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Automation Unplugged

Automation Unplugged is a Facebook Live show recorded weekly with our host Ron Callis, Owner and CEO of the digital marketing agency, One Firefly. In each Automation Unplugged episode, Ron speaks with leading industry personalities and technology professionals to discuss all things business development, technology trends, and more. These interviews are designed to help our clients and members of the custom integration industry keep up-to-date with the latest news as well as learn from experts in the field.

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Home Automation Unplugged Episode #223: An Industry Q&A with Carson Morby

In this weeks home automation show of Automation Unplugged, Carson Morby, Director of Marketing at Advanced Integrated Systems shares why brand awareness is so important to an integration business

Home Automation Unplugged Episode #223: An Industry Q&A with Carson Morby

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Carson Morby. Recorded live on Wednesday, September 7th, 2022, at 12:30 pm. EST.

About Carson Morby

AIS was founded in 2000 as a design and installation firm for AV systems and automated home and business systems. Over the years, the company has grown from a 2-3 man operation into a crew of 15 full time employees with a design & engineering department and a 24/7 client care plan.

Carson joined AIS in December of 2021, and took over the role as Director of Marketing in early 2022. Since then, AIS has been scaling their growth by implementing a marketing plan targeted toward luxury clients. AIS continues to rapidly grow in the Northern Utah area, and is projected to more than double its annual revenue for the second consecutive year.

Interview Recap

  • As a newcomer to the CI Channel: Carson’s point of view 
  • The importance of corporate marketing programs and how they can have a positive impact on a business
  • Why brand awareness is so important to an integration business
  • The role of video in marketing

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #222 An Industry Q&A with Josh Christian

Transcript

Ron:  Rod Callis here with another episode of Automation Unplugged, brought to you by my day job here at One Firefly. Today is Wednesday, September 7. Happy belated birthday to my brother. My brother's birthday was on September 6. That's Matthew Callis. And today what are we? We're in the middle of the week after Labor Day, so I'm curious how all of you are doing. Is your week jammed or are you catching back up? I know for us, as you head into a big three day holiday, everyone front loads their week in the back half of the week can be people taking both you or in the case of One Firefly, our team or our clients taking some time. And then people are a little groggy on their Tuesday as they kind of get back into the regular region regiment of the week. But it's a nonstop boogie here at One Firefly. I can tell you we have never been busier. I have never been busier because the old adage, be careful what you ask for, and we asked to be busy. There's lots of people that we can help and our phone is ringing and our live chat, our lead concierge, is very active on our website, so lots of fun stuff going on. I'm getting the go ahead from David that we are live effectively live on YouTube and LinkedIn. So that's super cool. I think we're starting to get the hang. Famous last words, brother Murphy, please leave me alone. Famous last words. I think we're getting the hang of going live on these two platforms here. David Salazar on our team here at One Firefly is doing a superlative job of getting us live and really helping a lot of the workings behind the scenes with the show go on without a hitch. And while I'm giving shout outs, I also give a shout out to Carlos who does all of our editing, audio editing and sound engineering on the shows for those of you that have not already done so, if you also choose or wish to listen to the podcast, you'd go to your favorite podcast software and just search up Automation Unplugged. And the interview portion of the show, that's what lands in the podcast from our live interviews. And Carlos does that editing and then Miguel does all of our artwork, all of our show art that goes out every week for every new guest. Miguel puts that together. So again, also, Rebecca and Jessica and all the team and marketing that help promote the show and whatnot big team behind the scenes here. I'm very thankful for them. They helped make this happen every week. With that said, I'm excited to bring you show 223. 223 of these interviews, hard to believe. Five years have gone by in a blink and I see my guest here, Carson, on the screen and it's right, Carson, five years of these shows and here you are today to join us. It's going to be a lot of fun. So my guest today is Carson Morbey. He's the director of marketing at Advanced Integrated Systems. They are an integration firm out of Utah. Carson is going to be a lot of fun, and he's going to bring a unique perspective because Carson is newer to our industry, and he's running the marketing for this integration firm. So he's going to talk to us about what his impressions of the industry have been; good and bad and everything in between, and what his impressions of how do you run marketing for an integration firm. What are some of the tactics that he's finding are making a difference and that his audience or his prospects are responding to. So definitely grab your coffee, grab your water if you've not already done so. And I'm going to go ahead and bring Carson in now, and we're going to get started. Thanks, everyone. Carson, how are you, sir?

Carson: Hey, good. How are you?

Ron:  I am good. Thank you for joining us today. Why don't you maybe introduce your business, introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about those two.

Carson: Yeah. So my name is Carson Morbey. Like Ron said, I am the director of marketing for Advanced Integrated Systems. We're a nice small integration firm in northern Utah. We've been in business for about 22 years now, which is awesome. Our two owners are super passionate about music. That's kind of what got them in the business. And with music comes the rest of the technology. Like Ron said, I'm pretty new to the business, and I had no exposure at all to the AV business before this, so it's been really fun to get out there and learn.

Ron:  As director of marketing at a small integration firm, in your words, so what does small mean? You guys are somewhere between ten and 20 staff, maybe?

Carson: Yeah, so I think we got 15 right now, 15 full timers. So, I mean, for some, that's pretty large,

Ron:  Yeah, I find everything's relative. For the shop, that's five people, 15 feels large, and for the shop, that's 30 people, 15 feels small.

