this was about 2012. A little bit earlier than that, I already had a few attempts at finding something that I was successful at. After the actual stock market crash, the economy collapsed, I learned about the stock market. It didn’t match with my personality because the stock market is up and down. It’s not something that you can control. I didn’t do well with that. That also led into me getting with two partners and then we had a failed attempt at flipping a property. We invested $5,000.
Now, it will be like hundreds of thousands of dollars. We ended up making a huge mistake because we bought a house in a place that technically was a ghetto. Literally in the corner there was a drug point and nobody bought the house. We flipped it, we made the house look beautiful. Nobody bought it. We had to lose it. It was another failure. We went back to the same routine of wasting time. At that moment in 2012, I think that’s when I said, “That’s it. No more waste of time.” It all starts with that viewpoint and entrepreneurship. As you probably know, unless you don’t change your mindset, whatever viewpoints you have ingrained that are not helping you succeed in life, unless you don’t change those, nothing else happens.
That’s the first and foremost thing that you have to be like, “Okay, good.” I control my own destiny. That’s a reality. If I want to do well in life, it’s because I’m going to go and create a better life. It’s not going to be made better by somebody else. Having Donald Trump become the president will not make my life better directly. It might not. If you’re a Donald Trump believer, maybe you understand that in the future economy might improve, but your own financial life, your own family, your own business, everything about you doesn’t depend on economic factors directly. You are going to create that.
The moment that you realize that it’s not the economy, it’s not the president, it’s not the government, it’s not my neighbor, it’s not any of these people around, that’s the moment that things can start switching because now you hold the reins to your future. For me, that was the moment. I started learning. The next day I went into a systematic path of learning something new. Every single day I looked at what can I learn now that is going to help me get a little bit closer to it? I started observing and whenever I went around to a restaurant, to a party, to the neighbor’s house, to anywhere, I was looking at what was happening and I saw people that were actively using their cell phones. That people were consuming content in different fashions and that Facebook was becoming a big deal. That’s how it all started for me.
This was already at some point in early 2014. I already had learned quite a bit about Facebook. Somebody talked to me about the Amazon opportunity and I said, “Amazon is not the one selling products? You can sell your own stuff?” That was a big wake up call. I said, “How about if I figured out how to use the power of unlimited traffic?” It’s 2.38 billion people using the family of apps of Facebook to manipulate my Amazon brands. I started using that for my Amazon brand and it was a big deal. My launching strategies, it’s funny because that has become the most valuable launching strategy, which was using social media. My launching strategies, back since 2014, were using Facebook advertising at that point, not even Instagram. Instagram was not even a marketing platform yet at that point.
I got obsessed about it and that led into every single day I figured out how to learn something new. One day after the other, what can I learn? The Facebook business manager, I can create an ad right here. I press a couple of buttons. The boost button doesn’t do its job as good as you would do it. I started every single day getting better at that world and understanding the opportunities and also understanding that they change every single week, every single year. You’ve got to stay in up to date. Having a certificate on the wall is never going to be enough for you to be able to succeed in this world that we have in front of us.
You have three kids, you have a responsibility, you’ve had this knowledge now and you want to become an entrepreneur. I think that that first year is where a lot of entrepreneurs struggle. There are constant problems. There are things you have to start up. The thought of being an entrepreneur, it’s a whole new ball game. Can you talk about that first year of being out on your own, starting your own business and the ups and downs that you had?
It’s funny because at the beginning, the whole mindset of entrepreneurship does change along the way. At the beginning of my entrepreneurship career, all I cared about was being able to have a better quality of life, have a little bit of freedom, be able to enjoy something that I want to do in life, not have to do the things that I don’t want to do. Start working in places work in places that I want to work at. My first year was all about that. How can I make a little bit of money? I didn’t think about what I have now. I wouldn’t have even dreamed about in my wildest dreams having a company of 57 people, having all these things going on, having freelancers, virtual assistants and all these people that are helping me with my enormous amount of projects.
At that point, when I started in that first year, I didn’t even think about any of that stuff. I was not born an entrepreneur. I was not somehow gifted in the world of entrepreneurship. I became an entrepreneur by every single day learning something new. At the beginning of my process, it was all about a combination of learning and implementing. I found a couple of people that I trusted that I wanted to learn from. Some of you might know. You know Nathan well and Ben Cummings. He was one of my first mentors in 2014 on the Amazon world. I learned every single day about the Amazon world. I grabbed that information and I created listings and I optimized and I did ranking.
