1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?
My name is Dana Lindahl, and I’m the founder of Legendary Leadgen. I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire less than an hour from Boston. My background is in copywriting, and by the age of 25 I was making a full-time income and traveling the world with my freelance copywriting income. Life was good, but I knew I was capable of more.
I was always interested in new techniques to get in touch with potential customers, and one day someone said something in passing that I couldn’t ignore. They thought it would be a good idea to browse sites like Crunchbase and Angel.co for companies who had recently received funding, and reach out to them and see if they needed help with marketing. In theory, these companies had money burning a hole in their pocket, and were eager to spend it on marketing. So I quickly got to work testing the idea, figuring out how to find the emails of these funded companies and reaching out to offer a free consultation. The results were incredible at first – I was booking 15-20 calls per week with companies who had recently received millions of dollars in funding.
My problem was that while I was a pretty good copywriter, I was in over my head with the frantic pace that these companies were trying to grow with my current wheelhouse of copywriting skills. Until one day about 3 weeks into the campaigns when a prospect responded back “Hey Dana, we don’t need any copy or landing pages, but this email you sent us really piqued our interest. Do you offer this kind of outreach as a service?” I hadn’t thought about it at that point, but we got on a call to talk about what that would look like.
They didn’t end up signing up, but I posed this idea to my entrepreneurial group – the Dynamite Circle, which I’m still a member and moderator of today. I offered to do it for free for a handful of people to test the concept on someone else’s business – and it got great results for the large majority of the people who gave it a test drive with us. I knew I couldn’t do this for clients by myself, the work was too repetitive. So I hired a team of 3 people in the Philippines before we even made our first dollar in revenue, and set out signing up clients. This was at the end of 2014.
Today we average around $15-20k/month in revenue. This honestly could be much more, but I’ve always taken the approach that I didn’t want to manage too large of a team or take on the stresses of being a “big company”, so intentionally kept the company at this size. Recently though some things have changed in my personal life that have caused me to have much larger financial goals for myself. I was forced to examine my mindset and realized this has been a very limiting belief for me, and that having a bigger team and larger company doesn’t need to lead to being overworked managing them, and I can still maintain my incredible lifestyle.
We have a team of 3 core team members plus myself and use long term contractors to help us manage the more menial tasks like manual sending of messages and email research. Our original focus was just on cold email campaigns, but we now do a mixture of email and LinkedIn campaigns. I’ll elaborate more on how we arrived on that change below.
2. How do you attract and retain your customers?
After validating the idea through my network in the Dynamite Circle, and hiring a team to support the clients I didn’t have yet, I quickly got to work trying to sign up our first clients. We used our own processes to reach out to what we identified to be our ideal client type – marketing agencies. I thought they would be a good fit because the average agency is great at providing services to their clients to grow their business, but often have the “cobbler’s shoes” problem of not being able to invest the energy in finding clients for themselves, and can be overly reliant upon referrals.
In the first month we signed up 10 clients, and this also happened to be in December – supposedly the worst month for B2B sales. I believe it resonated with our target market both because it spoke to a real pain point that they had (getting most clients only on referral) but also because the idea was so novel to them. Most of the people I spoke to in this first month had never heard of a service such as mine. They were familiar with the concept of cold email, but had never talked to anyone who provided it as a service on their behalf.
With any marketing related service, churn is going to be an issue. Sometimes it can be unavoidable too. Companies get shiny object syndrome and want to switch their marketing spend to different tactics, or sometimes we just run out of potential people in their target market to contact. These things are sometimes beyond our direct control.
One factor to churn that was within our control, though we didn’t think it was, has been when we provide our customers with good leads, and they don’t make sales from them. While we, of course, can’t fully control whether or not their prospects buy from them, we always saw the sales process as 100% their responsibility, while the leads were our responsibility.
We’ve recently switched our approach on this, and started to provide sales consulting to our clients at no extra charge. It took me a while to come around to being basically an unpaid consultant, but it greatly increased our retention and helped our clients to be more successful in making sales as well. Higher retention has also allowed me to back off of my sales role a bit without affecting our revenue, so I can focus on documenting some of our knowledge and best sales practices, to still help our clients be more successful without it needing to be a 1-on-1 pro-bono consulting arrangement each time for existing clients.
3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?
By far the biggest challenge I’ve faced in my business was when GDPR unrolled in May of 2018. If you aren’t familiar, GDPR is the European Union data regulation policy that says you can’t hold any identifying data on a European citizen without their express consent. I originally didn’t think this would affect our business much – we didn’t work with many European customers and didn’t run many cold emails into Europe. I let our one client in Europe at that time know that we could no longer work with them once GDPR was in effect, and moved on. Or so I thought.