Carson: Yeah, that's true.

Ron:  So I'm always a fan of Einstein's theory of relativity. It only means something if you compare it against something.

Carson: Right.

Ron:  So what does the director of marketing do just as a job description or job title? Kind of, what does that type of job mean within your business?

Carson: For us, it means that I take care of handling all of our outside advertising, any of our social media, video production. A lot of it has to deal with paper marketing material, too. We do a lot with mail. I'm supposed to maintain a really good relationship with what we call our influencers, which would be interior designers, builders, architects. So that's something that we're building off of right now, and it's a relatively new position at AIS. It's just something that I kind of grew into that's kind of what I'm in charge of handling is all that kind of stuff. A lot of times there's a team to handle all that, but where we're smaller, that gives me the resources to be able to handle all of that.

Ron:  AIS, what type of work are they? Residential, commercial, small, large projects. What are some of the work that they do?

Carson: Most of what we do is residential. We like to work more with the luxury type market, but we do lots of good residential stuff. We do stuff with local businesses. That's something that we really like to do is go put sound systems and security systems just so people know who we are. We also do some commercial stuff. We've been doing, like, some wiring for cameras and some local elementary schools and junior highs.

Ron:  Okay, now, Carson, let's talk timeline. How long have you been in the residential custom integration space?

Carson: I think I started yesterday.

Ron:  Was it last week?

Carson: I actually started back in December. It was the week before Christmas, and I was looking for a job after I had lost my previous job. I had a friend that does marketing for a few of the brands in our industry, and he was like, hey, if you're looking for a change of pace, this is a great business to go into. Here's a couple of places you can look into working.

Ron:  And if I'm correct, that was a person at what we would call a rep agency. They often have the word marketing in their title, but it was like a company that represented so they represented some brands. Well, talk to us about your background. Where did you come from? What's your origin story? And then again, I want to dig in on kind of what you read of our space. How does it feel to you entering this space? Old dogs like me have only known this professionally for the last couple of decades, so I'm super keen to hear your perspective. What's your background?

Carson: So professionally, I went out and did a little bit of college. I actually started out in landscape architecture. They've got a good program here up in Kaysville, Utah, at the Utah State for Landscape architecture. So I started into that, but didn't end up finishing college and somehow got caught up in a career in law enforcement. Never saw myself in anything like that, but it was a great opportunity. They were paying good money and I like helping people. That's always been important to me, serving others and just making an impact on other people's lives. So I did that for about six years. So I moved down to about an hour away from where I went to school and met my wife and everything. We just wanted to come back up to Cache Valley. We missed it up here. It's just a beautiful place. Gets really green in the springtime and in the fall. It's just beautiful. We just missed it. So we came up and decided to look for more employment. And I'm a big barbecue fanatic, so I actually ended up taking a job as a manager of a barbecue supply store, and that was a big leap for us. I was never planning on leaving law enforcement, but came up and had that great opportunity as a store manager and got it ripped out of my hands.

Ron:  Oh, no.

Carson: It ended up being a painful experience. Ended up losing that job at the end of last year. So I only did that for about five, six months of last year. Then we were kind of swimming a little bit in the deep end. We were like, what are we going to do? And that's when I had my buddy from that agency that reached out to me, and I was like, hey, the AV world is really cool.

Ron:  Now, the world of barbecue. So tell us about that world. I know just from us chatting in advance of the show, I understand it was a hobby of yours. Maybe tell us how you took that hobby and actually started flexing some of your marketing skills around that hobby.

Carson: Yeah, so that was actually my first marketing experience, but with barbecue, I grew up smoking turkeys with my dad when I was a teenager. It would be once or twice a year, he'd pull out his old propane smoker, and we'd throw a turkey on and put the leftovers in the freezer and use it for different things throughout the year. So I got kind of passionate about barbecue, like in my early 20s when I first got married, and then started to get gradually obsessed. And now it's definitely a barbecue addiction for me. And I woke up, it was actually January 1, 2020, and I looked at my wife and I was like, I think I'm going to start an Instagram page that's just dedicated to my barbecue stuff. I was like, I don't know, maybe I'm bugging people constantly with pictures of my food, so if people want to see my food, they can just go to this page. And it ended up being a really cool thing. I didn't get an insane amount of followers or anything that's tough to do, but it just kind of became a passion of mine to share that. With that came the social media; As far as Facebook, I did a little bit with YouTube. I've got a few recipe videos up there on YouTube. But I ended up starting this business. And my wife helped me come up with a name for the business. It's called Yolk and Smoke. And we used yolk like an egg yolk, because we had an army of chickens on our property down at our old house. So we were always trying to come up with ways to cook eggs and find a way to use them, because we have too many of them.

Ron:  Would you put eggs on the barbecue?

Carson: Yeah, smoked eggs. Smoked deviled eggs. If you've ever had a deviled egg before, smoke deviled egg. It's just insane. Yeah, stuff like that. So I was like, I kind of want Smoke to be in the name. So she's like, Yolk and Smoke, that was my wife that came up with the idea for the name.

Ron:  It's a good name.

Carson: It's stuck, and it kind of rolls off the tongue a little bit. People look at it a little bit weird. They're like, Yolk and Smoke, what? But it's working out pretty great and got really involved in the community here in Utah. You wouldn't think of barbecue when you picture Utah, but there's actually a pretty good, tight knit barbecue community here. And like I said, I got involved with them. And ever since then, it's kind of just been a side gig. It's been a hobby, and it just gives me the plus of some extra income every once in a while.

