In my 20s, I grew my family’s liquor business from $3 million to $60 million in revenue.
When I say $3 million, a lot of people misunderstand me. We did $3 million in revenue, but only $300,000 in gross profit, before expenses.
After everything was paid, we had no money. I had to grow the business on a really very low budget.
I talk a lot about running ads on platforms that have underpriced attention — platforms like Facebook or Instagram stories, but when you’re scaling a business, that’s just one part of the equation. There’s more that goes into building an actual organization. There’s more that goes into operations, customer experience, product development, and all the stuff you’ve gotta think about when you take a business to that next stage. It’s a different kind of jump.
And a lot of times, you’re not surrounded by experienced practitioners who can actually show you these things.
It’s why we started VaynerMentors — a consulting service where we help $3M – $25M go even bigger.
I’m so excited by what we’ve been able to achieve so far.
Today, I wanted to share the story of Insane Labz, a VaynerMentors client we worked with that completely crushed it. They’re a sports supplement company based in Arkansas with incredible branding, and a real unique “voice” in their space.
Dustin Lebleu, the CEO, was handling everything from vision to execution. He had his hands in everything, and it just wasn’t a scalable model.
VaynerMentors helped him get more “structure” around his marketing, operations, talent, and so on.
A few people from the VaynerMentors team talked to Dustin to get some insight on how he was able to unlock the next stage of growth. Here’s a quick video where he talks about his experience:
Enjoy 🙂 Lot of lessons for any small/medium sized business owners to learn here.
To learn more about VaynerMentors and apply, click here.
When you first signed up for VaynerMentors, what did you expect?
From watching Gary’s content, he always talks about putting money into Facebook, etc. I thought that would be more of what it’d be about. I didn’t realize that there was so much that came with it in terms of the VaynerMentors team.
I was doing all paid marketing myself. I came into it wanting help with paid marketing.
Eventually, I realized that what I really need was to be a real CEO and not just be executing the paid ads. I need people to do that for me and I need to manage them.
We have a way, way better structure now.
What sort of benefits did you see from joining VaynerMentors?
We worked on some key areas like process, operations, and sales. It’s almost VaynerMentors helped us slow down for a little bit, figure out these areas, and focus on the overall picture. We dug through each department to see where we’re lacking, and where the structure needs to be held.
It was huge. We found hidden money.
For example, Sid (Brand Manager for Gary Vaynerchuk) from the VaynerMentors team mentioned that Gary doesn’t actually do as much paid advertising as I thought, and that a large part of his growth is actually organic. I realized that I had to focus more on organic channels, which helped grow revenues for us nearly 30% (while saving money on paid advertising).
Before, we were spending about $140k / month on ads at a 2x overall return. Now, we’ve decreased spend to $100k / month with 3.5x return. We increased our net profit on ad spend by 178%, and that’s tied directly to VaynerMentors.
We are also now shipping USPS with correctly sized boxes — this one small change is saving us nearly 30% in shipping costs!
One of the biggest benefits came from a conversation I had with Mark Evans, SVP at VaynerMedia. He suggested I write down everything I was doing in a day to really examine it. For me, that exercise was so helpful the I challenged my employees to do it, too. I was super surprised to find out that many of them were actually bored. That was a huge insight that helped us save money in terms of improving employee efficiency.
Now, I’ve freed up basically my entire day to conduct meetings with each department head to see what needs attention. I’ve also got a paid ads division within my marketing team that takes care of all things marketing.
How did VaynerMentors help improve your product offerings?
After going through the program, we only kept top 25 SKUs, which allowed us to get rid of 75 other SKUs. This helped us recoup a lot of cash in terms of liquid capital.
For example, we decided to do a sale on all the SKUs that we were going to remove, whether it be wholesale or direct-to-consumer. Once we’re done, we will have “moved” capital from the dead SKUs into new SKUs in more profitable categories.
The estimate amount is close to $300k 🙂
It’s also easier to market 25 instead of 150+. It’s definitely been a game changer.
The program also made me realize that a product needs marketing behind it before it can be released. I’m definitely thinking now in terms of how am I going to market this first. Like, what means are there to market before the product comes out?
Overall, how did you feel about implementing what we showed you? Was it taxing on you or your team?
Personally, I thought it was super simple. You guys gave us both short term and long term solutions that were super helpful.
The team is always easy to reach and super accessible at all times. I had a phenomenal experience. Sid and Sabir (SVP of eCommerce) from the VaynerMentors team were also very accessible — which means they’re also very detailed in how they communicate.
This was especially the case with Sabir, who was almost annoyingly detailed because of all the information he gives. But it’s amazing because once you digest it all, it’s extremely helpful. Every time I hit up Sid as well, I’d always get a response really quickly.
Is Insane Labz is better prepared to grow faster in the future?
We definitely feel like we’re equipped to launch bigger products in 2019 and onwards.
We feel very confident about doubling or tripling our business with no problem. We’re very sure about that. Before, we were at a spot where it would have been very difficult to grow with our operations being the way it was. Now we can definitely do it.
It was all VaynerMentors.
Who would you suggest should be looking at VaynerMentors? What kind of businesses?
Anyone who has grown to a point where they feel stuck. Anyone who has grown to a point where they’re stuck or they’re trapped in that chaotic process of trying to do everything. Maybe they don’t even realize it.
Just have an open mind coming into this. Be willing to “oh, I’m wrong. I see the way it should be done and change that.” Be okay with not staying stuck in your own ways and going with suggestions.
You get to a certain point in business where you just need outside help. I’m in a small town, and don’t have to many other people to look to. To see you guys building this big of an operation, it almost brings out my competitive side to be honest.
A lot of people might be looking into this because they like Gary. That’s cool, but they should really be going into this thinking that they’re trying to really grow their business in all aspects. Not just social strategies and things like that.
VaynerMentors is about more than just marketing help. They look at it with a full scope, that’s what I’ve learned to do as well.
How VaynerMentors Can Help You…
At VaynerMedia, we’ve worked incredibly hard to become world-class in areas like influencer marketing, e-commerce, emerging technology, IoT, and voice.
Normally, we take those skills to and work with big brands like PepsiCo, Mondelez, or Chase.
But eventually, we got so many requests for help from SMBs that we decided to add a new service to help them.
We genuinely believe that we could add a ton of value for businesses in the $3M – $25M range that are looking to unlock real, meaningful growth and scale.
Here’s what will happen if you get accepted to VaynerMentors:
We’ll start by dissecting your business, understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and business model. From there we’ll do a complete topline audit of your business model, organization, product, distribution, sales, marketing, advertising, paid media, creative, and operations to analyze every imaginable unlock to help you scale and grow.
We’ll put together a step-by-step growth plan specifically for you, and help you execute.
You’ll get plugged into to our rolodex of fortune 500 companies, brands, and executives to help you scale. And you’ll have subject matter experts from our team accessible at all times.
This isn’t just about Facebook and Instagram advertising.
There’s been tremendous interest since we announced — so much that we stopped accepting new clients for 4 months. There were literally zero openings.
But now, we’re opening up applications for new clients.
Check out this page to learn more.