Agency, The PPC Show

[PPC Show] Running a Remote PPC Agency

This week on The PPC Show, JD is joined by Josh Bretag, Founder of Blueprint Solutions Group, to talk about running and managing a PPC agency.

Tune in to the podcast as we dive into:

  • Josh' story of how he got started his PPC agency
  • Skills he looks for in remote workers
  • And last, he'll share some of his daily productivity tips



Josh Bretag

I live at the intersection between data and growth.

I am not just a digital marketing expert or an analytical / data scientist; I seriously consume information and (here is the good part) I use it - truly use it to drive growth in all aspects of business.

Not by simply understanding good design or developing great campaigns but a thorough holistic approach to building growth strategies that are rigorously tested and meticulously implemented.

Growing a business is not a one and done venture. You cannot simply find a strategy or approach that produces results and then check it off of your to-do list. Continuous growth requires continuous learning, testing, adjusting...continuous work. Work that I am as passionate about as Jacques Cousteau was about discovery.

This passion drives me to not only hit my projects with a vigor that few can master but to voraciously devour information - my education never stops and I bring the benefit of this education to every business I approach.

I am constantly growing my own skills in the areas of : Digital marketing, Growth, AARRR funnel, conversion rate optimization (in all its forms and applications), marketing theory, social media, web development and entrepreneurship by studying the greats, applying my learnings and developing my own approach based on data.

I am the machine behind initiatives that have resulted in:
- 40% sales growth while reducing marketing spend by 70% in less than 3 months
- Conversion rate increases that drove a six-figure increase to the bottom line
- Scaling a startup from $0 revenue to more than $50,000 per a day in consistent revenue in 3 months
- Reducing CPA from $100 to $30 across three marketing channels in just under 2 months
- Scaling a new business from £0 to over £1,300,000 in revenue per month in under 7 months

I pride myself on consistently achieving results that others might call impossible. I believe in hard work, in testing, in data and in building sustainable, reliable growth.

Podcast Transcript

Josh Bretag:                           Yeah, I was gonna say with ... On that topic I find I can get more done in four hours at home when I lock myself in a room and get things done than what I can in an office for eight, ten hours. Because there's no distractions and things like that. And there's no one asking me questions. And there's no one pinging me. I'm really shocking when I have to work in Aussie offices and have people around me talking. So it's like, noise canceling headphones on, and off I go.

JD Prater:                                Welcome back to another episode of The PPC Show. I'm your host JD Prater. And this week I'm joined by Josh Bretag, founder of Blueprint Solutions Group to talk about running a remote PPC agency. Now first I have to say that Josh does an amazing job of running a remote team, and he's going to drop some serious knowledge on some best practices. He's going to tell you exactly what to look for in a potential hire, and then some of his own productivity hacks of how he makes sure that he gets all his work done. And then last I just want to make sure to tell everyone, we had some connection issues, which is completely our fault right here at AdStage HQ, to where I just had a really bad internet connection. So we actually lost half of this interview. So what we're going to be doing is only airing the first half of the interview and then Josh and I are going to try to reconnect and we'll do part two. So look for that coming up.

In the meantime, let's go ahead and get started with the show.

Josh, welcome to the show.

Josh Bretag:                           Thanks, mate. Thanks for having me.

JD Prater:                                If you guys didn't catch that he called me mate. Josh is phoning it in. It is early in the morning in Australia. It's Monday afternoon here in San Francisco. So thanks so much man for coming on.

Josh Bretag:                           It's great to call you back. Come out to chat and talk about PPC and Facebook. I'm really actually quite excited to answer some of the questions here.

JD Prater:                                I'm excited. I think you're our first Australian guest. So I'm always excited to have some people on for different perspectives. And so now we're going to get some international perspective of what's going on down there in Australia. So, why don't you go ahead and introduce yourself and introduce what you got started over there with your company.