Ron:  All right.

Carson: Nothing substantial.

Ron:  I invested here in the COVID times, probably like many people listening into a little bit of barbecue goodness out on my patio. I put a little outdoor kitchen out there, but I'm definitely totally green and totally novice as it relates to barbecue. And yes, this is an AV industry podcast, and we'll get there, I promise everyone. But you got to give me, like, one tip, like one.

Carson: Everybody eats.

Ron:  Everybody eats. And everybody I'm not going to say everybody eats barbecue, but everybody likes good food. So what's, like, one go to method or recipe that you think anyone listening could try this, and they probably have some good luck.

Carson: I call it the reverse sear method. So if you have anything that gives you the capability of smoking something, you smoke something low and slow. It's really popular with tri tip, if you've ever heard of that. Or you were mentioning Picanha earlier.

Ron:  Yes.

Carson: So basically, you're smoking it at a low smoke temperature for a little bit until it's almost done. For me, I like medium rare, nice warm peak center. So you smoke it till it's just below that, about ten to 15 degrees under that finished temperature, and then you get whatever your cooking source is. Nice and hot. I like to use charcoal, so I get those charcoals. The briquette is nice and hot, and then I sear it over the charcoal. So you get the nice smoke flavor, but then you get the good, satisfying crust, like you would at a steak house with a nice steak.

Ron:  All right, now you mentioned a try tip. How long would that typically, how much time are we talking to? You said slow smoke.

Carson: No more than an hour and a half. You're just going to the lower temperature, but initially when it rises up to those lower temperatures that you cook beef to it, it goes pretty quick. Maybe 2 hours max.

Ron:  I'm going to ask super silly question. I know I got lots of people listening. They're going to go, oh, my God, this guy does not know how to use his grill. Can I use my grill to smoke or do I need a separate device that is a smoker? And I've seen the fancy smokers. I know Joe Rogan is an advocate of one particular type of smoker. I've never done that. So do I need a separate device you can put stuff in like a gas grill?

Carson: I think that's what you said you had as just a gas grill, right?

Ron:  I have a gas grill, yeah.

Carson: They have little metal boxes that you can put wood chips in and put those up on top of the flames so those will start smoking for you. I do like smokers better, but that's a pretty good option if you've got a gas grill. Something you can throw either pellets in or wood chips.

Ron:  Okay.

Carson: You can't smoke on the gas grill.

Ron:  All right, I'm going to check that out. All right, let's switch gears. So you joined this integration firm. Not to put words in the mouth of the owners, but what was it you think that helped them decide that they were ready to invest in a dedicated person on their staff for marketing for them?

Carson: I think it was a good push from the manager, Riley. He's got a business degree and everything. He's a really smart guy. And he kind of came in like me, with not a ton of experience in the AV world at all. But he understands that to run a successful business, you need to market your business. That's more than just going out and asking for referrals. It's more than just a postcard every once in a while. You got to be a little bit more progressive with it these days. And I think they put a lot of trust in Riley. And I think getting me on staff, having a little bit of that experience, and I think most of it was probably the passion for the marketing and reaching out and trying to help people and share with people what we do. I think when they saw that I had started to do that, I would imagine that's probably what helped them make that leap. But I think a lot of it, too, is that our manager, Riley, was in charge of the marketing, too, and then one of our former salesman was helping out with it, too. But they have too many hats.

Ron:  Do you think it's a good idea? And I'm sure plenty that are watching or listening have thought of, why don't they just have the office manager do the marketing or have the salesperson do the marketing? And I see that all the time in the space it's thought of for many, not all, but as very much a secondary kind of category. To invest time and energy into. What's your impression on that?

Carson: I think it looks kind of silly when somebody wears two hats at once. Like, I've got one hat on right now. It looks kind of funny with more than one hat. So people just get too busy an office manager, a lot of the time they're dealing with the accounting. They're dealing with a lot of the calls coming in for leads or different service needs that they have with a salesman. I mean, we're a busy industry. People are building homes. I know there's a little bit of inflation right now, but it's still a very busy industry. So they got to have time to sell and marketing, it needs to be a consistent effort. So if you don't have somebody that can consistently take care of the marketing like they can their normal job, then it should be something that should be handled by somebody that can make it consistent. We met you, I believe.

Ron:  I know you met Jessica on my team, Carson, at the recent Azione Marketing Conference that took place this summer. I want to say that was in Chicago, is that correct?

Carson: Correct. Yeah.

Ron:  What was the takeaway from that event? A takeaway or takeaways? Plural. What were your kind of big ideas coming out of that event that you were able to take home and start to implement?

Carson: I think what was good about that conference was to be able to hear from other people in the industry that have successfully done marketing, people that are heavily involved in marketing, because that's something that our industry really lacks. Not enough people are marketing. If you're not marketing, you're doing it wrong. So it was good to go to Azione and see that we were doing a lot of things right, but it was good to get good ideas from other people. Like, somebody mentioned that people like to get mail, make sure you're sending out mail to people. But the biggest takeaway for me was that the average person needs what they call seven taps on the shoulder to be able to catch the image and realize that they need something. So you're going to need to attack these people from seven different angles. That doesn't mean that you're sending them seven ads on Facebook and that's seven taps on the shoulder, that's just one tap on the shoulder. They need to be getting hit from several different points of view. And I think that was probably my biggest takeaway from that. It's just knowing how much I need to concentrate on giving people different experiences.

