Gain – ATX The Brand

Episode graphic for "An Agency Story" podcast with Daniel Griggs - title Gain - Hosted by Russel Dubree - picture of Daniel in the lower right corner smiling.
Daniel emphasizes the value of having a mentor, sharing how seeking feedback and guidance from industry experts has been instrumental in his growth. He also highlights the significance of personal development and understanding one's strengths to navigate the entrepreneurial path effectively.  

Company: ATX The Brand

Owners: Daniel Griggs

Year Started: 2015

Employees: 1 – 10

In this podcast episode, host Russel interviews Daniel Griggs, CEO and Founder of ATX The Brand. The episode covers various topics, including mentorship, personal development, marketing strategies, and the importance of direction.   

Daniel emphasizes the value of having a mentor, sharing how seeking feedback and guidance from industry experts has been instrumental in his growth. He also highlights the significance of personal development and understanding one’s strengths to navigate the entrepreneurial path effectively.  

The conversation delves into Daniel’s unique approach to marketing, focusing on the importance of visually representing a brand’s message to create a lasting impression. He emphasizes the need for businesses to understand their target audience and tailor their marketing efforts accordingly.  

Daniel shares insights about finding direction in business, emphasizing the importance of gathering experiences and constantly reassessing the company’s trajectory. He also touches on the significance of content marketing and the role it plays in building brand recognition.  

Enjoy the story.

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Show Transcript

Welcome to An Agency Story podcast where we share real stories of marketing agency owners from around the world. From the excitement of starting up the first big sale, passion, doubt, fear, freedom, and the emotional rollercoaster of growth, hear it all on An Agency Story podcast. An Agency Story podcast is hosted by Russel Dubree, successful agency owner with an eight figure exit turned business coach. Enjoy the next agency story.

Russel: 

Welcome to an agency story podcast. I’m your host Russel. On this episode, we have Daniel Griggs, CEO and founder of ATX the brand, a digital marketing agency based out of Austin, Texas. Daniel’s story is definitely one of determination and grit. As a former professional athlete, Daniel learned to market himself through trial and error in an extremely competitive environment. His story shows that to succeed in anything you do, it takes more than just skill. Whether it’s sports or business Daniel shares how always having a mentor coach has had a tremendous impact on his journey. He shares his insights about finding direction, his business, emphasizing the importance of gathering experiences and constantly reassessing the company’s trajectory. I promise you’re going to love this one. Enjoy the story. Welcome to the show today, everyone. I have Daniel Griggs with ATX Web Design. Thank you so much for being on the show today, Daniel.

Daniel: 

Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Russel: 

Excited to have you here. If you don’t mind, get us going right off the bat. What does ATX Web Design do and who do you do it for?

Daniel: 

ATX Web Design, in general, websites, mobile apps, digital marketing to be a bit more specific. We mostly work with lawyers, medical professionals, home service businesses. Those are our main three audiences that we work with when it comes to, in a nutshell, making them more money is how I put it. Nobody does a service, especially talking about B2B, to have it. We mostly come in and get them more clients, get them more leads, automate their systems. We’re going to make you money or save you money in some capacity.

Russel: 

Okay. And you said medical professionals and lawyers in there, you chose what people might unanimously agree is the most difficult industry to work with. But I’m guessing you’ve had to figure out some things along the way to make that easier for yourself. Before we get into all the good parts of your story, I always love a good naming story. How did you come up with the name?

Daniel: 

With the name, you know what, I’ll start from the top and I’ll track back. The ATX part now, Awesome Tech Experiences is what I transitioned it to. But at first it was more local based. I’m in the Austin area and people refer to Austin as ATX, Austin, Texas. But it transitioned to that because we work way more than local now. That’s how it started off. When I first had the name, I came up with, what did I think of? Paradigm something. It was an off the wall name. My business mentor was like, nobody’s gonna remember that. He said somebody’s gonna have difficulty spelling it, something like that, and he said, keep it something simple. I kept it simple and transitioned to something else, and I’m happy I didn’t go with the paradigm, whatever one it was.

