Below is a brief excerpt of my conversation with Kasim Aslam. We talk the future of google marketing and a great conversation about business and marketing in general. Kasim is the founder of Solutions 8 the top Google Ads agency in the United States.
Adam: What in business and marketing are you good at?
Kasim: I think I’m very comfortable with failure and I’ve failed at everything twice. Now, it just doesn’t bother me anymore. Also humility aside, I own the number one, Google Ads agency on the planet. I’ve got a team of 70 people. We have 200 clients, we have $54 million in observation or management. Nobody knows what I know about Google Ads. What’s cool is when you run Google Ads for a bunch of companies, you get to see what makes companies work and maybe more to the point, what makes them fail.
Adam: I love what you said about failing and I’ve always been a fan of the phrase, “The Master is only the Master because he has failed more times than the student has yet to attempt to succeed.”
Kasim: I resonate with that phrase. I figured you too, but by doing so you approach things in a different way than most people do and I think that’s something I’ve always admired about you so I appreciate you saying that. I sometimes have a very difficult time in my role because I’m spending money on people’s behalf and there’s a fiduciary responsibility there. But sort of naturally, which ended up working in my favor is, I manage expectations to death. If you tried to hire me today, I’d say, “Hey, listen, Adam, 50% of all Google Ads campaigns fail in the first 90 days.”
It’s not unlikely that we get to the 91st day and this hasn’t qualified for whatever reason. I’m gonna throw you in a coliseum with a bunch of your competitors and we’re gonna see whether or not your messaging, your market, your product, or service, and your pricing, are adequate. What that’s done has allowed me to reverse engineer something akin to we’re going to build the bridge as we cross it.
I think that’s the only way to solve problems. So many entrepreneurs set out to say I’m going to go fix this now, which is okay, but it’s also a recipe for disaster and frustration. All I want to do is get that first solid step, then if I’m on that first solid step, then bam, I’ve got a beach head, and then I go and I look for my second solid step and it’s slow incremental improvement. It frustrates a ton of people man, and maybe if I was better at solving problems in their entirety, I’d be wealthier or I’d have more businesses or whatever, but this is a really safe way to approach building anything because it’s so foundational and so rock solid.
Adam: I love that. I think that’s one of the things, you found your “Zone of Excellence”. But again, you still experiment, which I think a lot of people don’t. They don’t bother to step outside those boundaries because, I know you know one of the things within the last year, you talk about what you did with the Montessori schools. If you wouldn’t mind sharing it, I just think that’s a phenomenal strategy. It shows that you’re a specialist in Google Ads, but here you are suddenly developing an entirely new system for Montessori schools.
Kasim: I have this theory about niching down and I’ll be super quick. It’s ancillary to what you just asked me, but I think it’s relevant to the conversation at large. I think there are two axis of analysis when it comes to niching down. There’s niching down from a service perspective and niching down from an industry perspective and you end up with crosshairs. So if you know what service you’re offering, you can then go find one industry you can offer it to. I don’t think you should niche down both. I think you should niche down one at a time. And if you don’t have a strong influence over an industry, I think you should choose your product to service first.
We niched down with Google Ads, and bam, I’ve got it. Then the next question I ask myself is, “What are the industries I want to go serve, that which I feel I could be hyper-productive with?” And Montessori came up because I’m obsessed with Montessori education. It’s the only system of pedagogy based on the scientific method and I feel like every child deserves a Montessori education. So I thought how do I go help Montessori schools grow?
Then we created this sub-brand entity completely independent from my actual business, Nido Marketing and we’re helping Montessori schools. It was killing it up until COVID, and COVID wiped off 30% of Montessori schools and they closed their doors. It was catastrophically damaging, so I sent this email called the “I wish” email, and I said type the words “I wish” and then continue the sentence for me. What do you want right now?
It doesn’t have to be marketing related. It can be finances, operations, personnel, whatever, just give me anything. I got a couple of hundred responses, of which there are only 4,500 accredited Montessori schools in the country, so a couple of hundred responses were significant.