Ron:  Tell me more about mail, snail mail. People need to see things. People like to receive things in the mail. How do you activate that or what do you do with that idea?

Carson: For us, we do a lot of influencer marketing as far as reaching like interior designers, builders, architects, and that's where a lot of our mail efforts go. But people like to get mail. I mean, when I get coupons in the mail, I even read those, I might be weird, but a lot of people really like to get mail. So it's important to do it. But you don't want to just make it abroad. What they call spray and prey, you don't want to just send mail to everybody. When you have a target market, like if you're somebody that wants to target a luxury customer, then you need to make sure that all of your marketing channels are dedicated to a specific campaign that would target a larger individual.

Ron:  And how are you doing that? So the idea of spraying and praying, I'm going to interpret that as sending a postcard or a mail or letter to thousands of people regardless of whether they're your target customer or not. What's the way that you push back and you're more precise?

Carson: Honestly, we're still working on that. We're trying to figure it out. Every area has a very unique market, so it's going to be different for everyone. For us, a lot of it has been working with those influencers and getting referrals from previous customers. So any chance that we can get to reach out to those specific people, the ones that actually bring us that business and we've seen success with in the past. That's where we want to concentrate our efforts towards. But it's something that's relatively new to us. So we're still figuring it out, trying it out. But yeah, we have seen some success with those influencers as far as getting referrals.

Ron:  Something that your business and ours are working together on is what we here at One Firefly we call corporate programs. It's the idea that we have partnered with companies like Sony or Dish. I know those are two that actually we're collaborating on. The manufacturer is funding you could think of manufacturers have marketing dollars, some called MDF dollars, marketing development fund dollars. And maybe if we go way back in time, manufacturers would make those monies available and dealers could cash them in for t-shirts or Coozys or Frisbees or water coolers or any sort of things that qualified. And a lot of manufacturers realized or learned that giving everyone a nice arctic water bottle, it's cool, but it doesn't exactly drive sales, right? And so companies like Sony have started to think more strategically about how can I deploy a set of tactics through a dealer's channels, through email, through social, through social advertising, with landing pages and lead concierge, live chat, all these other tactics. And ultimately the manufacturer gets their message told and the dealer gets free marketing. What has that been like for you guys so far, participating in those programs?

Carson: It's so easy. It can have a huge impact for us. We've been doing the Sony marketing program this year for the last couple of months. And I believe we did it last year too. But that's free marketing in this day of age where you need to market, having the opportunity to have somebody put money forward for you, that's great. Like Sony is paying for us to work with One Firefly, and we're going to start the Dish program here in a little bit, too. So that's a good way to get the word out about products and programs that you're already using, but somebody else is paying for it. I think it's a great unique opportunity, and it's simple. I've had the email back and forth a couple of times to give somebody access to our MailChimp account so they can send out the emails for us. But that's exactly what it is. We're in a business of automation, and it's basically automated for you because somebody's in there sending those emails, doing those Facebook ads for you.

Ron:  If you were to predict from, and I'll just, for argument's sake, say the last Sony campaign we activated for you guys, and that's typically done in a three month sprint, is that correct? Three months at a time. What was the total amount of time you as a director of marketing, have had to interact or interface with our team to make that three month marketing effort happen?

Carson: Ten to 15 minutes, max.

Ron:  Over three months?

Carson: Yeah, I think we've been going with the Sony program, I think it's been about two months now.

Ron:  Got it.

Carson: That probably includes the time that I've taken to talk to our manager about it. Like saying, hey, do you want to do this? Here's, this opportunity. And then the time, communicating back and forth with whoever it is that is actually facilitating the experience. And yeah, ten to 15 minutes, max.

Ron:  All right, let's talk marketing or not marketing, video marketing. And I've visited your website. I'm actually going to share it on the screen. And Jessica had actually given me some comments, some notes on her takeaway. She actually came to me after she met you and shared with me kind of some of your thoughts and feelings around video. And I was like, well, I'd be a fun thing to talk about on Automation Unplugged. So thus, here you are. I'm going to share the screen and it's your website so the audience can see your website and let's see if I can get technology to behave. There we go. I think I can make it a little bit more vertical. Here we go. But what the and for those that are listening, what you don't see, but I'll describe to you is we're on the Aisav.com website, and again, we'll drop that down in the comments section here on social media. We'll also put it on the show page. But what I'm seeing right there on the header of your home page is I'm seeing custom video. This looks like this is, I'm assuming, probably video you've shot. So can you just tell us what your overall take is on video and then how you guys are going about getting content.

Carson: Yeah, so video is probably the most attention grabbing thing that you can do in marketing right now. Everybody is about videos. Like, you go on TikTok, everybody wants the videos, you go on Instagram, it's the reels. Facebook, the same thing even on YouTube. So if you're not doing any kind of video anything, I would encourage you to do it because we've seen some success as far as educating people and getting more impressions. The difference between when I post a video on Facebook or Instagram compared to just a picture is generally pretty big as far as the impression that it gets. And that's huge because we use our social media almost strictly for educating people about our industry and what we do. So yeah, you have to have video resources and on the website that's a great tool too, because they opened the website and it's stuck on a picture for about half a second and then the video starts playing and it's immediately showing people exactly what we do without them having to go and read an article. That's huge because a lot of people don't take the time to read right now. If it's not a moving image or some kind of video, they're just going to keep scrolling or click off of your website. So it's awesome to have that be the very first thing that you see on the website.

