Small businesses are the engine of our economy, but they face huge obstacles. Chief among them is the challenge of reaching potential customers. Most small businesses don’t have the marketing time, money or expertise to generate enough customer leads. And, to do this, they have to cut through all the noise made by better-known, better-financed large corporations.
There are plenty of digital marketing systems out there, but they are complicated, expensive, and, frankly, overwhelming. The Lead Building System was born out of Dan Grech’s own need to understand digital marketing in a simple, straightforward, repeatable, shareable way.
The worst moment in Dan’s business life – losing his job in public radio – was the seed of what he considers one of the most important creations of his life: a simpler way to approach digital marketing. It was also the seed of what has been one his greatest professional joys: being an entrepreneur who helps other entrepreneurs build their businesses.
Dan started his career as a newspaper journalist, doing internships at the Washington Post and Boston Globe while in college. Right after graduating, he started an internship with the Miami Herald, right around the time a that a 5-year-old boy from Cuba named Elián Gonzalez washed ashore, alone, on a raft. He spent much of his internship camping out in front of the Miami house where the boy lived, while the U.S. and Cuba, in a kind of replay of the Cold War, fought over whether Elián Gonzalez would be able to go home to his father in Cuba. As an intern, he was part of the Miami Herald’s Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the raid that eventually reunited the boy and his father.
That experience kicked off a 15-year gold-plated career in journalism, as Dan rose up the ranks at the Miami Herald, became a foreign correspondent based in Argentina, and then was hired by NPR’s “Marketplace” to cover Latin America for the show. Ultimately, Dan became one of the youngest news directors of a major news station at NPR’s Miami station, WLRN. The station’s news team won more than 200 awards.
Then one day, Dan suddenly lost his job due to budget cuts and found himself having to enact a complete professional reinvention. He realized that what he really loved was storytelling, and decided to reinvent himself as a business storyteller. Friends explained that this work is called marketing, and Dan decided he needed to learn digital marketing.
Dan thought it would take him a few months to learn digital marketing. He immediately started googling it and quickly realized digital marketing wasn’t something he could learn on his own. But there were no mid-career courses for people looking to transition into digital marketing (as there are, for example, for coding). Back in 2013, there weren’t any courses that met Dan’s needs.
On the strength of his storytelling skills, Dan got a job as a digital marketer, and gradually taught himself digital marketing. While working full-time, first as senior director of marketing for a billion dollar company, and then as vice president of marketing for a software startup, Dan used what he was learning to create and teach the first digital marketing course at Miami Dade College, the nation’s largest and most diverse institution of higher learning.
After a couple of years of working full-time and as an adjunct faculty member, Dan realized that he loved teaching more than he loved marketing. He quit both of his jobs and founded BizHack Academy to offer training in digital marketing that was designed specifically for small businesses. At BizHack, Dan continued to learn as he was doing, teaching people who were just a little bit behind him on the learning curve. He had no formal training in marketing – he learned through doing and teaching.
During seven years of teaching about digital marketing, Dan developed a completely original approach to it. This approach, the Lead Building System, is much simpler than the way marketing is typically taught and it really works. Dan also came to understand the importance of purpose-driven work, and shaped the Lead Building System to work especially well for businesses that intend to do good in the world. They use their business story as a way to articulate the value they bring to the world and as the authentic foundation for their marketing. This builds on what Dan learned as a journalist about the power of storytelling to bring something of value to the world.
The Lead Building System was built from the ground up, through teaching and learning from more than 1,000 companies.
It is the synthesis of everything Dan went through: his journalism career, learning how to market his own business and help others market theirs, and leveraging his unique skillset as someone who explains and simplifies complex topics. As a journalist, he explained immigration and business. Today, as a professional educator and thought leader, he takes one of the most complex, befuddling and difficult disciplines in business – marketing – and presents it in a way that’s easy to understand.
Albert Einstein has a line, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” That’s what Dan strives to do for digital marketing in this book.
BizHack has trained more than a thousand businesses in the Lead Building System. On average, businesses that enroll in its courses have a 29:1 return on their ad spending. But Dan is impatient to reach more small businesses, because most of them struggle with marketing and could benefit from having access to this system. The best way to reach more people, Dan decided, is through a book.