Josh Bretag:                           Yeah, sure. So basically I run a company called Blueprint Solutions and also [inaudible 00:02:29]. So Blueprint Solutions is like, we do converged optimized website design and app programming, those sorts of things. And then with Q-betica we do performance marketing ranging from Facebook to full frontal Google Display Network, Google AdWords.

Basically what happens with us is we come into big startups or big corporates and they've got a plateau or they're trying to get something started. They usually come to us and we end up doing, pretty much, their marketing arm for at least six months to a year. Until they take it back internally and we train staff.

So that's basically what we do. Kind of jumped around a bit from where we've started from. Actually started in web development and then progressed in to performance marketing because I got sick and tired of building websites. And then the clients would complain they weren't getting leads and stuff. I'm like, well that's because you're not doing the marketing part properly and you didn't think about the new website, the fact that marketing. You didn't think about adding Google Tag Manager and doing all this. You didn't think about landing page. You didn't think about doing UTM parameters and these sorts of things. So, it pretty much come down from a frustration with trying to help people be better at marketing when they're doing their websites.

JD Prater:                                Nice. Nice. It seems like the checklist is never ending. It seems like it keeps getting longer these days. When we think about website marketing, especially performance marketing so ...

Well, cool man ... Well, we've got two main topics that you have agreed to discuss with us. So, first you're going to be talking to us about remote work culture and then scaling versus maintaining CPA on Facebook ads. So, let's dive in to the first one. Let's talk about some remote work culture. And, kind of, my first question for you is; how do you ... how do you start with that? How do you start with even hiring remote employees?

Josh Bretag:                           Well, I'll take it back a bit, because we actually started with in house culture. So we had our office, we had staff there. But pretty much any staff that would normally rock up maybe, I'd say, one to two days a week, if I was lucky. Including myself, I was a shocker. So I, kind of, set the standard to start off with that it was okay not to come in to the office and do your work.

So it's kind of where the office culture kind of came from because I just couldn't be bothered to go. I didn't see the point in going to an office when I could do the work from my own house and not have to commute an extra half an hour to an hour extra a day. I'm like one of those, kind of, efficient people that look at it and go, how much time do I spend commuting and doing this other stuff and how many extra hours did I have to work or spending doing other stuff. And that, kind of, is how it came from there.

And then what pretty much happened from there was I started evaluating people based on their project performance rather than how many hours they spent in the office. Which I find is one of the clear differentiations between people who are open to remote work and those who are, you know, not so much. Or, you know, in the old style of you got to do your 9:00 to 5:00 and they're not really based ... Performance isn't based off projects or success. It's based on; oh yeah are you working as hard as this other person who is doing ... Comes in at 7:00 and leaves at 6:00 pm. Which I think is the wrong metric for tracking performance of people. Because, I've seen many people where they come in and they start at 10:00 or 11:00 pm and they finish at 3:00 and they get more work done than the guy that comes in at 6:00 am and then finishes at 8:00 pm. Because they have just found better efficiencies, and it's your fault for not giving them more work and using them more effectively, that they are able to finish at those sorts of times.

And programmers are fantastic at doing that because they just automate so much of the process of what you do manually. It's like kind of how the culture came in. And also too, it was just the fact of, I went looking for ... So we ended up hiring our first assistant remotely. So like a virtual assistant. And she was American based. That's, kind of, like where it stems from. We tested out doing O Desk. I think it was like that Philippian job site. I can't remember off the top of my head. Which they're great as well.

But the big issue with that is people go, "oh, let's get some $5 an hour person". You don't want the $5 an hour person. You want the $25 per hour person. The reason why you want the $25 per hour person is because if you had to pay that person in Australia they would probably be around 100, 150, 200 dollars per hour. So you're just playing commons with scale really in that case. That's one the other big gotchas that I found. And I fell in to that trap. I though, oh yeah I'll hire the $5 per hour person. They can do what I want. The problem with that is you're telling that person all the time what you want them to do rather than them coming to you with ideas, thoughts, and challenging your strategies and ideas. And you're never going to be able to grow a business if you're the one that's always spinning all the plates and telling everyone what to do. You need other people to be telling you what to do and telling you that you're wrong.