Ron:  How are you getting this done? Are you hiring a video crew or are you doing it yourself? Is there another member of your team?

Carson: So we do a little bit of everything, which I think is great. You need to have somebody that does kind of your day to day videos and stuff. So I do a lot of our videography as far as going into some of the houses that we finished and doing some focused videos, because I can go and do that anytime, as long as I have the permission of the homeowner. I just go in with my camera and I say, I want to get a video about security systems. One day I go in there and I can do a custom video and have it done in a day. I have experience with that. So it's pretty easy to get that done quick. But when you want that really nice, crisp, professional video like the one that's there at the top of our website, I think it's really important to hire somebody out. And you don't have to hire somebody for all of your video, but I think it's important to have a really crisp, clean, hired out video. And we've been lucky enough to be able to not have to deal with sketchy emails about people saying, hey, I can do videography or I can update your website and stuff. We've been able to find local people that have the skills to do that. The person that did this video for us on the website was actually one of our clients from last year, that's their daughter that does videography. So she just went with us to a few houses, filmed the video, and did a great job. And we have a nice, professional, clean video that we can use for educating people and catching attention. Then one of our really unique ones that we're really excited about, that we just got access to about a week or two ago is called an Animated Explainer video. And basically it's an animated video that just really basically explains what we do. This is a tool that we can use for YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, but it's a great tool that we can use for also the sales process. Say we bring somebody into the office and they want to know a little bit more what the process is, what we can do. We can show them a little 30 second version of that video and it's just really catchy because it's animated. People like animations. It's fun, but it's just so simple.

Ron:  Now, I know there's a lot of folks listening and or watching, so what I have on the screen right now is the Explainer video being streamed from your YouTube channel and they're going to go, oh my God, that looks so complicated. I don't have enough time, enough hours in the day to figure this out. Can you kind of talk at a high level? What was your process of going about finding someone to do this? And for anyone that's listening, thinking, we're self promoting, here One Firefly, we have nothing to do to do with this. This is all Carson going out into the universe and finding answers. So what was the process like?

Carson: That's just another one of those things that was a really simple process. We found a local video productions guy that was about half an hour away from our office and we got on a zoom call and we're like, hey, is this something you can do? We know that you do actual videos and stuff, but can you do animations? And he's like, oh yeah, absolutely. Most people that do that full time have the capabilities of animation too, because animation is pretty simple as far as this kind of video is concerned. So we hopped on a zoom call, told him what our mission is, what we do, what we wanted the video to portray. We gave him some logos, some images and stuff and he was like, alright, well, give me some script ideas, I'll write up a script. We'll get together here in a few weeks. So he sent us the script, we edited it to kind of fit a little bit more, kind of more accurately what we do. And then we sent it back to them. They recorded the script and they did the animations. And unfortunately, it took a few months for us to actually get the video out. That was more of a kind of scheduling issue on his end, but it ended up great. It was just a super easy process. We never even had to go meet the guy, even though he was nice and close. We could have, but it's just so simple. There's people everywhere that are capable of doing something like that. So if you're worried about being a complicated process, a difficult process, or even a sketchy process, somebody reaching out to you on your email. You don't know if it's a phishing attack or some kind of junk email, just reach out to somebody local. Reach out to your network. I know you guys all have people in your network, so reach out to them and see what's there for you. That's been the greatest advantage for us and it saved us a lot of money being able to find local people and people in our network.

Ron:  I love it. That explainer video. I saw it on YouTube. Is the intent to put it somewhere on the website?

Carson: Yeah, I'm going to put it somewhere on the website. I haven't figured out exactly where I want to incorporate that one yet, but yeah, I think that'll definitely be on the website. But we've been using social media. Like, we've got a paid ad going. That's another thing that's really easy. All you do is just choose your audience. You can target specific areas with it.

Ron:  What platform are we talking? Google or Facebook?

Carson: Sorry. This was on Facebook. Facebook. We got a paid Facebook ad that's running this video and we've got three versions of the video. It's just a long version and two short versions of it, and we just kind of rotate those through.

Ron:  How's that performance? That's been active for a week.

Carson: Way better than most of our normal ads.

Ron:  Wow. And so when you say it's working better, what do you call success? What's happening? What's the action?

Carson: True success would obviously be conversions as far as getting leads off of it. But I mean, what we're working with, with education and getting people to know who we are and what we do, like the impressions and the reach has been way bigger.

Ron:  Okay, that makes sense.

Carson: We've been getting a lot of clicks. A lot of the times I'll do the goal to have them click on our website or to go to our website, and we've been getting a lot more website clicks out of it.

Ron:  Okay, that's good food for thought for everybody out there thinking about social advertising and how to get those things to perform better, the answer sounds like it's going to be using video. By the way, here at One Firefly, we're also experimenting with video and ads and we're pretty confident there's a there there video on every platform. Video for posts and advertising is working better. We need to run that all the way through to conversions and leads and sales. But a lot of the leads really similar to you, Carson, kind of your thoughts. A lot of the leading indicators with visibility and impressions and click throughs, a lot of those do appear to be performing quite well. Now, we've never done any testing with a whiteboard Explainer video, so I'm super eager to hear how your experiment continues there and how that plays out. I want to jump channels here and talk about social media, and I'm just sharing on the screen here your Instagram page. So for those that want to find or follow you, your company on Instagram, it looks like it's A-I-S-A-V Utah.