On the Facebook side of things, it was so new that imagine still now, people don’t even understand that you can advertise on it. We take it for granted, but a lot of people don’t even understand how it all works. One thing that I noticed, because I do a lot of seminars, is that still now, people that are retail owners, retail businesses, brick and mortars services, they have this weird idea that Facebook is meant for eCommerce only. That’s all Instagram is, “I wish I could advertise on Facebook, but I have a brick and mortar service and business and I‘ve got to do flyers and I’ve got to do postcards.” It’s incredible. Nowadays still, even though this platform has evolved so much and it‘s a monster now, people still don’t understand it. In 2014, the more that I look for information about how it all worked, the less I can find anything.
I learned some of the basic things on Facebook just by trial and error. I tested things out. At that point, the Facebook Business Manager, which a lot of you have set up, they didn’t even exist. It was launched in late 2014 when it became a public thing. People didn’t even know what it was. Still now, most people don’t even have it set up correctly or none of that stuff. In 2014, I had to do advertising from my own ad account and my personal account. It was all very weird, but it was at the same time mind–boggling that the fact that I can press a couple of buttons and look at it an hour later. I would say, “It’s already running. It has 7,000 impressions.” There was no middle man needed. There were no other complications. I created my own ad, I created my own images and off you went. Now you can reach the world just like that. It became something little by little I figured out. Now, we’re in a different spot. There’s education, Google, a lot of information, a lot of freelancers that are good in this world already. They can help you build your campaigns for you. Along the way you are able to get more results because you have help and you have information that I didn’t have when I started building my Facebook social media accounts back in 2014.
Who is your first hire and how did that go?
For me in 2014, I built the Amazon business and I started doing well. In early 2015 around May, we were doing about $300,000 in sales at that point. It‘s incredible. I was like, “$300,000 in sales. It’s already a $4 million company. Are you kidding me? What is this? What is happening?” At that point, it was just me and two partners. That was all. We were making some serious money at this point. Granted, we had a bed sheets business, a brand that was a very low-profit margin, but still it was a lot of money. I knew that at some point, I was trying to transition into being a full-time entrepreneur and quit my job because I didn’t need it anymore, that’s for sure. I knew that I was overwhelmed. I knew that if I want to grow my business, I need to get some help.
Particularly at that point, I knew that I was stuck and I reached out to some people. This is before I knew you. I hired a company that helped me find this individual person that I did a resume. I got a resume in front of this person. His name is Jay. The crazy thing is that he’s still with me. Out of all the people that have worked with me for the last few years, I have gotten people in and you know how it is. Not everybody fits into your business. Not everybody’s going to be efficient. We are all human beings. We’re all different. Some people are going to have a good wavelength, a good match with you. Some people will not match. You’re going to have to get rid of people, but along the way, you find these people that are rock stars.
Super rock stars that are able to help your business boom because they are good at what they do. Not only that, you help them get better along the way. There are people that are very talented out there. I brought this person in and for me, that was my greatest moment ever. I remember that day as if it was yesterday. Now, he’s one of my executives. I consider him an executive, even though he’s a freelancer. He feels like he’s part of the company. He’s doing projects, he’s managing the team. He’s doing activities and I’ve been able to build a team like that. Slowly one–by–one, hire five, get rid of four of them because they didn’t do good with our company. Hire another five and keep on going like that and get people to help you with the different projects.
One thing that I’d like to do is that once I find a good freelancer, I like to figure out how to keep them. Meaning that keep on hiring them over and over again for different projects. Build my circle around these guys that I know that I can rely on, that the job that I’m giving them helps them have a better quality of life. Now, I’m building this rock star team around me that I know is going to help my business go to the next level. It’s something that our ancestors never had an opportunity to have. We have the world at our reach. How many countries do you guys have, Nathan, on FreeeUp?
We’re about 40% US, 40% Philippines and that last 20% is scattered. It’s probably over 50 countries in that 20%.
That’s fantastic because when you think about it, like the Philippines people, these guys, I love them to death. They are honest and hardworking. Something I can tell you, anybody that is looking to hire people from the Philippines, when they tell you that they lost their power, they lost their power. It’s not an excuse of my cat ate the homework type of thing. These guys are amazing. They’re honest. The thing that’s happening with these people is that they are being bred since a young age to help the US because they know that’s where they can make a lot more money. They have good English, they have good skills. They become good at Facebook, at social media, at Amazon accounts, at creating content, graphic, designing and all that stuff.