Russel: 

Very cool. Yeah, and see there’s always more to it, right? I made assumptions about what the name might stand for and be, but there’s always so much more behind the story. It’s crazy how similar to our own name, we had the name that we came up with that nobody could spell or know. Then we went and got a new name and then we didn’t like the story behind how we got the new name and so we created one and then we didn’t like that one so we went back to the actual original story. It’s funny how much effort we as owners sometimes put in the naming process.

Daniel: 

Yeah, it is because we, even now, like the Web Designs part, we do way more than that. But I’m going to go with it for now.

Russel: 

All right. It must be working and if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Daniel: 

Exactly.

Russel: 

Let’s go back in time a little bit. Did you end up where young Daniel thought he would end up? Talk to us a little bit about what you’re thinking, the younger version of yourself.

Daniel: 

In general, yes, I would say I’ve always wanted to do something in marketing and came from two movies that I’ve seen when I was younger. One of them was, I believe it’s What A Woman Wants, something like that with Mel Gibson. I forget the exact name, but that one and Boomerang with Eddie Murphy. It looked exciting to be in marketing. There’s a ton of other stuff that went into those movies, but the marketing part of it, I liked it, right? I imagined myself at that time going to work in a suit, collaborating, team environment. I’m a more naturally leader type. I imagined myself being that leader doing those things. Now this is back in the 90s. I grew up in the 90s, and so during that time in early 2000s is when I seen these movies. That’s what inspired me. I would say right now I’m doing what I imagined in a different way, because then it was magazines and billboards and those are the types of things that you were looking at.

Russel: 

That’s cool. Definitely the first person that’s ever said What Women Want from a business perspective. I think, that’s very unique about your story. I love it. It sounds like you didn’t kick off your path right away in the marketing space. As I understand it, you’re quite the athlete. Talk to us a little bit about what you were doing before you actually ended up starting the business.

Daniel: 

Absolutely. Sports is something I’ve done for more than half my life at this point right now. I did football and track in college. I played some pro-football. I played arena football. I had some workout opportunities with Jets and Jaguars, and I did that for about four or five years. What I didn’t realize at the moment was that I was doing marketing for myself, and didn’t even realize it. I got opportunities on teams that I played against, specifically arena teams, but also even opportunities I got in the NFL with the Jaguars and the Jets when they had me do workouts. I was doing cold outreach emails to them and cold calls to them. This is more of a, I got a vision in mind and I’m going to do what a majority of other people aren’t doing. First off, I went to a very small university. No one knew about me. Yeah, I had talent, but if a tree falls over in the forest, if nobody’s around. I started doing outreach, my agent that I had at the moment said he was doing it to all 32 teams. No one gave me any feedback. I was like, I don’t believe that, and so I went, I had a laptop at the time, and I remember this like yesterday because my oldest son now, who’s 11, he was like between three and six months old. I remember I had my laptop. I would go and visit every single NFL team’s website. I would go and look at their roster. I played cornerback so I would go and I would look and see, okay, what’s the average height of their cornerbacks? What’s the average, what are they running, a 40? What’s the average weight? Business wise, I was prospecting and I was seeing, okay, which team would I fit better in? I go and look and I was like, okay, what type of packages do they usually have? They look for cover corners, they look for bigger guys. I’ll give you an example. During that time, teams like Seattle were going with cornerbacks that were like 6’2, 6’3, bigger guys, right? More zone coverage type guys. That’s not me. I’m like 5’11, 190, 185. It’s more of a cover corner. I looked at teams that had guys that were around my caliber. I still did outreach to the other ones, but then I did that. So now it’s, okay, I got to figure out how to get in touch with these people. Then I went and I was trying to figure out emails. I would go and look at the last part of emails that they had on the site for general contact. I would go look at the DB coach, special teams coach and director of player personnel. Those three, I was like, I got to get their contact information. I would go try first initial, last name, first name, last initial. And if I got bounce backs, it didn’t work. If I didn’t get a bounce back, maybe it did work. I did this for 32 NFL teams, so you do 32 times three. That’s what I went and did. At first I was like, I’m gonna send it to whoever. I remember this one, I sent it to the Kansas City C hiefs. I believe, I think his name was Ray Farmer, was the player personnel. I drafted this email and it had, my name is Daniel. I played at this college. This is my vertical, my 40. Here’s a film of me. I drafted this cold email that I’m doing, sent it out to him and I think with the Chiefs, I sent it to like ten people in the organization, I’m talking about front office people. He sent me an email back and he was like, Daniel, while I admire you reaching out in your efforts, you got to understand who you need to send these emails to. But he also gave me feedback. He was like, you went to a small university while your film and stuff looks good, I need to see you play basically against more competition. That’s why I went in and played arena football and those things. And so then I had a strategy in place. I played in Seattle on an arena team, and I got filmed, that was the only goal. I got filmed and then I started this outreach again after that. This is actually, after season, when my son was born and I sent it out to teams. I got a phone call from the Jaguars like 45 minutes after I sent it. The Jets contacted me at 6 a.m that next morning. That’s how I got my opportunities in pro-football and with the NFL.