Carson: You might still be on the website there.

Ron:  Is it? Let's see here. It is definitely.

Carson: Not sure if it's for everyone else or is it just for me.

Ron:  Yeah, I think that might be a screen delay. I'll have David reply to me here in Slack, at least what I think I'm seeing. I think I'm seeing the Instagram page. Okay, good. But there could be a screen delay. That's certainly possible, but what is your approach? You are coming in, you're taking over and running the marketing. There were some there before you doing that. How do you think about what to post? And we'll be specific. I'm on Instagram. What do you think about posting on Instagram and how have you kind of figured that out?

Carson: So for Instagram, going into it, I knew that it needed to be a nice, neat, clean, pretty pictures, nice, pretty videos and stuff. That's where people go for more of their image content anyways. It's changed a lot over the last year or so as far as reels being the major thing, and we need to be better about that. But my approach with it was I wanted to give people a personal experience because generally people go to Instagram for a personalized experience. They want to get personal with people, kind of that raw opportunity. And for me, my mindset was kind of like what I want to see. I didn't know anything about AIS before I started. So what is it that I would want to see in a post that would help me understand what AIS does? I've mentioned a lot education. That really is a huge platform for us on social media, educating people, but also giving people a personal experience. That's where we'll show a tech of the quarter for whatever. One of our technicians was like the best performing technician over the last quarter or so, post, something like that. But my favorite thing on Instagram is the tech talk Thursdays. I usually do that about every other Thursday. It's not as consistent as I'd like it to be, but where I'm still learning about our industry, I go on and I learn something, whether it's about bandwidth or streaming quality, and I go teach myself about it so I can actually know what I'm talking about. And then I go do an educational tech talk Thursday. Here's a post talking about bandwidth or streaming quality. And why you need this streaming platform over, just like a Netflix or Hulu if you want a movie theater experience. So yeah, that's kind of my takeaway, just education and personalization.

Ron:  Are you using the tactic of going out to your designers? You talked previously about influencers in your space and sending the mail correspondence? Are you going on to social media and following them, liking them, commenting on their post? Is that part of your strategy?

Carson: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's been a really important part because before the mail ever shows up to them or something, they already know who we are because they've interacted either in like a direct message or some kind of comment. And we call it influencer stalking, to be honest, it sounds creepy, but it's influencer stalking. We go onto Instagram and the people that we want to partner with, we try and get a relationship with them on social media as well because so many of them, especially like interior designers and builders, are huge with their Instagram accounts. That's definitely a channel we really like. And we have an interior designer that's going to be helping us with the remodel of our building to building a showroom for us and somebody that we should be getting some work in the future from as well as far as referrals, and that was mostly because of an Instagram relationship that was formed.

Ron:  Wow, that's impressive. What would you say, Carson, to the folks that are listening that are currently I don't want to say in denial, but they will tell you and me all of their work comes through referral, and that's how they grow their business. What would you say to them? You're going to maybe you'll go to CEDIA, you'll pull up to a bar at some industry event and you're kind of shooting the shit with someone and this conversation happens. What's your take on that?

Carson: It's great. It's been working for a long time. And I'd say that most of our business at AIS comes from referrals too. But why not have another referral source? If you're doing great now and if you're busy now, why not do even better and get even busier and grow even more? What's stopping you from that? And it's not something that's going to continue to work in the future, I don't think. Not solely at least. Marketing is huge. It's just the way that now you get the millennial generation that's coming in that makes up the majority of homebuyers. I think it's like over 60% of homebuyers are millennials now, and I'm a millennial. I know we don't work the same way as older generations do. The new generation is going to be similar in that sense. We want technology, we want social media, we want to be exposed to stuff on those platforms. So you got to move with the times, but at the same time work with your referrals, keep doing that. That's a great way to run your business. Word of mouth is huge for us at AIS, and that's never going to die. But it's not going to be the only option and it shouldn't be the only option.

Ron:  How does your efforts in marketing, how do you collaborate with the sales side of the business? How does marketing and sales work together or how should it work together?

Carson: So a lot of the people that I target with marketing is coming from the sales staff. They hear of some kind of influencer or some kind of client and they say, hey, I want you to send out a mailer to this person. So I go send a mailer out to them and I give them another tap on the shoulder and I'll go follow them on Instagram. And I start liking all of their work because so much of what we do, we want to revolve around those influencers because they bring so much business, because they're constantly working with people that are actively shopping and actively forking out money, basically. So I work really close with our sales staff. I'm in our sales meeting every single week. It's a very intertwined thing. Sales is marketing and marketing is sales.

Ron:  In what ways does your business use a CRM?

Carson: We use Project 360 as far as our managing our customers, as well as our inventory and everything, but with kind of with managing the clients and all of that. I have an email list. Like every so often I'll import that contact list from Projects 360 into our email contact list. So we're constantly having a new flow of people that are opting into our email campaigns.