From that, we created this thing called Montessori Thrive, and all we do is aggregate all the resources that they’re creating themselves, white-label them, and make them available to everybody. Then now you’ll have all these little, teeny, tiny independent schools where one school has a really good enrollment agreement and the other school has a really good photo release form. The other school is really good at Social, but they don’t talk. They don’t have the time to share this.
So we did it for them and they sent us the stuff and we put it in a collective library, and now we have tens of thousands of assets that we give away for free. Other people would look at that and be like you’re not going to make any money there. But now I have trust. I have my finger on the pulse and I know what it is that they want and need. Nido Marketing has never done better. It’s such a profitable little entity for me and I touch it a half-hour a week.
Adam: I absolutely love it. And that would apply to so many industries. There are some ways you just collect and grab any audience. I was telling some martial arts schools about you.
Because I was speaking at a martial arts mastermind, and I was like martial arts schools, you should do this. Get all the martial arts schools, you share your resources, and now you’re in communication with every martial arts school which you can use as a platform for leverages. So many people could do this right now, fitness, health & wellness, coffee shops, HVAC.
Kasim: All these little industries that you don’t really think about. Like why don’t landscapers collaborate and connect? Because creating a really good website is hard. Also, 99% of landscapers don’t have good websites. Well, what if that content was available to every landscaper with some geo exclusivity allowed, so you’re not helping your competitors?
I just feel like there’s a really big opportunity for people to niche down into small micro industries that are neglected because they don’t have the money to pony up 10 grand a month for a real agency. And believe it or not, how most Google Ads agencies work. I, they don’t normally do this kind of stuff. . So when I’m talking about you being outside the works, I love your humility. Um, and it’s, uh, that’s one of the, your supervisors, which I, I really respect and I really love, and I think, you know, that’s, that’s kind like when I was, you know, doing dating, I had my dating company back in the back in the day, everyone’s like, oh, you gotta talk to this dating expert, that dating expert.
Adam: I joined a real estate mastermind and everyone was like, why are you joining a real estate mastermind? I said because I want to do something different to what everyone else is doing. I want to take the techniques that are working in real estate and apply them to dating. No one could even comprehend that. I said, you don’t understand, this is going to be a different business model.
It’s not gonna be what everyone else comes up with, and sure enough, one of the strategies I came up with was buying property by having students pay to live in an accommodation near good locations for dating. So they would rent it and prepay for a room in a house to share with a bunch of other guys, all committed to go dating every single weekend.
Kasim: Do you know who Jeff Hoffman is? Co-founder of Priceline, a wicked sharp guy, I once saw him speak. He’s worth like a hundred million dollars. He shows up on stage in his pajamas and I’m thinking, who is this cat? Then he says like the 10 smartest things you’ve heard all year.
Jeff told this story when we were all sitting down at dinner where he talked about info sponging when he’s at the airport. He is obsessed with getting information from areas that he wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.
So one day he’s at the airport and he buys this Latina magazine, a magazine for Latina females and the gal selling the magazine almost didn’t want to sell. Then he goes, don’t worry. This is what I do. And his next $30 million idea came out of that magazine. It’s all about the information that you’re not exposed to that’s most valuable to you.
Adam: When I meditate, that’s my mantra. My mantra is “What do I not know that I need to know?” And then actually I never say the second half usually, and the second half is “And how can I find it?” I meditate on the first half and then afterward, I go and find whatever the thing is.
I’m constantly exposing myself or trying to expose myself to people I wouldn’t normally meet or industries I wouldn’t normally interact with. My last speaking gig was at a roofing contracting company because I wanted to see what the construction industry’s doing for roofing because it’s a growing industry.
And I thought, I don’t know anything about it but I need to know about it. Am I gonna do anything in construction with roofing? Probably not, but it exposes you to new ideas and you realize there’s an entire market here. And what I didn’t know is that many roofing salespeople drive Lamborghini’s, not something that you’d think about, but it turns out that in certain areas in America where there are hailstones roofs need to be replaced.
Kasim: I’ve got a buddy. That’s so funny. I’ve got a buddy who does that? He drives a supercar. It’s not a Lamborghini. But I always thought he was a one-off and he somehow cracked the code and knew what he was doing.
