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August 19, 2021

Sabir x Habib Salo Part 2

Part 1: Art & Science of Scaling B2B Businesses with Habib Salo

The Issues You Encounter When You Scale Your Business

Scaling your business isn’t simply a case of increasing your budget and buying more products. If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it.

The more money you make, the more you put back into your business and the faster you grow.

Easy, right?

But nothing is ever that simple.

When you scale, your expenditure doesn’t always grow in proportion to your profits and can often spiral out of control, growing exponentially until your business is on its knees. By the time you realize your mistake, you’re in too deep and you’re desperately clinging on.

Take the average small-time e-commerce business as an example.

If you’re selling sauces and jams out of your own home, you don’t have many overheads to think about. It’s your home, you live there, so the rent you pay was going to get paid anyway. You’re using pots and pans that you already own and the time you invest in the business is your own.

The only thing you’re losing is the price of the jars/bottles and the product itself, but your margins can take care of that and ensure the profits keep rolling in.

When it’s time to scale your business, you may want to think about renting a large kitchen solely for your business operations. You can also buy products in greater quantities, saving more money in the process.

But you need to pay rent to keep that premises open, all that new shiny equipment costs money, and what about the maintenance, staff, and utility bills? Furthermore, while your margins will increase, you may also start dealing with larger wholesale buyers who will take all those margins away.

One of the biggest issues, however, concerns how you market your business.

If all of your customers are coming from online marketing, then scaling your business means throwing more money at those marketing platforms.

You’re constantly feeding a money-hungry machine and hoping that it will provide you with a positive ROI. Those Google Ads need to maintain a high click-through ratio, those Facebook Ads need to maintain a strong engagement score, because the faster you scale, the less margin for error you have.

This is something that Habib addressed in our interview.

He told me that most of Young Nails’ marketing budget was going toward regular features in trade magazines. The business had been following this model for so long that Habib naturally assumed all customers were coming from those magazines.

When that happens, you’re stuck in a quandary. You’re relying on high price advertising to generate a minor ROI and keep your business ticking over. The only way to know for a fact that it’s working is to take that money away, but if it was working, you’ve just lost the only thing that was keeping your business alive!

It’s like Schrödinger’s cat, and it’s a situation that many businesses find themselves in.

But this is not the ideal model for scaling your business, and that’s why Habib shifted his focus to YouTube and to social media.

He realized that he didn’t need to pay trade magazines an extortionate amount of money to keep his business alive, not when he could speak directly with his customers for free.

It was a big risk to take for a B2B company, but one that was carefully measured.

The assumption is that business to business companies need to take a more proactive route. They need to rely on trade magazines, trade shows, and other such avenues, because they’re dealing with businesses and not customers.

But those businesses are, in essence, customers. They are run by individuals, not insentient beings that only read trade mags and visit trade shows.

This is 2020. Everyone is connected, everyone has access to social media, and very few people read magazines or click on banner ads.

The best way to scale your business, therefore, is to take advantage of social media and to speak directly with your customers.

Scaling Your Business Through Social Media

One of the biggest eureka moments for Habib came when he was introduced to Casey Neistat, an OG in the YouTube scene.

Neistat began posting daily vlogs in March of 2015 and achieved massive success with the format, making him one of the biggest stars on YouTube.

Habib was introduced to Neistat a little late in the game, but he soon became obsessed with these vlogs and realized that he could do something similar himself.

After spending a few weeks practicing speaking to a camera and sending test videos to his team, he agreed on a regular blog format and decided that whatever happened, he would stick to that schedule.

At the time of writing, the Young Nails YouTube channel has uploaded over 1,000 videos and accumulated 306,000 subscribers. The most popular video on the account has over 1 million views and the channel receives close to 30,000 views a day.

According to Social Blade, if the channel was used to run sponsorships and Google Ads, it could generate over $30,000 a year! But to Young Nails, it’s worth so much more, as many of those 30,000 daily views are targeted.

Can I Do That?

Replicating Habib’s success isn’t easy, but as Habib states himself, it isn’t impossible either.

I often tell clients to be more active on YouTube and social media and one of the most common complaints I hear is that they simply don’t have the time. This is something that Habib can sympathize with, as he spent many hours editing his videos in the early days.

But the simpler your videos are, and the more you become accustomed to the process, the easier and quicker it will be. It’s also relatively cheap to hire an editor, especially when you consider the value that they can bring to the business.