Ron:  Are leads coming in? Are you utilizing and I'll just give an example here at One Firefly, when we have someone go to our website and fill out a form, or if someone comes to the One Firefly site and fills out a live chat engagement, what happens is a human on my team goes and creates a lead and we use Zoho. And then that gets handed over to the sales team, and the sales team is vetting it. It will get turned into an opportunity. Then ultimately that will get followed up and it'll either be won or lost. And that allows for pipeline management, right? So it allows a manager, in my case our CFO, to see what's in the pipeline. And then we have some historical data around what percentage of that stuff in the pipe actually converts. And that gives an idea of the future. And that's I can tell you, everyone listening. It's very powerful and once you try it, there's no other way to fly. Just fly with your eyes wide open.

Carson: Yeah, we have a sales pipeline. We actually use an Excel spreadsheet for kind of that initial contact for the sales pipeline.

Ron:  Okay

Carson: Basically that list is used to kind of filter those leads that are coming in. Like, for example, last night I got a phone call from a good friend of mine that's a real estate agent. And he's like, hey, we just bought a new office. We want some TVs hanged. We're thinking about some security and some motorized shades. Is that something you guys can make happen? And I'm like, oh, perfect. I'll put him in the sales pipeline. I'm going to reach out to our sales team and have them reach out to him. But basically my job right there was to filter him through whether he's going to be a customer that we're going to have because not everybody that comes to us is going to be a potential customer or we're dealing with more of a luxury clientele. But having that sales pipeline, it's really nice because we go meet and talk about that sales pipeline and make sure people are getting filtered through. And once they've been established as a good potential client for us, we're putting them into Projects 360 as an opportunity and then the opportunity into a proposal. Most people probably kind of know that process from there.

Ron:  I'm going to paint a picture and I'll ask you, Carson, your opinion? I'm going to make something up. They've been in business for ten years. They've got a website. That's where I'll end it. And they're going, oh, my God, Carson has moved me. I believe what he is saying. I need to spend some energy on marketing of my business. What should they, in your opinion? There's no right or wrong answer. It's just your gut reaction. What do you think they should look at? What should they maybe if even priority, like get this right, then get this, then get this. What would be some of those things that are top of mind to focus on?

Carson: First, have somebody that has the capacity to be able to at least put a marketing focus in to get the process started. If you don't have somebody and you foresee, it being kind of a difficult possibility of hiring somebody for something like that and you don't have somebody on your team that can already do it, somebody like One Firefly not getting paid to advertise that, by the way.

Ron:  $20 bill is in the mail, Carson. $20 bill has been sent.

Carson: I thought it was only going to be $10, but yeah, somebody like One Firefly, somebody that can take care of marketing all of your marketing resources while you don't have the capability of doing it. And maybe that's something that works for you as far as having or maybe you're never going to just take the opportunity to have somebody in your business that does it for you. There are people out there that can do that short term, long term, forever term, but just don't procrastinate it. Get on the horse and at least start posting on your social media and doing stuff as much as you can. But in the meantime, get on the horse with somebody like One Firefly or maybe there's somebody local. Like, we've got a local company that does our web design for us and handles all of our SEO campaigns, our Google Ads, and the effort is super minimal. They send out blogs, a couple of blogs every month for us on the website. And basically it's just I take 30 minutes an hour every couple of weeks to go through their blog outlines and approve them. It's minimal effort when you have somebody doing stuff like that. But I think it's important to have somebody internally that's focused on your marketing that can make sure that it's a personalized experience, not giving too much of a general kind of feel. You want to make sure that you're genuine.

Ron:  I completely agree. Curious on now, I'm going to ask you to pull out your magic eight ball now. So if you're going to look into the future, is there any buzz or talk inside your business around what's coming around the corner in terms of the economy? You mentioned we're in kind of this high inflationary state at the moment. I think the Fed's about to do another point 75 Fed rate increase. I think that's eminent. And I heard that this morning on social media.

Carson: Isn't that fun?

Ron:  Isn't that fun? Not if you're into volatile investments like I am. No, that's not fun. But it is what it is. And what is your prediction inside your business, if any, how that is going to affect you guys? And I'm going to use the big dirty R word, recession. Do you guys think about that or talk about that or is that too macro and you guys are operating in your micro local market? And do you try to correlate any of your marketing either spends or investments or strategies based on what you think is coming around the corner?

Carson: I think it's something thanks to 2008, I think it's something that's always in the back of everybody's mind. It's a fear that something will happen. But AIS was there in 2008. We weren't as prominent or anything. There wasn't a huge focus to be a successful business back then, but they were out there and they carried through just like so many businesses did. So there's ways to get through it. But yeah, of course I think that's something that should be on the back of everybody's mind. It's something that you should be prepared for. But at the same time, when you're dealing with the luxury clientele, I think it's important to directly target those because those are the clientele that are still going to be spending during recession or any period of inflation. There are people that are always shopping. It doesn't matter what it is. Maybe they're not buying new houses, but maybe they're like, oh, I'll save some money and remodel my house. They're still going to want technology upgrades, they're going to want technology installed. So if you're not marketing to those people now and then, recession potentially hits you're not going to be able to start. You're not going to have the funds to do it because you're already going to be scrambling. You're not going to have a head start on it. So basically focusing your efforts on it now is going to prepare you for the future. If recession doesn't happen, you're not preparing yourself to just float and grow a little bit. You're preparing yourself to catapult basically to catapult yourself even farther ahead. There's no lose to focusing your marketing efforts.

Ron:  Before we part ways here today. Carson what's one piece of advice that you'd give to anyone listening? One or two tactics that you think if they implemented it, it probably would make a positive impact on their business.