Russel: 

That’s a really cool story and speaks to how hard some folks have to work to get recognized in the world of sports, and what a unique way to go about that. Tell us a little bit how you were able to turn that experience into what eventually became your business.

Daniel: 

One of the things my mentor told me when I first started with him, he said, you need to look at business as a sport, because that’s what I’m used to. So when I first started my business, more of a freelancer per se, I started doing the same thing where I got opportunities with sports. What I did was, I started doing prospecting. I looked at companies that had very poor websites. It was mostly poor websites, mom-and-pop shop type businesses, and I did direct outreach to them. Monday into Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, I wrote down a list, I prospected, I made phone calls on Mondays and Tuesdays to book appointments for Wednesday through Friday. After I did that. I would set up the appointment. I would draft together a mock up. I would go and I would get them in person and then basically close on these deals. The same process, cold email, cold phone calls, doing outreach in that way. That’s how I started my business. One of my very first clients was a pest control company who I actually started with in 2015 and is still a client of mine. I actually seen them basically start and then they actually was able to sell their company and exit, and we’re a huge part of that from the beginning with them. I was driving home, and I see one of his trucks and it was wrapped and look ed nice. It had the name of the company on the back of it. In traffic, I shouldn’t have been messaging and driving, but I was. I got on my phone, I looked at it and his site was terrible. Even if you want to call it that. Looked like a Google Doc sheet with information on it. I called him in traffic and kind of acted like I was a potential customer. I told him, hey, I’ve seen your truck, looks nice, wrapped. Seen your website, those things don’t compliment one another. Basically set up an appointment there. He said, let’s meet the next day. I went home, drafted up a mock up, met with him and closed on that project. That was the hustle that I had per se, going into it, but everything’s that way.

Russel: 

And then some, man, that’s a really cool story. Not to mention too, you’re walking into cold calls and you said you’re doing mock ups for everybody you’re actually getting an appointment with?

Daniel: 

I was, I doing mock ups and this came from sports too. I had a coach one time and he told me, this is when I was playing arena football and it had to do with, when I get opportunities in the NFL, etc. Something that he told me was, when you step off the plane and you get to the facility, when the coach, player personnel or whoever sees you, when they look at you physically, they need to say in their mind, if he runs fast, we’re signing him. Basically what that had to do was, talking about physically, you need to physically look up to par. I took that same analogy with business and we even do it to the day. We have a client that contacts us and they’re interested and serious about moving forward. We’ll draft up a mock up based on the conversation that either me or one of my sales representatives have with them, and we’ll basically give them that process for the majority of people before they’re even a client. I take that exact same approach, because when someone physically sees something versus when they’re hearing it, you take either what’s in their mind or what they couldn’t even imagine and you put it there. It already shows we have a level of commitment and we understand what they’re looking for.

Russel: 

I’m blown away already by this episode. So often in business, we try to make sports analogies, but I feel like I’ve failed massively relative to the level of detail and connections that you’re making and taking to your business. Very cool stuff. Where did you learn how to build websites in all of this?

