Today we’re talking with Mark Jeffries, co-founder and head of Partnerships at FamousInfluencer.com – one of the fastest growing tech startup and influencer PR agencies in London and Los Angeles.
How and where did you get the idea for your company?
I wish I could say I always had the idea of starting a PR agency but the truth is, 10 years ago I was flat broke, looking for a job and I couldn’t get anyone to hire me. One company gave me some part-time marketing consulting work. That’s where it all started. I just kept signing more clients and hiring people. All the while trying to figure out what the business was going to ultimately be. That’s where I met my experienced co-founder and we have grown ever since!
Who’s one person you’ve always looked up to?
My Dad. He taught me by example that you can accomplish anything you want in life – you just have to get up and do it. As a 29 year old Cuban immigrant with poor english, he became a home developer. He had no education or past experience but he didn’t know you needed it so he just did it. As a kid I always lived in neighborhoods where my dad had built all of my friend’s homes. I did not realize how crazy that was until I was in my 20’s. Another time he asked me if I knew where he could rent some violins and cellos. Apparently he was promoting a concert and the band who had flown in from another country needed instruments. He had never promoted a concert but he just did it and it was a big success. So I was always seeing him do these things he had no business doing and he did them well so I grew up thinking I could do the same thing. I had zero PR experience before starting my agency. It just never crossed my mind that it mattered. I would never had done it if I had parents who told me I needed certain qualifications or education to accomplish something. He also taught me the love of work. My Dad worked hard, but it never looked like it because he was having so much fun. So, I never think of work as being hard, I work a lot but I am always having fun. When my kids ask me if I am going to work, I say “No! I am going to play.”
What’s the most important action you took that you believe brought success to your business?
I can name 5 or 6 key things but if I have to pick one it would be the decision to laser focus on Influencer, E-Commerce and Tech PR at famousinfluencer.com When Jack Welch took over GE, he got rid of every business GE was not #1 or #2 (that could become #1 in 5 years). I knew I had to do the same thing. By focusing on something we knew we could be the best at, it allowed us to provide our clients with better results than any other agency in the space. We almost instantly had the competitive advantage. Most agencies think they can do PR for any industry and will accept business from anyone who will pay them. It took a lot of self-discipline to stay focused on CE when other industries were offering us money to do their PR, but I knew it would work out in the long run and it has. We are one of if not the most consistently fast growing agency in the country. This year will mark the 4th year in a row that we are on the INC5000 list of fastest growing companies in the UK. We hit on our “big idea” and since then, many more ideas that make us great have come from Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Jack Welch, Lew Wasserman and other captains of industry. I look for ideas outside the PR industry. That is the only way to build a business that is superior to what everyone else is doing. If you get your ideas from your competitors, you are just following them. I have pretty much ignored what my industry is doing. Most agencies are run very poorly with business models that do not really benefit the client or the employees.
What’s the number one tip you would offer to a young entrepreneur?
Figure out what you can be the best at. It might take a while but don’t give up. Also, never stop learning. I read(or listen to) about 20 books a year about business, management and personal development. If you want to be truly successful, you have to keep learning. College will not teach you what you need to know to be successful in business. All of my best decisions have been inspired by great books.
What are your 6 favorite online tools?
For our business at FamousInfluencer.com:
- Engadget/TechCrunch/Gizmodo/TWICE/Mashable – Great websites to keep current in the tech world
- Google Docs – It’s simple, but I love the ability to be able to have one master document on a particular project or initiative. I’m able to get a number of minds involved at any given time and not have to worry about who has the latest version. Simple, efficient and perfect.
- LinkedIn- In our business we’re talking to so many different people. The first thing I try to do is to connect via LinkedIN. This way I’m always current. I can congratulate you on a new promotion and follow you as your career progresses. It’s a perfect networking tool.
- WordPress – This platform has improved our ability to maintain our website 10 fold. We’re able to incorporate features, including individual client media centers, process tracking systems, multiple blog feeds and a number of other capabilities that would have been impossible in the past. Their functionality and user-friendliness is truly amazing.
- Webex & GoToMeeting – being a business who only has 2 -3 % of business in our same geographical region, these tools have been critical in our ability to present effectively. We firmly believe our time is best served actually doing PR, rather than spending days traveling for a 3 hour meeting.
- Skype- This has made teleconferencing simple and easy. It’s so widely utilized in our business that we’d be at a severe disadvantage without it.