Carson: If you're not doing anything now, do something. And if you're not doing enough now, do more. Incorporate video it's huge, we talked about that. But give your people the opportunity to learn because there's so many people out there. You may have been in the business for 25 years and you know everything about the AV world, but I guarantee you that there's a good portion of your next door neighbors that have no idea what it is. Maybe one of your company van drags down the street and they're like home theater speakers projector. There's just so much more to what we do. What we do isn't install products and sell products. We are giving people an experience that they've never had before or something that they're craving. So educate is huge because that's what I've done for myself, and that's what's had a huge impact back in December of last year. I had no idea what we did. I thought Alexa was the tip of the iceberg and it's not even that. There's just so much more to it. And you have to expose people to who we are because there's not a lot of generational wealth in the younger generation. Like people my age, I'm 29. People my age don't have as much wealth as 30, 40 year old used to have in older generations. You got to build on that because eventually those people will have wealth. It might come a little bit later in different periods than we're used to, but you got to make sure and expose people to it because they're eventually going to be your customer.

Ron:  That's brilliant. There is a tremendous wealth transfer that's going to be happening over the next 20 years, and it's flowing to, hopefully, you and me. Carson I'm older than you, but I'm going to put myself into that age group because I'm the host. I get to do that.

Carson: Your $20 will be a good start for me.

Ron:  There you go. $20, that'll be the beginning. Carson thank you for coming on show 223. For those that want to follow you and or your business, Advanced Integrated Systems and what are the handles and how could they get in touch with you?

Carson: All right, so for Instagram, if you want Advanced Integrated Systems like Ron was saying, it's AISAVUtah. You can find us the same way on Facebook. If you want to find me, feel free to like and follow my personal pages. I'm happy to be friends with anybody. I like people, but yeah, just look for me. Carson Morby. There's not a ton of Carson Morby's out there. Carsonmorby, if you're interested in the barbecue stuff that I do, it looks like they posted a link to my website in the comments. But hit up my Instagram page just @yolkandmoke or my website. Yolkandsmoke.com, aisav.com is our website and yeah, I'm super active on LinkedIn. I'm on there pretty much every day. So follow me there network if you have questions. I'm willing to take advice to any conversations you want to have, I'm there. I think it's super fun to network and get to know people.

Ron:  Are you going to head out to CEDIA?

Carson: I won't be at CEDIA. I think our owners probably are headed out there where I'm kind of just a little more bottom of the totem pole. I don't think I'll get to make it out, but.

Ron:  Not this year.

Carson: I'd love to someday. I'm sure I'll eventually get out there.

Ron:  I don't know. I think you got to tell the owners that there would be some great social content you could produce if you were out there.

Carson: I'll bribe them with the $20.

Ron:  There you go. That $20 will go a long way.

Carson: I knew it was going to pay off.

Ron:  There you go. I love it, Carson. Thanks again, bud. Appreciate having you on the show.

Carson: Yeah, thanks for having me. It's a great experience. It was great to get to know you, too.

Ron:  Likewise. All right, folks, there you have it. Carson, I see you down there on my screen, don't leave. I'm going to sign off here and then we'll touch base. But for our folks tuned in, thanks for tuning in to another show. It was a lot of let me know what you think about guests like Carson. A lot of times we have the business owner and operator on automation unplugged and we haven't had as many folks with other positions inside of the business. We haven't had as many people that are newer to our industry. And remember, this show is produced entirely for all of you, the folks that are watching live or on replay and or tuning in on the podcast. This show is for you guys and gals, so definitely would love to hear from you what you think about this type of guest and we'll be sure to bring you more of what you find valuable if you have not already done so. Subscribe, Carson, you got to subscribe to the audio podcast even if you don't listen to audio podcast. That way you can get the benefit of seeing your name show up on your update next week. But look up Automation Unplugged and subscribe. That way you can make this content always available to you. And again, visit us at our website. And One Firefly will be at CEDIA. We're going to be actually at a ton of events. I'm going to go through it right now. We're going to be at Pivot to Profit and actually my team will help me with all the names and the dates, but that's the NSCA event. We'll be at Pivot to profit. I want to say it's in Dallas and then we're going to be at CEDIA and then we've got the HTSA conference, the Azione conference and the Total Tech Summit. So I will be there with my team in force at all of these events and I hope all of you can make it to those events. And if nothing else, if you listen to the show, stop by and say hi and maybe tell me what your favorite show is and tell me who you think should be on the show and we'll do our best to get those guests on. So I'm going to sign off for now. You all have an excellent rest of your week, and hopefully, hopefully I'll see you at the show here in the coming months. It's going to be active show season. Alright everyone, take care.

SHOW NOTES:

AIS was founded in 2000 as a design and installation firm for AV systems and automated home and business systems. Over the years, the company has grown from a 2-3 man operation into a crew of 15 full time employees with a design & engineering department and a 24/7 client care plan.

Carson joined AIS in December of 2021, and took over the role as Director of Marketing in early 2022. Since then, AIS has been scaling their growth by implementing a marketing plan targeted toward luxury clients. AIS continues to rapidly grow in the Northern Utah area, and is projected to more than double its annual revenue for the second consecutive year.

Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly became the leading marketing firm specializing in the integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team work hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution, Mercury Pro.

Resources and links from the interview:

Carson can be reached directly by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

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