These guys are built to be able to help companies like us. If you think about it, if you want to focus on bringing people in-house, it’s so expensive and it’s so difficult for you to be able to scale that because these guys are going to require a lot more money. When you hire like this, as freelancers, it’s so much easier to get your different projects assigned and be able to systematically grow your business. Your job as a creator, as a brand owner, as a business owner becomes making a list of all those things that you know somebody else can help you with. That’s where some people get lost. They have so many things. “I don’t know where to start.”[bctt tweet=”If you don’t know how to do marketing, you’re not going to have the right people help you do it right.” via=”no”]
You have to give direction. The freelancer is not going to come and tell you what to do. You have to hire a freelancer and tell them, “I want to create some content. These are some examples of the content that I want. Go ahead and get it done. Come back to me with the results.” Along the way, you’re going to find some people that do an incredible job and some people that don’t. It’s all part of the process and you have to go for the experience. I think Nathan does a good job of finding out which are the guys that are the best talent out there, but you’ve got to find the ones that you are passionate about. For example, Facebook advertising. I have Facebook training. I teach people how to do Facebook marketing. Some of the guys, what they do, I have as students and as clients people that are busy. They’re building businesses, they’re creating organizations, are managing staff, they’re creating brands, products, etc. They don’t have the time to sit down and consume a product or go through an entire training. My program is 190 lessons and 40 hours of content. It’s so difficult to ask somebody to sit down and watch the whole thing.
When you can hire somebody as a freelancer, “These lessons are going to help you understand how to run Facebook advertising. I want you to do these lessons and get some ads set up for me. Here you go. Get it going.” You can have a team like that. Facebook advertising, YouTube experts, Amazon optimizers, PPC experts, all that stuff. That’s the power of building a team and I think that that is the number one factor. I always talk about there are two main reasons why a company doesn’t expand. One of them is your recruiting process. Your staff, the people, you’re getting them to help you, your freelancers, your projects, your ability to delegate projects, number one. Number two, which is not less important, is your ability to market. If you don’t know how to do marketing, you’re not going to make it. The combination of having the right people to help you and doing the right marketing, that’s what makes a business boom overall.
I think that’s where a lot of people struggle is going from that sole entrepreneur where you can do everything. You can learn everything to now my primary responsibility is building a team, hiring freelancers or even working with agencies and getting the most out of them. Even the best freelancers in the world or the best agencies in the world aren’t the best fit for every single client out there. Part of it’s on you to know who do I work the best with? Who’s the right fit for me to put people in a position to succeed? Let’s transition a little bit. Marketing is changing. Building a brand is changing. What do you see that’s working that people should be aware of?
I did a video on this because I see that the number one reason for failure in the social media game is false expectations. Obviously, I have an agency. I have a lot of people come into my world and ask me for help. They come in and they say, “Manuel, I’m going to give you $1. I need you to give me $5 back next month.” If it were that easy, don’t you think a lot more people would be doing it? It’s not. Building a social media brand, having a following and creating a big impact is a process and it’s a long one. It’s no different than any people from the past. Parents, grandparents, building a business. It takes time.
The one thing about it is that it’s faster to accomplish certain results because we have the social media world, because we have companies like FreeeUp that have freelancers that can help you literally. You don’t have to be stuck at anything. That’s what I tell. Excuses are disappearing every single day. Do you want to create content? Do you know that you can hire somebody for that? Do you want to create articles? You can hire a copywriter. Do you want to do Facebook advertising? You can also hire that. Some of those guys are so affordable that it’s incredibly easy to get any action.
What you have to be as an entrepreneur that’s successful is have a leadership and have a, “This is what I’m going to do. I want to create a social media brand. I want to have an Instagram following. I want to do social media advertising. I want to build a powerful Shopify channel and an Amazon brand. I want to do this.” This is what I want to do. What are the steps to be able to accomplish each one? I’ve got to get this training and that training. I’m going to delegate that and get a freelancer. What am I going to do to grow an Amazon account? I’ve got to get an Amazon expert. Let me go ahead and delegate and find that. It’s not complicated once you realize the whole flow and the whole process. What I see above everything else is that the most important thing to win in the social media game is understanding that it’s a long haul and going for customer acquisition. Do not go for ROI. Do not go for return on ad spend. That is a sure recipe for disaster.
You go for generating more potential customers in your bucket. It’s like my analogy on this particular point, it’s very simple. If you’re a fisherman and your goal for that particular day is to catch as many humanly possible fish when you go out for the day, that’s what you want to do. That is your goal. If you have a map and you get presented with five different lakes and each lake has a different proportion of the amount of water, the exact dimensions of the lake in comparison with how many fish it has inside. Some of them are going to have more fish, some of them are going to have less fish, etc. What are you going to do? As a fisherman, you have to evaluate which one of these five lakes? I can only pick one. Which of these five lakes can I get the most fish? Which presents to me the greatest opportunity out there?