As for filming the videos, you don’t need expensive sets and equipment; you don’t need grand video ideas.

Simple, informative, useful content works best, and this can be created with the most basic of equipment.

Every smartphone has an advanced camera these days, and you don’t need expensive lights and sets to get the ball rolling.

Habib began with some basic cameras. Casey Neistat did the same. It’s about the value that you add to the videos, not the equipment.

Be Consistent

In a recent interview with Neil Patel, a leading SEO expert, I discussed the importance of staying consistent. Not only does it give Google a reason to keep indexing your site, but it tells your consumers that you’re still active. You’re still alive.

Consistency is the little flag you wave that says “I’m still here. Pay attention to me”. It’s essential on the internet because relevancy is fleeting, and infrequency is forgettable.

For Habib, publishing regular content to his brand’s YouTube channel was just as important as getting the orders packed and shipped.

That’s a pretty big statement to make for a company as successful as Young Nails and for a CEO as involved as Habib, but it shows you just how much weight the big players are placing on consistency.

The thing about consistency is that it’s often misunderstood to mean “post every day” or “post ten times a day”. It turns into regular content regurgitated at a phenomenal rate and it becomes relentless.

The problem is, when you post like this two things happen:

Firstly, you start putting quantity before quality. Videos get shorter, posts lose their virality, and you find yourself creating content just for the hell of it.

We have a 20-minute video taking an in-depth look at a key industry problem? Let’s boost it with an additional 10 minutes of filler and make it a three-part series. Got a new promotion? Let’s spam the hell out of it until our customers regret the day they subscribed to us.

Secondly, you will eventually burn out. It’s something that countless YouTubers and influencers experience and it comes from constantly feeding into the social media machine.

You spend your days creating, editing, posting, and then interacting, and before long, you’re desperate for a break and begin to hate every aspect of your working day.

Neither of these things is good for the long-term health of your business, but consistency means regularity, not obsession.

To begin with, Habib posted just two YouTube videos a week and one Instagram post a day. It was perfectly doable for him, and he could find time to create, edit, and post even with the demands of being a CEO for a leading beauty company.

Today, Young Nails posts 60 to 70 pieces of content a day—enough to fill the days of even the quickest and most dedicated social media experts.

But he didn’t get there immediately and he only made that transition when it made sense for him to do so.

If you’re publishing your first pieces of content and only just starting to scale your business, you don’t need to produce 60 pieces a day. You might not even need to produce 1 piece of content a day.

The trick is to find your level, one that allows you to publish content regularly but without interfering with your other tasks or placing too much pressure on your day-to-day. When you have that level, stick with it.

Habib notes that the idea of publishing two YouTube videos a week and one Instagram post a day became law at Young Nails. It didn’t matter if he was under the weather or under a bus, he was posting that content!

It’s this consistency, this regularity, that really matters.

Over time, you will learn some tricks of the trade. You’ll have a better understanding of the content production process and the needs of your audience.

You’ll be faster, better, more productive, and you may also have the income to warrant hiring editors, writers, and content producers. Only when you reach that stage should you consider increasing your content production and getting anywhere near Habib’s level.

Be Persistent

In terms of tech knowledge and familiarity, there isn’t a great difference between Gen Z and Millennials. In fact, these days, the average person under 60 is pretty adept at using computers and phones and while they might not be up to date with the latest apps, they certainly have a good grasp of how they work.

However, when it comes to interacting with cameras, there is a huge gulf between those in Gen Z and those in pretty much all older generations.

If you’re 35 or older and haven’t spent your life in Skype/Zoom calls, you probably feel a little strange talking to cameras. You may hate the sound of your own voice when you hear it back and feel like a crazy person when you record yourself on your phone.

It seems to be second nature to younger generations but is still very alien to those who weren’t born with iPads in their hands and YouTubers on their walls.

The good news is that you’re not alone, and it’s far from unusual.

In fact, it’s something that Habib also struggled with when he first got started. He told me how he hated hearing his own voice back on the recordings and struggled with anxiety when first making videos.

But like everything else, this fear and awkwardness disappears in time.

It’s all about persistence; staying the course.

Not only will you feel more comfortable making videos, posting pictures, recording podcasts, and generally putting yourself out there, but you will also get better at it.

It’s not just about feeling comfortable, either, as persistence is also key for the progression of your content marketing plan.

For Habib, the early months were particularly scary because the vlogs didn’t work straight away. In fact, Young Nails Inc saw its subscriber base drop substantially and its sales soon followed.