In late April though, our email deliverability dropped considerably. Just about all of our emails were going to spam – meanwhile I was receiving viagra ads directly into my main inbox. The big email providers were changing the inbox placement algorithm, and it was not a clean update at all. Unlike with SEO algorithm updates where industry leaders put out long, informative posts with their takeaways of the situation, cold email deliverability was not as hot of a topic, and there was much less info to be accessed on the topic. I hired 10+ deliverability consultants, none of whom were really able to improve the problem.
Internally, I was crushed. I had built my entire business on the basis of not sending out spam, but instead thoughtful emails to highly targeted prospects. And here we were stuck in the spam box for every account, even if we set up all new domains and started from scratch. It felt like we went from being a company of marketers to a company mostly focused on on our email deliverability infrastructure. Which was honestly not something we had ever focused on before, since we had never had any sort of spam issues, due to the high quality of our outreach.
I decided in the summer of 2018 to switch our focus to LinkedIn entirely. It was a natural pivot as we could take the targeting and copywriting skills our team already possessed and apply them to a new platform without the same deliverability issues as email. This all turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as we were able to position ourselves as LinkedIn experts before everyone else became a LinkedIn expert too. We were back to being marketers again and our clients were happy that the leads were once again rolling in strong as well.
These days, email deliverability has evened out a little bit, but it’s certainly a much different ballgame than it was pre-GDPR. We do still run cold email campaigns for clients, but in each case we assess which of the two platforms, if not both, will be the best approach for each one of our clients.
4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?
The biggest thing that’s helped me grow my business and myself has been the community I keep around me. The large majority of my entrepreneurial community started from the Dynamite Circle, but I make an effort to step out of that circle and meet other entrepreneurs as well. One of the most common threads of these communities though, is the sense of abundance.
All too often I see business owners keeping their best ideas, strategies, and methods close to their chest. The last thing they want is for their competitors to figure out what they’re doing and try to emulate it. This sort of mindset is an incredibly limiting belief though, that holds many entrepreneurs back.
While there were not too many businesses similar to mine when I started out in 2014, today there are hundreds if not thousands. I actively make an effort to maintain relationships with the owners of several of these businesses, and we are all friendly competitors who share strategies with each other, and all allow each other to grow and provide better services to our clients.
5. What is your advice for those are starting productized services?
I feel like the single best thing that I’ve done in my business and can apply to just about anyone starting a productized service, is to hire early and to do as little of the actual work yourself as possible. I was lucky in the fact that the biggest thing that needed to be done in my business in the beginning was finding and verifying email addresses.
To someone with an entrepreneurial mindset, this is absolutely soul-crushing work to do for 8 hours a day. It was never even a thought in my mind to do any of it myself, beyond taking a couple full days to completely understand the process. I knew I needed to hire people who would be willing to do repetitive work all day in order for this business to succeed.
This decision is not as easy for people starting a business in an area where they are passionate about the work itself and can be tempted to jump in and do it themselves. This is a gigantic trap though, and will keep them from ever being able to truly grow the business much larger than just themselves.
6. What are your plans for the future?
We see massive opportunities on LinkedIn right now, for the right type of company. We still do work with agencies, as long as they have something that clearly differentiates them from their competitors. Generalist agencies have much more trouble standing out on LinkedIn.
In 2020 our focus is going to be more towards larger B2B service companies (meaning offering non-marketing related services to other companies). In our experience, these types of companies are under-utilizing LinkedIn as a platform compared to digital agencies, and will have much more room to grow on the platform.
We are also starting to offer more services beyond just outreach for lead generation. Primarily, we are starting to offer LinkedIn ads management. There is a stigma around LinkedIn ads that they are expensive, often 10x the price of Facebook ads, which can definitely be true. However LinkedIn ads will bring in a much more targeted lead with a higher buying intent, so despite the higher price, the ROI can be much higher and they spend less time talking to unqualified leads as they do from Facebook ads. It’s a natural transition for any B2B company who has seen Facebook ads getting less and less successful over time.
There are also massive opportunities right now for gaining awareness for yourself and your company through posting on LinkedIn regularly and working the algorithm to your advantage. This can certainly be from long-form articles, but we are more focused on helping companies create easily digestible content that’s tailored for LinkedIn specifically. The cool thing about LinkedIn is your posts can easily reach your network’s network, unlike on other social media platforms which restrict the reach much more.
7. Where can we learn more about you?
Here’s my LinkedIn profile – https://www.linkedin.com/in/dana-lindahl/
Also, check out our website – www.legendaryleadgen.com
If you have any specific questions for me, the best way to contact me is through the contact form on our website. I respond to just about everyone in 24 hours.
I’d also love to hear from anyone who has experience with outbound lead generation, or LinkedIn marketing to share our experiences and put our heads together on new strategies!