JD Prater:                                I like that. You don't hear too many people saying that a founder so ...

Here's a question for you. So, whenever you're about to take on someone for a project are there certain skills that you look for and that you know this is someone that's going to do well working remotely?

Josh Bretag:                           It depends on what job I'm hiring for. But usually I'm looking for someone kind of like, you know, a go getter and stuff. So I'll look at teachers, where they kind of got to be ... They've got so much work after hours. It's not funny. So you know they are going to get the work done and you know they're self disciplined.

So I kind of look in to the fields where people have been there, they've gone though a pregnancy or something. You'll find a lot of mothers that have ex-corporate jobs and just sick and tired of working the corporate world. And they will quite happily come pick up a nice job. They get to work from home and spend more time their kids.

I've got two people that have had over 25 years experience in the corporate world and they're just absolute guns when it comes to writing ads because they previously majors in psychology and they both did teaching. And then they both moved in to the marketing roles in the corporate worlds spending like ten million dollar budgets. And you pick them up and then they're not ... They understand that they work from home so they don't charge you as much as well in the corporate world because they're happy to have the lifestyle.

So that's the other thing. A lot of people think that, oh yeah, if you pick up someone with that much experience they're expecting you to pay the same rates to corporate. They're not. They understand that they're doing it for a lifestyle choice. And they don't need as much cash because they've already got a nest egg there. So it's more so just, hey they just want to keep working so they don't get bored. And they want to keep themselves active and moving in their brain. Rather than just being, oh yeah, now I turned in to this housewife that cleans dishes and do these sorts of things. Especially if they are a career driven woman. So, I've always found that like a nice little niche to go in to.

Other things that I look for is someone who ... Like if I set out ... We always set out test task for someone to do. When they first come on we always hire them as a contractor first before we look at doing full time or part-time or anything like that. And what I'm looking for is them to challenge the test. To say something's wrong or, "I would do this differently" because of x, y, z, reason. People need to be confident in their abilities and willing to go against the grain and be open to having hard discussions. Because if you can't do that remotely and you can't do that face to face than you know it's not going to get results that are required.

So that's one of the other things I look towards. And it makes it really easy as well for cutting down the field of people that I'm looking to hire. So, we might get 600 or so applications. I'd say maybe five or ten people out of that 600 would do that. So it makes the field that much easier to cut down.

JD Prater:                                Wow, 600. That's legit, wow. That's really ...

Josh Bretag:                           We put out on like five or six different sites and we get people looking for work. And we advertise worldwide so you're going to pick up a bunch of people.

JD Prater:                                Oh I see, I see. I got you. So it's the worldwide ... Alright.

Cool, cool. Well, I'm a huge fan of remote work. I've worked remote for four years of my life. So I'm going to play devil’s advocate here and say, well what are some of the cons of having this remote work culture?

Josh Bretag:                           I find anything creative wise, so like creating graphics, putting copy and stuff requires a committee of people to do it. That becomes difficult. Even though you've got hangouts, even though you've got zoom and all these cool software where you can chat, there's just a different feeling between doing that over a hangout than being with that person or those people in that room in that meeting. Doing it across the table with your coffees and you guys have all been there at 3:00 am in the morning. Still doing it to get things done and across the line. And I think that requires really tight deadlines. I find it's more effective when you've got all the people together.

So let's say, a person wants a website delivered within the week. That's where I'd be going, yeah no we won't be the right thing for you because we have structure, process, we have a system. We can't just throw a project in to the middle of that, that required delivery within a week and be able to deliver effectively.

