#100: A Mini-Celebration and Something I Haven't Done Before - A REAL Struggle

Episode 100 - A Mini-Celebration and Something I Haven't Done Before - A REAL Struggle - The Creative Marketing Zone Podcast.png

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Howdy, everyone! Welcome to The Creative Marketing Zone Podcast! I am your host and chief creative officer, Eric Koch (rhymes with watch) and this is the weekly podcast for all things creative to help you build and grow professionally and personally.

Episode number 100!

Wow, where do I even begin?

This milestone actually crept up on me as I spent the past year and a half, week in and week out grinding to get this thing going and growing. And it has been quite a fun and sometimes stressful journey. But overall an awesome positive experience.

People often ask me why I wanted to start my podcast, which is a question I always ask people who are interested in starting their own.

My why behind this was not because I was out here trying to make a quick buck. This is definitely not the medium to do so.

Instead, my why behind this was to bring on guests who could share excellent marketing and business insights, build relationships with the guests, and grow a community one listener at a time.

All three of these I have been able to achieve thus far, which I am super proud of.

And for those regular listeners of the show, I always joke but I do cringe when I listen to the earlier episodes. I mean literally I was sweating profusely under my armpits and I often stumbled on my wording with a bunch of ums and uhs!

Over time, I got better, became more comfortable, had a lot more fun being me, and improved the quality of the show. This just goes to prove my point, which is to just get started and don’t wait for the stars to fully align. For as Mark Cuban once said, “Perfection is the enemy of profit.”

If you are interested in starting your own podcast or would like to know more about my experiences behind this then definitely feel free to reach out to me via email at Eric@TheCreativeMarketingZone.com. I’d be more than happy to share ins and outs.

But for today, I do want to celebrate this milestone, but also do something I haven’t yet done before, which is to open up a little bit more about my background, business, and the REAL struggles I have been battling lately.

In terms of my background, as some of you may already know, I did not start in marketing. I graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Virginia Tech, yes, but my first several year's post-college was spent in sales.

I smiled and dialed, beat the pavement, knocked on doors, dialed for dollars (not sure if these terms are even still used today) for several companies – many well-known ones like Capital One, GEICO, and Snagajob.

While I knew I did not want to be doing this the rest of my life, I did learn a lot from sales. I learned how to take no and not take it seriously. I learned how to read body language and how to handle objections and so much more.

It wasn’t until late 2011 in which I began my corporate journey into marketing. I landed a job with an agency working with B2B and B2G (business-to-government) clients in which we were doing some innovative/cutting-edge stuff at the time. I learned more about content marketing and improved my writing and social media distribution skills. I also got to learn more about the intricacies of running an agency - managing client expectations, billing, etc. It was a good positive experience for me. 

Then in 2013 I took on a role with Mister Kleen Maintenance Company, Inc. to help them with their marketing. Mister Kleen specializes in contract cleaning for high-security and commercial facilities in the D.C. metro region and I learned a ton working for these guys. This was my first experience working for a small business, which was cool as I got to wear a lot of hats. It was also my first job that I actually enjoyed. I didn't mind coming to work each day - there was always something new and exciting I was working on. 

In 2015, my old boss at the agency I worked at prior to Mister Kleen reached out to me. He started his own consultancy and was looking to hire me as a contractor to help him with some accounts. I agreed, and while this was happening I took on another subcontract account and started working on this business on the side. 

I was burning the midnight oil almost every night. I'd wake up at 4 or 5 am, work on the business or client accounts until 8:00 am, commute to Mister Kleen and work there until 6 pm, come home and get back to work on the business again. While I enjoyed this, though often stressful at times, my family life did suffer. 

Around mid-2016 is when I reached a point in which I could no longer sustain running this business on the side. I could not go off on my own as I had enough clients to pay the bills. I even reached out to my employer, Mister Kleen, and opened up about my situation and I took them on as a client as well, which was super awesome!

So from 2016-2018 I took on client accounts, managed the ones I had, and networked my butt off. But I realized that in order for me to grow and scale this business, I would need to keep taking on more clients, hiring staff, and increase overhead. This is not something I wanted to do for I feel like when I have too much on my shoulders is when I am not my best creative self. 

Instead, I took the approach of working to create this as a brand in which I focus on other areas of revenue growth. For instance, doing more strategy work for clients, affiliate marketing and partnering programs, sponsorships, product sales, etc. This is more of my foray.  

Now flash forward to 2018. 

2018 was a BRUTAL year for me. The year started out terrific as I was managing several client accounts and growing my business with additional income coming in from my social media for beginner’s course, which turned out to be a hit.