Daniel: 

I learned on the fly, YouTube university, like many other people. What I did at first when it comes to it, I didn’t know how to code. I understood from a business perspective, what it does for a business. I love sales as well. What I was doing at first was, I was actually doing drag and drop websites on Wix.com. This is in 2015 when I first started. Then as I started to build and grow, I didn’t want to slow things down. As I did research, many of the agencies were coders themselves in some capacity or designers. That wasn’t me. I didn’t want to have to go out and figure out how to do these things as well, because it was going to slow down me moving the growth of the company. I learned some things, at least enough to be dangerous, to be able to transition and do WordPress and things like that. Then I brought on my first developer about the fall of’15 that first year that I started. He was amazing at coding. What I did was I was still doing these draft designs. He would code it on WordPress and then once we finished it, or when he at least created a template for the about page, inner pages, things like that, I would get the content and information from the client and I was able to go in and at least update content, update images. We were working simultaneously. It was like the build up. I structured the strategy there until I could get more developers, until I can then get a project manager, etc. That’s like my beginning phase, they came along with it.

Russel: 

You mentioned this a couple of times already, having a mentor. In our brief conversation we had, that struck me in terms of how much in this whole process, it sounds like you’ve sought feedback. Tell us a little bit how you got your mentor and other places where that’s been impactful in your journey.

Daniel: 

My mentor s name when I first started was Tim Randall. He was very successful when it came to real estate, teaching about real estate, things like that. I was actually an athletic trainer as I was doing football, and then when I first transitioned out of it, I trained his son, speed, agility, and things like that. Then when I got away from it I knew he was successful with it. I mentioned to him, I was like, any tips and pointers and stuff, I’d love it. He told me, he was like I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll mentor you. We’ll meet two times a week and while you’re transitioning and figure out what you want to do, you train my son and we’ll basically barter. To be honest with you, at that time, I needed the money more than I needed the mentorship at that moment, but I understood his success and that if I got information from Tim, it was going to be impactful for me. I was like, okay, let’s do that. That’s what we did. And while the knowledge was great, it was more about the accountability. He made me understand the basis of creating a foundation, which I still take those things back eight years ago and still implement and do that now. Having a mentor for me, I was extremely grateful for it. I’m a sponge. I like to get knowledge from other people especially when it’s something that I’m diving into that I’m not as familiar with. You’ll hear me give a lot of these analogies, but with sports, when I was trying to go into the NFL and play pro-football, I knew some guys that already did. I reached out to them, what was the process like? What are some things I can expect? What should I do to help me try to be as successful as possible? I did the exact same thing in the sport of business.

Russel: 

Then later you transitioned to a different mentor that was in the agency business, is that right?

Daniel: 

Yeah. My mentor at the time actually told me to do it. It was the same thing I did in sports, but it was very uncomfortable. It was mostly because of my mindset, in the sports world, everybody’s competition, so somebody will give you some information, but if it’s a threat to them and them losing their spot or something, they don’t. He told me, you need to go find someone that’s in your industry and tell them you want to have coffee, take them to lunch, et cetera, to get some knowledge from them. It took me like a month to do it. We met and he was like, why haven’t you did this? I was like, all right, forget it. I’m gonna do it. I found a company in Austin that showed up first on Google, and it was the first and only one actually that I called, act like I was a customer at first. And I was like, I’m gonna be honest with you, man. I’m more of like a freelancer. I started my company. I’d love to hear your story. For me, I wanted to receive whatever he was going to give. I didn’t say, can you teach me this or teach me that? I wanted to hear his story. We met, it was only supposed to be an hour meeting. We went and had lunch at Chipotle or something like that, and this guy poured into me a massive amount of knowledge. We were there for three hours. He even paid for the lunch and I’m like no, I got you, he’s like, no. I asked him why, again, because the world I come from, this doesn’t typically happen. He said he did the exact same thing when he started his years back. He said he reached out to someone who knew him, but didn’t actually know him, and he said he felt like when I reached out to him, he actually felt honored and he was grateful to be able to do the same thing back. He helped me out tremendously. Literally from that moment, he took me from, I grew within the next three months. I tripled the income that we had coming in. The infrastructure that I had in my business at the time, I understood what to do from that point on it helped me out a lot.