What’s the secret to Google Ads?
Adam: So the big question. What’s the secret to Google ads? Let’s say I’ve got five or six people I could refer today that I know are desperate for leads. What does it cost? How does it work?
Kasim: Just from an insider perspective. Google just made the biggest change they’ve ever made. It’s the biggest paradigm shift in the history of marketing. It’s bigger than when Facebook added ads to the newsfeed. You’re gonna hear me talk about this at War Room, by the way, if you’re going to be at War Room. What’s interesting too is nobody knows. It’s frustrating me, but I’m also really excited about it because I think I’m 24 to 36 months ahead of the curve and I’m trying not to be hyperbolic.
I know I get excited, everybody thinks that Google is search and that’s all. Google is a mechanism to predict human intent. Google is not a search engine, although it is that too. But Google is Google Analytics, which is on 99% of all front-facing websites, which means it knows where you go, what you do, where you log into, et cetera. Google is Google apps, Google photos. It knows what your children look like. It’s Gmail. It knows how you speak. It knows your semantic architecture. It knows your level of education. It knows your relative income, Google maps. It knows how fast you drive.
YouTube second largest or largest VI repository on the planet. Second largest search engine. Facebook has 55,000 demographic and psychographic profiling factors. Google has 70 million. Google told a woman she was pregnant before she knew she was pregnant. That was April of 2015, solely on her search and communication patterns, seven years ago. Moore’s law says that machine or computing power doubles every 18 months.
Google knows what you’re going to do before you do it and it’s based on a myriad of factors. One example I like to use is we know for a fact that women who are divorced over 40 spend twice as much on shoes as any other demographic. So what happens when Sally gets an invite to a wedding in her Gmail? What does Google know to put in front of her? Do you know what I mean?
There’s all these little catalytic events to the tune of 72 million. Google just opened up that segmentation to us through something called Performance Max. It’s a keyless advertising type instead of going to Google if you’re a roofer for instance, bidding on a roofing contractor near me and paying $70 for that click and hope to God that you’ll convert.
Now picture a keyword list and advertising mechanism. What you’re going to do is you’re going to tell Google what the goal is. For example, I want somebody to call, fill out a form, schedule an appointment, buy this thing, book whatever, as the goal. Then you’re going to give Google a whole collection of assets. Here are text images, videos, and pages on your website. And then you’ll give Google an audience.
So for roofers, we’re going to say, homeowners in the top 10 or 20% of income level, and then Google goes out and it captures these people for you. It’s an outbound marketing mechanism, the Google Display Network, which is 90% of all internet users on the planet. 65% of whom are breached on a daily basis. It’s the most prolific thing in the world, and I’ve never seen anything work better.
I have 200 clients, but like 65 of them have Performance Max campaigns running. And as a ubiquitous truth, not one isn’t outperforming the previous campaign times. It’s the biggest shift in marketing history. So run Performance Max and trust Google, it’s nuts. You don’t even tell Google where to send the traffic. You Google your website and through URL expansion, Google decides where to send the traffic with your assets.
It creates the ads for you. It builds the funnels for you. And it’s based on a 500-touch paradigm. So everybody who thinks it’s click-to-conversion, they’re so lost. They’re a decade behind you need to drip on people 500 times before they buy and Google’s building that narrative anyway,
Adam: I love this because the point and it makes sense. I remember once in springtime it was seven touchpoints and it went to 12 then 21. The seven touchpoints came from a Harvard University study from the seventies. Then I know that it was like 21 touch points like 10 years ago or something. So now 500 touch points.
Kasim: What you need to do too is give Google all the content. So if somebody’s going to do roofing again, just because that’s the example that came up before, somebody buys a roofing contractor, they need to know what they don’t know. So you need to provide them what it asks for, like, based on where you are geographically, here are the different types of roofs, here are the grades that you would need. I’ve got a 90-pound roof because you need to nurture them all the way.
So like videos, content, blogs, downloads, calculators, and case studies. We’ve been lazy as marketers. But if you give Google all of that, you don’t even have to decide where it’s used, Google’s going to create it for you. It’s unbelievable, man.