Rather than cut his losses, Habib persisted, and after 9 months, things turned around and sales began to improve again. Not only did they return to their previous levels, but they soon exceeded them, and this happened without the need for massive marketing budgets and expensive features in trade magazines.

9 months may seem like a long time, but lasting success doesn’t come easily or quickly and in the grand scheme of things (the business has been active for more than two decades) it’s a drop in the ocean.

Your content may not get instant results for your business, but if you are producing good, informative content and you’re confident that you’re doing the right thing, keep doing it. Things will gradually turn in your favor and when they do, you can start reaping the rewards.

Tricks For Making More Content

In our interview, Habib provided some insights into how Young Nails can produce such vast swaths of content without hiring a large media team or working himself to the bone.

One of the ways they do this is by arranging a single day for video content production and using this to create “pillar content”.

This is the main content, the cornerstone of the company’s content marketing plan. It’s shot, cut, and posted to YouTube, but from there, the video is also cut into multiple little clips.

These clips can then be posted on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and everywhere else, creating dozens of content snippets that will fill the company’s social media pages for the next week (or until the next video is shot).

The cornerstone content can also be transcribed and turned into blog posts, and from these blogs, snippets can be extracted and used on social media, marketing tag-lines, and everywhere else.

It’s a content mill, and it all begins with a single video that spawns dozens of posts across multiple platforms.

How To Handle Volume

Of course, all of that is easier said than done. Shooting a video is easy if you have an expert producer and editor, as well as someone writing your scripts. Chopping, editing, and re-posting is a breeze if you just need to delegate and wait.

But what happens if you don’t have those teams or the budget to hire them?

This is a question that I put to Habib and he told me that the answer is to, “Start doing it”. It sounds like an oversimplification, but it’s true, because as noted above, it’s all relative and it all has to start somewhere.

If you can create one video a week, and from that video, you can create five clips and one blog post, that’s more than enough. You’ll have one YouTube video that you can share on multiple social media platforms and you’ll also have clips to share every weekday. On the weekend, you can work on your next video and then repeat the cycle.

For many people, it’s not about lacking time, it’s about not understanding just how much time they are wasting every day and how much more productive and efficient they can be.

To paraphrase what Habib told me during our interview, “The time is there. You just need to sit down and actually plot it and plan it”.

Think about it: How much of your day is spent being productive?

Are you actually working when you’re “busy”? Sure, being busy can mean working flat-out from morning until night, stopping only for food and toilet breaks, and then passing out as soon as your head hits the pillow. But for many, busy means spending a few hours working, a few more hours procrastinating (browsing Facebook, online shopping, chatting with friends) and then enjoying some rest/play time.

One of my personal favorite productivity hacks for hard-working professionals is to eliminate the “got a minute?” question from your workplace. How many times are you asked this question on a daily basis and how many times do the resulting conversations actually provide you with something useful or productive?

A “got a minute?” request is usually followed by hesitancy, humming and harring, and a resolution that doesn’t go anywhere. Instead, turn “got a minute” requests into actual fruitful conversations that last 5, 10, or even 20 minutes.

The next time someone asks you this, tell them to go away, think about what they’re going to say, gather more questions and more thoughts, and then come back to you for a longer and more in-depth conversation.

You’ll find that you’re wasting less time on pointless and fruitless endeavors and spending more time having productive conversations actually benefit your business or further your professional life.

It’s Not All About Views And Followers

Sometimes, success can be misleading, and a business isn’t always going in the direction you think it is.

There are a number of business YouTube accounts that spend a lot of money creating viral content and generating a huge number of views and subscribers. But if those views are from people who can’t or won’t buy your product, what’s the point?

It’s better to have 1,000 subscribers in your specific niche than 100,000 general subscribers who have nothing to do with your niche. This is especially true for B2B companies, because you’re focusing your attention on businesses and not consumers.

As an example, let’s suppose that you run a testing and processing business targeted towards brands in the alcoholic drinks sector.

You could probably get a lot of engagements by creating fail compilations depicting drunk people falling over and doing stupid things.

You might get a lot of views, a few of your videos could go viral, and you can convince yourself that it’s all relevant and important because it has a tenuous link to your brand.

But do you really think that major executives in the beverage industry are going to be watching your videos? And if they do, why would they associate your brand with a professional company they should hire to test their products?

