The “A-Ha Moment” Dave Johnson Had A Decade Ago That Transformed His IT Business & Life And Landed Him On The Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies List

Ten years ago, Dave Johnson’s business was down and running at a significant loss.

He’d lost two key clients. And to make matters worse, his bank froze his line of credit because of a conversion the bank was going through.

Thinking back on how he was running his business, he had a big “A-ha moment” that would forever change his business and life.

“I’d done the typical hit and miss marketing,” Dave said. “I never internalized the idea that we were as much or more of a marketing company than we were a technology company.”

On New Year’s Eve 2010, Dave Johnson made a promise to himself, his partner, and his son that 2011 would not be the same as 2010.

The Founder of Portland Managed Services and Netropole Inc., Dave dug into the marketing material he’d received at the Technology Marketing Toolkit (TMT) Bootcamp the year before. He got serious about creating a marketing plan and implementing it. He turned to the resources, proven promotions, and TMT team he had at his disposal for guidance. And by the end of 2011, he’d increased his managed services revenue by 76.8% and increased net income by 307%.

Dave has continued to see impressive results, for example, in 2016 he increased his net profit by 583%. And in 2019, he made the Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Privately Held Companies, the Channel Futures Top 100 Cloud Services Providers, and the Top 501 Managed Services Providers Globally.

Here’s how Dave turned things around and how you can too:

Get Brutally Honest With Yourself

Back in 2010, Dave took a hard, HONEST look at why he hadn’t met his objectives, the slack he’d been giving himself, and why he was working so hard while not making the kind of money he should. He asked himself what the barriers were to his success and how he could eliminate them. “I determined that I was the biggest impediment to my business growth and overall health,” Dave said. “If I were my boss, I’d have fired me.”

He continued, “Aside from the marketing campaigns and loads of information that we get from Technology Marketing Toolkit (TMT), the most valuable thing that Robin (Robins) and her team have provided me is the ability to be totally clear and honest about my business.”

Delegate To Make Sure Your Marketing Gets Done

Dave reviewed the advice he’d heard Robin say numerous times about what brings about meeting your objectives and what prevents it. “Multiple times Robin has said that the things that make you a good entrepreneur—self-reliance, commitment to perfection, granular control, the desire to make everybody happy—can also become your worst enemy. You can’t do it all. You can’t work harder to make up for a lack of skill. You need to delegate, trust and measure, and, when necessary, you need to make the hard decisions today—hire slowly and fire quickly.”

Dave took the advice to heart, hiring two people with marketing skills and talents so that he could execute marketing for his company like clockwork.

Commit 100% To Your Marketing

Starting in 2010, Dave committed to executing his marketing the way Technology Marketing Toolkit taught. He plans and completes drip marketing campaigns. He gets his newsletter out on time. He’s re-written marketing materials with his prospect in mind, telling them why they should do business with him, why they should care and what to do next. He tore down his old, ineffective website and put a new one up that he received from Robin. “We mapped out the marketing workflow and expected outcomes were, and we rejoiced when the first prospect followed our plan to the letter,” Dave recalled. “They got the three newsletters, went to the website, downloaded the white paper, called us, and asked if we had time to come visit him. I thought, ‘So this is how marketing is supposed to work!’”

Dave continued to add and sharpen his marketing over the years. He refined his messaging, focusing on the value that clients receive from his company so he could tap into emotional decision making rather than logical decision making.

He applied Robin Robin’s Marketing Oil Well concept. A Marketing Oil Well is a process-driven formulaic marketing system for attracting and converting more of the right type of clients. You can REPEAT this system to generate the same results within an acceptable range of variance.

“None of this [growth] would have happened had we not stuck to the program, and I had not let go of the reins and trusted others to make good decisions,” Dave said.

Continually Look For Where You Are Getting In Your Way

Dave held weekly marketing meetings with his staff. At the end of every meeting, he asks the same question. “What am I doing that is preventing you from doing your job?”

That first year Dave said they always had something to say, but his commitment kept him moving forward and improving. “My commitment to getting out of the way is 100% and is the direct result of the exposure that I have to Robin, her team, and the amazing people who I’ve met and heard over the years at her events. And the numbers speak for themselves.”

Shorten Your Sales Cycle

In 2015, Dave made a change that made a dramatic impact on his business. Rather than having an undetermined number of touchpoints from initial contact to contract, he mapped the process out.

“We have no more than four touchpoints from call to contract,” Dave said. “By being purposeful and focusing on the end result that we wanted, we achieved a 100% close rate on all the prospects that we wanted and reduced the time and cost of customer acquisition, all of which led to an outstanding bottom line.”

Be Consistent In Your Marketing Efforts

“I have learned that marketing is not a transient event, but a series of activities that if done right is far more powerful than the sum of its parts,” Dave said.

Get Rid Of Non-Producing Employees

In 2015, Dave got rid of non-producing employees and replaced them with passionate committed ones, who are proud of the work that they do. “You know that you have the right people in the right place if you feel that you need to work hard to maintain their respect,” Dave said. “If you think that an employee would not notice or care if you cut a corner here or there, get rid of them. If you come into work and feel like you would not miss an employee if you never saw them again, get rid of them.”

“Top Line Is For Vanity, Bottom Line Is For Sanity.”

Dave says the most important area he focused on was his bottom line. “Rather than growing for growing’s sake, we focused on maximizing the profitability with our existing client base,” Dave said. “By reducing the cost of client acquisition and focusing on our existing client oil wells, we were able to achieve net profits that were unattainable in over 20 years of being in business.”

Dave credits attending the TMT Bootcamp all those years ago, where he realized that he needed to focus on his marketing. “What changed for me was realizing that if I did not change what we did for marketing—take risks, and get the right people doing the work consistently—we were never going to move from where we were, and I would become burned out, with little retirement savings, selling the company for pennies, or just closing it down.”

He says consistency is the key, and having a solid plan on how to turn prospects into raving clients made all the difference. Best of all, his customers are happy, his staff his happy, his bank is happy, he’s happy, and he says, “most importantly my wife, who has stuck by me through thick and thin, is happy.”

“It is a lot more fun running the company with money in the bank than without,” Dave said. “It has taken a long time to get to the point that we are today with a very healthy stable of loyal clients, top-notch employees, and a very profitable business. Focusing on our core business oil well, refining the processes that work, and getting rid of the activities and processes that did not serve us made all the difference for us. I say without reservation, if I had not attended that life-changing boot camp, joined the producer’s club, and listened and done what Robin and my colleagues in TMT told me to do, I know that we would have gone out of business long ago. The biggest personal benefit that TMT has provided is an environment that teaches, supports, and constantly challenges members to do better, be smarter, and be personally responsible for their success.”

Want to transform your life the way Dave has? Download the Ultimate FREE Marketing Guide for MSP’s at where you’ll gain access to the same resources and support that helped Dave. Get started today so you too can develop highly effective marketing and sales-generating systems specifically for your MSP, VAR or IT services firm. 

MSP Success Magazine is a print and digital publication dedicated to helping the CEOs and owners of managed IT services businesses build strong, profitable, growth-oriented businesses. Written and published by Robin Robins, founder of Technology Marketing Toolkit, this magazine is uniquely focused on the topics of marketing, client-acquisition, sales, profitability, leadership and personal development.



Upcoming Events

Stay Up To Date

Thousands Of MSPs Trust
MSP Success Magazine
For The Best Industry News, Trends and Business Growth Strategies

Never Miss An Update