Originally from Kansas City, KS, Matt Buff, Owner and Founder of JJC Marketing Solutions, started his advertising and marketing career with the Kansas City Star. Buff was assigned to the New Business Division and, after setting various records for most business earned, was promoted to the Online Marketing Department. After a great career with the Star, he did some marketing work for a few car dealerships before landing at Dex Media. The work Buff did at Dex Media, and the opportunity to move to Florida, would set the stage for JJC Marketing Solutions and an entrepreneurial journey based on hard work, persistence, quality results and honesty.
"When I started with Dex Media, I was on the yellow pages team," Buff said. "This was when yellow pages were still relevant. After a couple years, I got promoted into a client services role. I'd work with existing clients to improve their online marketing. I also worked with various field reps and trained people on how to create Facebook profiles. In 2012 I was transferred to Florida. I spent another year working for Dex, but I wasn't happy. My wife and I decided that if I could sell the magnet, that goes on the front of every phone book, to a company, that we'd have enough money to be able to start the business."
After six months of hard work, Buff sold the magnet package and, in December 2013, used the commission to start his own business, named after his three sons, Jordan, Jacob and Cooper. He and his wife spent the first year "hitting the streets" and making as many connections as possible. Buff started off doing websites and, over time, added additional services including, website optimization, SEO, social media marketing and more.
Buff shared an early experience that showcases his "do what it takes" mentality and willingness to step out of his comfort zone. "We had a discovery meeting with a new client," he said. "They had an online shopping cart feature with approximately 600 products that was separate from their website. They needed the two to be combined and streamlined. I said we could do it, even though, at the time, we had no idea how to do it. I called my wife right after the meeting and said, 'We need to figure out how to do shopping carts.' After three weeks of research and hard work, we delivered the whole thing. That company is still a client today."
Aside from adding skills and competencies on the go, other early challenges included putting together the right kind of packages. Buff candidly admitted that in the beginning, he and his wife had no idea what to do as far as packages. Nevertheless, they pressed on, eventually made relationships with vendors and put together packages designed to satisfy the digital marketing needs of a wide range of clients..
Another creative approach Buff took to build the business was through the use of barters. In exchange for air time and ongoing commercials, Buff agreed to revamp the website and manage the social media of a local talk radio show he was a fan of. He drove their social media likes from 800 to 8,000 and made some great contacts and referrals as a result. After a year of persistence, Buff also struck a deal with Quinco Baseball Academy in Winter Park, to allow his sons to train at the top-notch facility in exchange for a new website and social media management.
Looking ahead, Buff, who's constantly training and reading about what's new in the world of websites, SEO, optimization and social media management, has a goal to sell 10 websites per month. This would give him the cash flow needed to hire more employees, go after more jobs and possibly open a physical location. Buff has already identified a great location in downtown Sanford.
What advice does Buff have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "Don't be afraid of failure and rejection," he said. "Think of them as your best friends. If someone cusses you out or tells you to get out of their business, you now have an opportunity to think about and refine your approach. Experiencing negativity can make you a better salesperson. We've lost clients because the things we did weren't working. The key is to learn from that experience, make improvements and move on. Don't be afraid to try new things. Remember, if it's something you love, don't let anything or anyone stop you. Lastly, avoid getting loans if you can. Have some money in the bank or learn how to manage a budget with basically nothing in the beginning."