Russel: 

Man, just cool story after cool story and unfortunately, we don’t have three hours to get all your cool stories. We’ll have to get the best for the rest of the time here. Another thing that you shared, I thought was cool was when you described, I don’t know if it came from that moment, tell us a little bit about how you use this word direction and how impactful that’s been on your journey. If you don’t mind sharing a little bit about that?

Daniel: 

With direction, it’s difficult. Today, I would say the word that people use is branding, brand messaging and different things like that. But for me, when it comes to direction, when I first started, it’s like every entrepreneur when they first start. You’re trying to get dollars in, grow the business, pay your bills, personal, business and all of these things. That’s how I started off with, right? I was willing to work with almost anybody to build the website and do those things. But then, experiences, I’m good at gathering experiences and sitting down and understanding the direction we need to go. It started off with websites. Then I understood, okay, people need more than just a website. They also need a way to funnel in leads to get to their website. Then I got into SEO or and how to do that, how to rank first on Google. I did that with myself first in my business and seeing what it did. I started implementing it and doing it with other businesses and other types of things. Fast forward, getting into other forms of marketing such as email marketing, content marketing, what that looks like, how that works for us, how we can implement it for clients, then we’ll begin doing mobile apps and SaaS type projects, et cetera. When you start to do these things, even as it goes, you start to break down, okay. Who do we work best with? At first, honestly, up until the pandemic, we started off with small businesses. Then I started to get traction and names start spreading. I fell into work with bigger companies, bigger organizations, and then I started working a lot with them mostly because the contracts were big. When you’re doing 50,000 dollar projects, 75, 000 dollar projects, six figure projects, it gets exciting. When the pandemic hit, a lot of the bigger organizations cut us off first, and the smaller businesses, and when I say smaller businesses, these are still companies that gross from between half a million up to 10, 15 million, et cetera in gross revenue. The small businesses that we work with and we have great relationships with, meaning it’s also the business owner. If it’s not the business owner, it’s the person right below them, they still have contact with them and we’ve met them, they came to us and it wasn’t a cutoff. It was more like, hey, it’s not that we need to save dollars and cents. What can we do during this time of this economy to make sure that we can still maintain? What other avenues? What other channels? Because we’re great at coming in and saying, hey, you’re having this infrastructure, but, I’ll give you an example. If it was a home services company that was doing landscaping, what does this look like for us? We understand that hey, more people are at home. They’re actually doing more things in their yard. If you’re doing handyman jobs, they actually want more of these things. It’s about how it needs to be marketed to them. They came to us and they stuck with us during that time, and of course, we stuck with them and we helped them transition into doing more things online and those types of things. It’s always something that, as we grow, we understand more of the direction that we need to go. Right now, we have very specific audiences, I was saying at the beginning, home services, lawyers medical professionals and insurance companies we focus on a lot, as well as building different types of SAS products and things like that. Over the years it helped us with direction, going where we need to go.

Russel: 

Something, I don’t know if it’s hidden or not in there that you were sharing, that’s I’m a big proponent of is how important it is, whatever you do for clients, do to yourself first, because you’re going to learn so much in that process. What I always use the analogy of, you’re going to throw your own kid a little higher in the air than you might your nephew or something like that.

Daniel: 

Exactly.

Russel: 

That’s actually what’s going to push you to the edge of how good you can actually be at something, because it’s a little harder to take risks on clients sometimes.

Daniel: 

It is. In a quick analogy with that, I’ll go back to sports. Always tell people, a fan is not a competitor. You can’t be a competitor. You can be riled up for your team, you can’t be a competitor. What I mean by that is it’s easy to try to say you can do something or judge from the outside, meaning for our company. If we don’t do any content marketing and we don’t know what to expect and what to look for, at least for ourselves, how can we do it for you? That’s one of those things that we like to reference.

Russel: 

Amen. Words to live by there. Very cool story so far and I’m excited. Where do you want to take this thing? What does the future look like for you and your business?

