Today we have John Bagwell a Vietnam War veteran with a purple heart, and Bronze Star with V device. John was a disc jockey in Vietnam. And he was a part of the only American Forces Radio or TV Station to be taken by the enemy. There were 9 of them. Five were taken prisoner, three were killed and John managed to escape. While behind enemy lines the next 2 days, he escaped death 12 times 6 of those from the enemy and 6 times from the Americans were they did not know he was an American.
Tracy: John thank you for your service to the country. It is an honor to interview you. What was your entry point to Entrepreneurialism?
John: After leaving the Army, I took a job as a disc jockey for a radio station in Odessa, Texas working the 6 to midnight shift. The radio station, at that time, signed off the air at midnight. The owner offered me the overnight shift from midnight till 6 am. I would pay him $150 to cover the electricity and I would DJ all night long and to sell advertising on my show. I could keep everything I sold over the $150. At the time in 1970, I was making $475. The firsts month on my new job I made almost $1,000 a month.
I later moved to another radio station on salary as an employee but I never lost the idea of working for myself.
Tracy: Was there a specific event when you caught the bug?
John: It was actually one of my clients at a radio station that talked me into leaving the radio station and starting an advertising agency of my own. From time-to-time, I have taken a job working for someone else but have always loved the ability to control my own destiny. Bodybuilding was the reason I decided to become a coach and help others change their lives.
Tracy: Share with us the story of your rise from green entrepreneur to where you are now?
John: My first years running an advertising agency were difficult. I discovered quickly that I did not know as much as I thought I did about my field and about running a business.
Prior to the Internet, I spent a lot of time in libraries reading all the books I could get my hands on that had to do with running a business.
Tracy: What was the crossover point from “I’m going to be” to “I am” an entrepreneur?
John: I had struggled financially to arrive at a point in my agency businesses where I was really making money. I enjoyed what I was doing, but knew I could make more money working for someone else. I also knew I would not be happy doing that. I had “cold called” a prospect and received a cool reception. “I just hired an ad agency and I am not interested,” he said. I asked if I could send a business card and my prospect seemed less than enthusiastic about that.
A friend of mine had told me the best time to get a new client is about 30 days after they started an agency relationship. I started to call him back in 30 days but got distracted. On the 33rd day, he called me. “I have your business card, do you still want my business?” he growled. I told him yes and went to see him the next morning.
That piece of business started out with 10 retail stores and a $100.000 a year budget. In six and a half years it was at 550 stores and $15 million in budget.
I knew I had arrived. He credited his growth to me and my team.
Tracy: What is your current offer and how do you help people?
John: I developed strong skills in multi-store marketing and direct response. Most of my clients call me because they need “the phone to ring.” They don’t have time for big branding campaigns to kick in. They need results and an ROI immediately.
My real magic is in taking an advertising and marketing budget and getting the maximum results out of it.
Sometimes my company wins advertising awards. Most of the time we don’t. The work we do, however, gets results — which is far better than any other recognition.
I learned that it is not creative unless it sells.
Tracy: What is your prospects biggest or most common problem?
John: Measuring the effectiveness of their advertising and marketing. Generally, my clients have limited budgets but have been spending it in ways that are not productive.
Tracy: What is it that you can look a client in the eye and say “I can help you” and how did you discover this magic?
John: I have worked a lot at studying the personality of individuals. By relating to their specific style, I find I can communicate with them in a manner that allows them to trust me.
I have discovered that sometimes the chemistry is just not there. I often turn down business because I believe there will be friction in our relationship.
I also realize that I cannot help everyone. Sometimes the project is beyond my expertise and often the budget is not there for an effective campaign.
Tracy: What is the most common “Do It Yourself” solution your prospects might try?
John: Often it has to do with social media. In many cases, I can train my client or one of his staff to handle at least a portion of a social media project. I am able to coordinate all of their marketing and advertising in one location, saving time in working with a host of individual vendors. I also am able to source projects at a competitive price.
Tracy: Great information and thank you very much for your time. You provided some great information and congratulations on being selected to be a featured Co-author of The Lone Star Veteran Business Leaders Book.
John: Thank you and you are welcome!