It would make more sense to create videos that show your facilities, highlight the brands you have worked with, and showcase the services you provide. You can still make content watchable without resorting to cheap tricks and without appealing to the lowest common denominator.

Give Your Followers Value

Take a look at the Instagram page of a small company in your local area.

What do you see?

If it’s like the millions of other small business Instagram pages, it’s probably littered with promotional material highlighting how amazing that company’s products are.

Now, take a look at what some bigger and more successful brands are doing.

Contrast and compare and you will notice a shockingly stark difference.

The smaller, struggling companies use platforms like Instagram as a means of advertising their products for free. They see this platform as an extension of Google Ads and think that by spamming enough glossy ads and coupon codes, they’ll increase their followers and get a bunch of new sales.

Larger brands, however, understand that no one uses Instagram to be bombarded with ads. They use it to be entertained, to be informed, and, in many cases, to be distracted from their day-to-day lives.

If you’re bored out of your head and walking down the street, how will you react when someone jumps out in front of you, flashes a placard in your face, and yells promotional offers at you?

You’ll ignore them. And if it happens every day, you’ll eventually get so good at ignoring them that you won’t even see them anymore.

On the flip side, if someone pulls you to the side to shows you some new and amazing technology, you’ll be excited, enticed. If they try to sell you a product after a fun 30-minute demonstration, you won’t care!

Effective content marketing is all about providing value. You need to draw them in, get their attention, and keep them hanging on, as opposed to simply throwing a multitude of adverts at them and hoping that something sticks.

Active Vs Passive

Your Instagram page doesn’t have to be all valued content. You’re still operating a business and if you want to keep those profits high, you need to promote your content to your followers eventually.

This is where the Active/Passive rule takes over.

Active content is anything that actively targets your followers with promotional messages and product offers, while passive content is something that adds value, whether that be in the form of an educational how-to or an entertaining video or story.

How you balance the ratio is entirely up to you, but it’s best to keep the passive content high, preferably around 98%.

In the street analogy mentioned above, this is akin to handing that person a book or CD or engaging in a meaningful conversation every day for 6 weeks and then, after establishing a relationship, giving them a promotional coupon for your products.

At that point, they know who you are and what you do, and as a result, they are more inclined to listen to everything that you have to say and buy anything that you have to sell.

If you flip that, and bombard someone with promotions every day for 6 weeks and then try to engage them in meaningful conversation, they’ll just ignore you.

Passive content builds trust, active content utilizes that trust to sell a product or a service.

It makes sense when you look at things subjectively, but that’s a stance that few companies are able to take. They treat Instagram like they treat Google Ads and expect to see an instant return on their marketing, when in fact it should be treated more like SEO, with the return coming over the long-haul.

Make It Relevant

Habib admits that things didn’t go smoothly for him when he first started creating content. His devotion to the schedule led him to create content that wasn’t always relevant to his business, which in turn led many of the company’s existing subscribers to ask him what he was doing and to wonder why Greg (Habib’s older brother) wasn’t letting his younger brother take control.

I have used the SEO analogy a few times in this post and it can be used again here. The difference is that you’re using relevancy to ensure you build an appropriate customer base and not to keep Google on your side.

If you’re wondering how you can make a B2B company relevant on a platform that appeals to a general audience, don’t be. Instagram is not limited to super-attractive fitness models chugging protein shakes and draping themselves over sports cars.

It’s a platform that welcomes everyone. In that sense, it works a lot like Facebook, only instead of groups and pages, it keeps everyone nestled in their niches using hashtags.

If content ideas are what you’re struggling with, here are a few tips to help you get started:

1. Look At Your Competitors

Let’s be honest, as great as originality is, it’s a dying art in this overly saturated world of big business. You can’t have an idea that a million other businesses haven’t already had, so use this to your advantage, check what your competitors are doing, and see if it is working for them.

Remember, it’s not just about views. It’s difficult to understand how effective a marketing campaign is based purely on an Instagram post, but the number of comments and likes can help, as can the things that those commenters are saying.

SEO tools may also offer some assistance here, providing insights into where a website’s hits are coming from and whether those hits convert or not.

2. Stylish Pictures

No one wants to see an image of your CEO standing in front of a bathroom mirror and pulling a duck face. However, they might be happy to see an image of your team enjoying themselves on an outing or having fun in the office.

While the idea sounds the same, one of these pictures has very little appeal to the average user and no appeal to targeted users, while the other can be enjoyed by anyone who has ever worked in an office or in a team.