Adam: Did you hear the big Google AI change in the last couple of days? They just came forward and made a statement saying AI is spam. I’m on a bunch of AI groups and they’re all freaking out because Google’s announced they’re going to train their AI to spot AI writing and label and blacklist the sites and say this site is using AI as spam
Kasim: That actually only helps me and I know that sucks for a lot of people, but it’s better for all of my clients. I got to tell you, man, I think marketers have gotten lazy. I think that we’re going to go back to the basics. Content is king, value first, and then, you have to deliver a product.
You have to love people. You have to treat people with respect and actually do what you say you’re going to do because there’s nowhere to hide. So really good businesses are going to flourish and those overnight, let me throw up a landing page and say something I just bought from China is going to fail. And it should.
Adam: So to, to deviate back, if I want them to do my ads, how much money do they need to bring realistically?
Kasim: $1500 plus 10% of the ad spend is my fee. That 10% gets knocked down as your spend increases at various thresholds. Once you hit $50k, $100k, $150k, $1 million, the minimum that I charge, if you’re past a million dollars in spend is 4% of your ad spend. But now you have to be in, 7 or 8 figure mark.
Adam: $1500 plus 10%, what kind of ad spend would be needed?
Kasim: I can see like $10k a month. Now you can be successful in Google ads for under $10k. I’ve seen a lot of people do it. But it won’t justify my fee because if you’re spending three grand, you’re paying me to sit there and watch and there’s not enough data for me. We’ve optimized off of something called the Statisticians model, which is the base 100 rate, which means I need a hundred impressions before I can make a decision about the clicks.
I need a hundred clicks before I can make a decision about the interaction happening on the page. I need a hundred leads before I can determine lead quality. And if you’re spending 2, 3, 4 grand, I’m making 2, 3, 4 decisions at maximum a month. So I need you to spend $10k.
Now if you’re a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles, you’re going to need $100k. Do you know what I mean? So it’s very industry-specific, but most industries and I mean like 90% of them, you can build proof of concept if you need to spend $10k a month for 90 days.
At the end of 90 days, I’ll tell you whether or not it’s going to work. There’s no guarantee that does work. Anybody who promises that is lying to you, but we’ll know whether or not it works. And then from there, you scale it up. My agency’s called Solutions8 and we try to be a full-funnel agency. We wanted to have eight service offerings doing SEO and content and video and software. What I realized over time is I can’t be good at all these things.
It was my business partner that identified the pros of Google. Here’s something to think about: when we were a full-funnel agency, all of the clients that were successful with us were successful with Google first and my business partner, John, he identified that. The reason for it is obvious when you think about it, when you can be successful in Google Ads, Google Ads are closest to the bottom of the funnel.
It’s the strongest indication of intent we have. And it means that your messaging resonates with your audience. It means you actually answer your phone. It means that you fulfill, it means you’re charging enough to justify the expense, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. In the beginning, we didn’t niche down to Google Thinking. That would be the only service we offered. We used Google to figure out which clients to invest in further.
And then we just got so good at Google that we just stayed there. Now we are, you know, we created the Paid Traffic Certification for DigitalMarketer.
Adam: What do S.M.A.R.T Businesses do?
Kasim: Fail forward. Many clients, if they fail at something, they stop and they’re like, oh, that didn’t work. But even if it failed by 95%, there’s a 5% that worked. So capture that and live into it and then try it again. And now 90% fails, but then you have 10% that works, and so on and so forth. I’m stealing this from John C. Maxwell – Failing Forward, I think is the most important skill set that you can use.
To listen to the full episode of the most comprehensive podcast about strategically building and growing your business, the S.M.A.R.T way, click on any one of these platforms and subscribe!
- John C. Maxwell – Failing Forward
- Paid Traffic Certification for DigitalMarketer
- Google Thinking
- Google AI
- Harvard University study
- Performance Max
- Google Display Network
- Search Engine
- Moore’s Law
- War Room
- Jeff Hoffman
- Erik Van Horn
- Nido Marketing
- Montessori Thrive
- Zone of Excellence
- Google Ads