It’s very simple. In the social media game, outside of the Amazon world, social media, meaning Facebook, Instagram, Messenger. In that particular game, it’s all about lead generation even if you have to lose money. What happens in the back end after you generate those leads? Strategies to generate Messenger subscribers, strategies to generate an email list. When you do that, then you have to go heavy at your back end. What is the backend? Email marketing, Messenger marketing, re-targeting. If you focus on those three areas, then you become the fisherman that shows the lake with the bigger potential of catching fish.
Now, you have a lot of fish that you can catch. That’s how it works. It’s all about customer lead generation, acquisition so you can do your good job of getting these people into your sales funnel afterwards. In the social media game, people don’t trust your direct response if they haven’t seen you before. Generally, they don’t. What we’re doing here is we’re trying to build relationships with people. What you do is that you grab your Facebook advertising and your Instagram advertising and instead of trying to sell your stuff, don’t do that. Give them something of value, meaning that you can grab a freebie, a PDF, a document, a tutorial or a mini-course. I do this for some social media superstars.
I work for Dr. Eric Berg, three million subscribers on YouTube, 800,000 Messenger subscribers, 500,000 people on Facebook. What we do is that we’re always generating Messenger subscribers and email subscribers through our strategies by offering them something of value. That’s something of value can be a PDF, a tutorial or a do-it-yourself. It could be a mini-course. It could be something from your intellectual property, if you give it to them, it can make them better somehow. You do the ninja strategies that are going to help you find your audience so you can find that audience and scale that. You work on building your pond of fish so they can overflow with potential customers that you can sell to, because once they are in your funnel, you can sell them over and over again. Now, you get them to come to buy one thing that we are of serving is that when people come into the Messenger channel for Dr. Berg, we’re also doing it for Grant Cardone.
If you go to Grant Cardone’s Messenger channel, it’s all about education. It’s M.me/GrantCardoneFan. What do we do? We deliver mini-courses, we deliver eBooks that are free. We deliver content, education, and then once in a while we’re going to sell you stuff because we’re building a community of people that are educated. By doing that, they trust us. Since they trust us, whatever we offer them, we take precedence over somebody else in social media that is going for a direct sale without offering them value first. The social media strategy is a long game of offering value first. If you do that, you win. If you don’t, you’re going to be in the long list of people that have failed in the social media world.
Where can people find out more about you and what are you most excited about?
I would tell people to obsess about building communities, building Messenger channels. There’s a big push from Facebook to make Messenger channel. I don’t know if you saw the annual Facebook conference called the F8. There is a big concentration on making Messenger a powerful social media channel by itself and it’s going to be something that we, businesses, are going to be able to take advantage off. 90% open rates, 20% click-through rates. Think about Messenger the same way that you think about email except that Messenger has been ingesting steroids and now it’s email marketing on steroids and that’s what Messenger is now. It’s a great channel to be able to build communication, engagements, communities that are people interested in what you have to say. That will be a big concentration.[bctt tweet=”The social media strategy is a long game of offering value first. If you do that, you win. ” via=”no”]
Instagram advertising, opportunities with Instagram, opportunities with Instagram TV, it’s a big deal. Instagram TV is coming out heavy. Facebook is investing a lot of money on Instagram TV and the organic reach beats any organic reach on any social media platform out there. If you do Instagram TV, you’re going to get a lot more attention. That’s one of the biggest opportunities because Facebook wants to steal some more of the attention from the YouTube platform and that’s part of the game. I will tell you to concentrate on Instagram TV, Instagram, Stories on Facebook and Instagram, Facebook and a lot of content, build communities and bring people into your Messenger channel. Nurture them and that’s how you build a real brand. That should be the obsession going forward probably for the next couple of years.
If people want to find out about how my content and what I talk about, I did a quiz that we launched. It’s going to be some of the basics on the social media world, basics of the strategy. It’s a super ninja awesome quiz that people are going to love going for it. If you want to go to ManuelSuarez.com/quiz, that’s going to take you to a Messenger quiz that is going to get you for a series of questions and answers. If you get the wrong answers, you’re going to get the right answer. It’s going to help you get some basics. I have some mini-course training on the Messenger channel. Also, I have a podcast that people may want to follow called The Facebook Marketing Ninja Podcast. You can find it on Stitcher, on Apple Podcasts and everywhere where there’s a major podcast platform.
Thanks so much.
Thanks for having me.
Several years ago Manuel started a business, launching his own brand. Within a year, it was a multi-million dollar company. He sold it a few months later.
Then he helped his father take his own company from two million dollars in revenue to forty million dollars in four years.
After this he started taking on clients. He took my first client from $800k in monthly sales to over three million in six months.
He has helped generate over half a billion views across different channels, and millions of followers.
He has since started his own Agency, Attention Grabbing Media, and, inspired by Ben Cummings, and created his own course on Facebook Marketing.
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