Daniel: 

For me, from a high level, I want my company to be recognized in the capacity to where when someone sees the name, the brand message and those things, it’s very familiar. What I mean by that is they want to do business with us, not just from looking at a company they found online, but I’m talking about, there’s a lot of people that use the iPhone. I know this is a very high level but, there’s a lot of people that use the iPhone and they know that Android may be better, but they go with that because this is what I’m used to. This is what I know. This is what I see, and it works for me. From the capacity of people seeing my brand, seeing the logo. Seeing the icons and hearing about us, even hearing my name and going along with that. I want them to say, I got to work with Daniel because that company and him, they have a very good track record of growing businesses, putting things in place and doing exactly what we need.

Russel: 

Sounds like a good company to me. Sounds like you’re well on your way on that part of your journey. The last big question for you is, are entrepreneurs born or are they made?

Daniel: 

Part of that depends on what you define as an entrepreneur. What I would say is I believe entrepreneurs are made, I’m gonna give an awkward answer. I believe in both. Anyone can be an entrepreneur, but not everyone can be a successful entrepreneur. That doesn’t mean you didn’t have the talent or the skill. It means that it is something that you have to be wired a certain way and you have to be able to put the best skill that you have forward. But most people don’t understand what their best skill is. An open ended answer, but there’s people that they may not naturally be a leader, but they can still run a company, right? And there’s people that are natural leaders that can be entrepreneurs, but they don’t know how to hone their skill set and implement it to be a successful entrepreneur.

Russel: 

Don’t feel bad there. There’s a good many that ride the fence on the answer to that question, which is probably, I don’t know if there’s a correct answer, but it’s a probably very fair answer to say that there’s no one way to go about it. If people want to know more about ATX Web Design, where can they go?

Daniel: 

You can find us on all social media platforms. You can find us at ATX The Brand. You’ll see ATX Web Designs with that. That’s the overall company. Visit us our website, atxwebdesigns.com, or if you go to atxthebrand.com, it’ll still take you to the site. See what we do. If you’re somebody that’s within the vertical that we work with, definitely reach out to us because we’d love to work with you.

Russel: 

Amazing. I’m most certainly inspired by listening to your story today. To see so many different approaches you’ve taken to your business and how that’s worked out well for you. Can’t wait to see your future success. Thank you so much for being on the show today, Daniel.

Daniel: 

Absolutely. Thanks a lot for having me.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of An Agency Story podcast where we share real stories of marketing agency owners from around the world. Are you interested in being a guest on the show? Send an email to podcast@performancefaction.com. An Agency Story is brought to you by Performance Faction. Performance Faction offers services to help agency owners grow their business to 5 million dollars and more in revenue. To learn more, visit performancefaction.com.

Daniel: 

Whenever we have a new hire, we always play this trick on them. We had a new hire to come on as a project manager and my head developer was on, our whole team was on. And I said I was acting like I was getting on to my content writer and my designer. I was like, hey, you had a meeting with this client the other day and video was on, and I was like, Emily, they said you had on inappropriate clothing, Hadley, they said you had posters in the background that were very offensive and I was like, what is going on? Y’all understand how to be professional on these. They were like, I don’t care. I do what I want to do. Hadley was like, this is Texas. We have guns. Nothing’s wrong with that. The new project management hire, he was looking and he had these big eyes. It was funny because he was looking and I was talking about professionalism and what you have in the background. And all you seen him do on his video was he was looking and double checking and see if he had appropriate stuff on a wall. We got a good laugh from that.

Russel: 

Yeah, that’s a good, lighthearted prank. That’s pretty funny. It reminds me, there’s an SNL skit out there with Will Ferrell where he has a new hire there and then he starts yelling and cussing out all his workers around him and the guy’s, I don’t want to work here anymore. Didn’t quite go that far. It goes pretty far in the SNL skit, but that’s pretty funny.

Daniel: 

He probably was thinking about that. I transitioned and I said, no, we’re joking, man, you’re fine.

Russel: 

Yeah, that’s funny. It shows you got a good, lighthearted environment.