Then in April, I reached burnout status followed shortly thereafter of a failed marriage.

I can’t actually pinpoint the exact date in April, but I do remember this being the month in which I just completely collapsed behind the scenes.

I spent the past few years working tirelessly, burning the midnight oil, stressed, and avoiding time spent with my family. Eventually, this took its toll on me and by April of 2018 I was completely done – mentally and physically checked out and exhausted.

During this time I also just developed a weird mindset like an “I no longer give a crap mindset” kind of like how Peter Gibbons was in one of my favorite moves, Office Space.

I stopped caring about work, paying bills, and myself. I just gave up.

I also decided to end my 14-year marriage. I was not happy with my life, the decisions I made, and the family situation at home. Truth be told my marriage was on the brinks a few years before. My wife and I separated for a period of time and got back together unofficially. But things did not improve at all.

And I don’t blame her for everything as I definitely played a huge part in why our marriage failed as well.

This is the first time I have actually fully opened up about this on the show, but I did want to bring it up because it did have an impact on me personally and professionally.

Personally, the past several months, including February following my birthday I partied my ass off! I mean literally I was out a lot, and really just decided to go out and be a hot mess. Those closest to me know how crazy things got the past six or seven months.

This was also a period of time in which I started to begin falling in love with myself, slowly.

People often talk about the importance of self-love, and now I get it! This is definitely a process, and me sitting here talking about this is quite interesting I must say because for the longest time I totally neglected myself and my needs first. I always put others first, my entire life. And now that I have been on my own I discovered that it is truly okay to be me, prioritize me, and fall in love with me.

But saying it and doing it are two different things. It’s not like I just woke up one morning and was like, “I’m in love with myself!” Heck, I am still trying to fully tap into this. I spent years neglecting myself and this whole process of self- love does not just happen overnight.

I am a work in progress – always will be. And this year is my year of rebuilding, I claimed that from the start. I am really focused hardcore this year at rebuilding myself – health and finances included, which will set me up for next year – the year of breakthrough.

I truly do believe that in order to achieve breakthrough success something has to break. And I feel like I am going through that broken process now, which is good.

I am not someone who likes to dwell too much in the past. I believe in having no regrets, just lessons learned. And for me, what took place – good and bad the last 15 plus years were lessons learned.

So with that being said, I am presently working on a lot of things. This podcast, while it has been fun to operate, I am not sure if I will fully run this for the entire year or not. I am thinking of capping it off – season two as I call it – with 26 episodes.

I am still working on my first creative marketing book, which I am excited about. That is my big project of the year, and I still manage a few client accounts and do strategy consulting work for service-based business owners to pay the bills.

But of course, just paying the bills is not enough, right? I do have big plans that I am working toward, and the book is just one of them. I am not writing the book to bank a ton of money off sales, but as a tool to open up other opportunities such as more speaking gigs, workshops, bigger clients and revenue generating opportunities, etc.

Of course, I will keep you posted as this all progresses.

One of the big reasons why I am seriously considering capping off season two at 26 episodes is because I would like to focus my time on going on other podcasts. I often have guests on my show who are doing this whole podcasting tour as I like to call it where I may have been the 5th or 10th podcast they were on that week! This way I can further build my network and relationships and grow the business through strategic advertising.

The last final thing I am working on this year with the business is growing my revenue base through partnerships and referrals. I am in the process of working up a program that will allow me to pay out residuals based on referrals for my creative marketing roadmaps I am working on for clients. These are the step-by-step blueprint guides or roadmaps that lay out the step-by-step marketing strategies and tactics for coaches, consultants, and even fellow marketers.

I have also signed several partnering agreements with many of the business owners who have been on my podcast as well who I feel like have a great product.

I say all this because I recognize one of my strengths is connecting folks. I am also a big giver, and I love to give – sometimes too much which is something I am also working on.

And to come full circle, I am also incredibly good at building relationships that turn into long-term partnerships – e.g. sales, which I do enjoy that aspect of business development and growth.

Alright, guys, this is super short and sweet this week. I do realize I need to get back on the whole Instagram thing again. I literally took almost two months off and it felt great, which is weird to say. I do enjoy living life behind the scenes. It is hard for me to open up about things on here and on social media. Those closest to me have listened to me through phone calls, text messages, FB messenger, and more – I thank you all for your time.

Now it’s time to go out and do what I like to close out with, practice our ABC’s to success. Always be closing, yes, but also, always be creative and take action!

Thank you for tuning in as always and talk to you next week with a new and exciting guest featured on the show!