If you had everyone in house and with you, you could probably do it a lot easier and a lot more effective. But I find if you've got ... It's just because of the coordination. And you can't just hop over and chat to someone and say, "hey, da-da-da what about this issue" or fix this and then show me. You've got all these effective tools to do it. You can do the same thing that we can face to face online. But there is just that bit more efficiently when there is a fine deadlines and things like that. No short timelines. There's a lot more efficiency when you are there with them than when you're not.

And normally strategy stuff too is the other one that I find is really ... So if you got ... We always catch up all my heads of strategy, heads of marketing, heads of operations, client and stuff. We catch up once a year for two to three weeks at a time and go through the whole strategy for next, two, three, five years. And I find that's more effective that doing that across Google Hangouts.

And it's just also too about ... When you work remote you also lose that personal touch with coworkers a bit more because you're not with them face to face. You're not talking about stuff outside of work. So you always got to ... I find with remote workers that you need to encourage them to supplement that. So then to go out, do activities like sports and stuff with teams. So it's still got that friendship and those thing outside work. Which they would have had if they were working in an office usually.

JD Prater:                                Gotcha. Gotcha.

Cool, I think those are all some of those pains that people feel working remote. So I would agree with all of those.

So the other side of that is there's this, kind of, myth right? That if you work remote than you're not actually working. Right? You're at home and you're doing other things, but you're not working. And so, could you give us a breakdown. Give me an average day for you. When do you start? When do you log off? Walk us through what a normal day looks like for you.

Josh Bretag:                           Normal day for me is like; I'm up at 5:00 am, 4:30, go for a ride for about maybe three or four hours. So, do that, then come back. Then it's breakfast. Then it's probably start work about 8:00, 9:00 am. Usually I turn off like Skype, email, the whole works because it's just distracting for the first three hours of the day. Because normally if it's important someone will call me or text me. So I leave my phone on for that. If it's not than I'll leave them off. And I'm usually working on strategy or working on the business. So, like how can we effectivity do this? Or I'm working on a certain client's campaign or something like that.

And then I take a break for an hour or two in the middle of the day. Spend time with the kids if I can.

And then after that I go back in to another shift of work. Which then I'll actually turn slack and Hangouts and those things off for about an hour. Answer any things that are important and send that off. Go again, do another solo bit of work. And then again revise and then by that stage it's probably 5:00 or 6:00 pm. And because we've got US, UK, UAE clients than I'll have meetings at 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, or 10:00 pm at night with UK clients. Usually on a daily basis.

JD Prater:                                Nice. Nice.

I kind of like some of those things that you pointed out about, it's okay to take a break. As long as you come back, you can get plugged right back in. I think a lot of times, I'd say being internal, it's a weird feeling. It's like, if you were to take a break for that long, it's okay. Your mind needs to relax. You hit it hard so ... Very cool. Very cool.

Well let's ...

Josh Bretag:                           Yeah well I find ...

JD Prater:                                Oh, go ahead ...

Josh Bretag:                           Oh, sorry.

JD Prater:                                Go ahead.

Josh Bretag:                           I was going to say with ... On that topic I find I can get more done in four hours at home when I lock myself in a room and get things done than what I can in an office for eight, ten hours. Because there's no distractions and things like that. And there's no one asking me questions. And there's no one pinging me. I'm really shocking when I have to work in Aussie offices and have people around me talking. So it's like: noise canceling headphones on, and off I go. So that's just the way that I work.

But also too, you definitely have to ... That's the other thing too. You'll find workaholics in remote work that just keep working and working and working. And they'll eventually burn out. If you don't take a break times because I haven't taken breaks. I haven't done stopped. I haven't stepped back and realized there's more life than working.

JD Prater:                                Yeah, I've definitely been guilty of that. So ...

And this is where we have to cut the episode. Again, I really apologize for the internet connection issues that we have. But stay tuned for part two with Josh as we will be discussing maintaining and scaling CPA on Facebook adds.

Thanks everyone.

AdStage Team