You can also snap pictures of your products and services, providing you’re adding value. For instance, why not show your customers how they can use your product or get more from it? If you’re selling a supplement, beverage, or food product, post some recipes that make use of your product in new and interesting ways.

3. Community Posts

The more your customers interact with you, the easier it will be to create relevant and useful posts.

For instance, if you get a lot of questions about your company, you can compile all of these into a video FAQ or even post them as a series of images.

4. Competitions

Everyone likes free stuff, and if all they have to do to qualify is like, share, or follow, they’ll be more than happy to oblige.

The trick with competitions is to make them as targeted as possible, giving away a product or a service that won’t appeal to the everyday consumer, lest you get a glut of followers that will not interact with your future posts and will stop following you as soon as the competition is over and they realize they didn’t win.

5. Re-Post

If you’re using Instagram or Facebook, don’t be afraid to re-post something that has worked for you in the past. The old rule of “only post original content” only works for Google and is irrelevant when it comes to social media networks.

Just don’t overdo it, as your followers will get frustrated if they see the same posts over and over again. It also doesn’t work with YouTube videos—once your video is live, there’s no need to repost it.

You can, however, change the tags, the description, and even edit the content for a quick refresh.

Where Should You Focus Your Content?

When I asked Habib which platform he would recommend first, he highlighted Instagram.

The great thing about Instagram is that it’s easy to post pictures and short-form video, as well as blog snippets, promotional images, and pretty much anything else you want. It’s also one of the fastest-growing platforms and works in perfect synergy with the other networks.

Of course, Habib also recommended YouTube, describing it as the perfect platform for long-form content such as how-to videos and podcasts.

For B2B companies, LinkedIn is also essential. This is where professionals gather. It’s the virtual equivalent of old school networking events and is great for making strong, lucrative lifetime connections.

Once you’re up and running, you can start folding other platforms into the equation, bringing in applications like TikTok, Snapchat, and even Facebook.

It’s important to remember that the landscape is constantly changing, and you should never be scared of experimenting with new platforms. If you have an idea, a plan, try it out. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter; you can move onto another platform.

The great thing about social media networks is that everything is free, everything is experimental, and if one doesn’t work for you then maybe another one will.

The rise of TikTok shows you just how fast things are changing. Not too long ago, Vine was one of the biggest and most exciting platforms out there. This disappeared and gave way to Musical.ly, and then TikTok took over.

If recent news is to be believed, TikTok could be on its way out soon, at which point people will just move onto another new platform and you’ll have another chance to experiment.

The $100,000 Question

As always, at the end of my interview with Habib, I asked him the $100,000 question.

What is your $100,000 advice—the one piece of advice you could give to B2B businesses looking to scale and become as successful as Young Nails Inc.?

According to Habib, it’s all about “Now”. Tomorrow isn’t good enough. Start posting today, start the wheels of content creation turning, because the sooner you start, the sooner you can become familiar with the process and start reaping the rewards.

Remember the points discussed above and start today:

  1. Create a schedule and make sure you stick to it.
  2. Stop focusing on views, likes, and subscribers, and focus only on creating good content.
  3. Make everything relevant to your audience and industry.
  4. Keep an eye on your analytics and see how this evolves over time, accounting for elements such as click-through rates and conversions.
  5. Don’t be afraid to drop expensive advertising if it’s not working for you. You can funnel your efforts into a new content marketing regime.
  6. Persist and don’t give up just because it doesn’t work straight away.
  7. Don’t try to do too much too soon. Stick with an amount that you are comfortable with and only increase it when you are ready.
  8. Add more content over time, incorporating additional social media networks like TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter.
  9. Experiment with new networks and don’t be afraid of failure.
  10. Last but not least, don’t be controversial just for the sake of it and if you’re hiring someone to post your content for you, make sure you vet them until you know you can trust them.

About Our Guest

Meet Habib Salo. Habib is the CEO of Young Nails Inc, manufacturer of professional nail care products. Habib joined the family business when it was still a local cosmetology supply company in 2001. With a unique background in music and science, Habib understands the importance of a fluid creative process and a strict organizational structure as key to a successful business in the beauty category. As CEO, his strategic vision has led the company to record growth transforming Young Nails into a major player within the US and international professional nail care industry. 303,000+ Subscribers on YouTube with 30 million views. Join us and learn how Habib scaled his family B2B business using social and digital media.

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