Rick is the CFO at Response-IT and Canadian Cloud backup in Kingston Ontario. He’s involved with many community groups like The Rotary, Innovate Kingston, Switch and he’s on the board for Kingston Chamber of Commerce and Bereaved Families of Ontario. He’s also an active member of several Kingston networking groups.
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3:26-I love meeting new people, it’s a fantastic experience.
4:27-Pay it forward.
4:58-Just fill the need and trust that something good will come from it.
6:38-It’s a bunch of like-minded people getting together to learn a bit marketing.
6:43-The way I’m going to learn about marketing is by talking to other people funding it.
8:55-I become interested in what they do. I rarely talk about myself. I let people know who I am and what I do.
9:36-Make use of the business card. Follow up with some emails.
9:55-The loyalty loop for clients and customers
10:40-I’m open to all those other people’s needs. I am not always able to help with but what I can do and what anybody can do is act as a connector.
12:57-Do little paid advertising.
13:42-It’s so easy to be nice to people. It’s so easy to be nice to a business.
14:53-We communicate to them what we’re doing at a grassroots level. You know we’re not going to talk big heavy technical talk.
15:45-Well if I was giving an elevator speech, I would say we sell peace of mind.
22:31-Being a connector can be a turning point.
24:03-In marketing, we have to think like farmers because we don’t know of the seeds we plant which ones are going to bear fruit.
25:03-when I’m out there and meeting people is I try to be creative, I try to be innovative. Thinking of new ideas, something that’s never done before.
26:02-You get much more enjoyment when you’re doing something different like that or you think of something different.
27:55-We put time into people. We find someone we want to keep and we put time into them.
28:26-I always hire people smarter than myself.
30:34-Your policies are there to help you serve not to protect you from crazy clients.
Transcription of today’s episode.
With so many marketing messages bombarding everyone, what do you do to rise above the noise? Authentic and thoughtful marketing could be the final frontier for marketing in business. Sit back and enjoy as we interview the principles of real businesses as they talk about their distinctive and authentic approach to reaching out to new prospects. When you rise above the noise, your marketing doesn’t seem like marketing at all. I’m Jason Tanner. Welcome to the zero noise marketing podcast.
Networking one person at a time could easily become a lost art. Is there a place for networking in your business? Is networking a big waste of time? Today’s guest Rick Frasso pulls back the curtain and reveals how authentic and committed community involvement has helped him consistently grow his business. Rick is also not just satisfied to support most of the community-based groups here in Kingston but he’s also one of the founders of the Kingston sales and marketing Club which is quickly becoming one of the premier networking events here in our city. Stick around and you’ll learn how to pick the right networking groups to build your business and how to conduct yourself when you’re at those groups. This is the Zero Noise Marketing podcast.
Jaeson: One of the things I want to ask you about Rick, you’ve got so many community groups that you’re involved with. How do you pick the ones that you’re going to be spending your time?
Rick: I think it’s almost that they come to me. I hear about organizations. I, in some cases through mutual friend. In some cases I’m able to fill a gap or something they need. I’ll give you an example. 100 men I heard by this organization, didn’t know anything about it. So 100 men they meet quarterly, everybody gives a hundred dollars that night and that night they pick a charity and they give that charity ten thousand dollars to use as they see fit. You know the finances are used where it is most needed. Now I heard that the membership of a hundred men is dwindling. There’s another organization, a hundred women and their numbers are increasing rapidly. So I met Brad Ravel who’s on the board and I suggested that possibly I could help them with their marketing campaign to possibly boost their numbers. First thing I did, I go to a hundred women. I interview some people from there to find out what they did. And I have some Saint Laurent’s placement students helping me with a little bit of a marketing campaign that this year will put into place and to boost their numbers just to make sure that we always have a hundred men donating to that organization. So there there’s an example of I love going to the meetings. I love meeting new people, it’s a fantastic experience. But now I’m able to also help them boosting their numbers through a marketing campaign.
Jaeson: That’s super interesting to me because when a person is first starting their business, they might be thinking themselves: “Where can I go to get what I want?”. And where you take it the opposite approach, you look for a need, a place where you can have a positive impact. And then you go for it.
Rick: And of course me being an entrepreneur businessman, you know that you’re gonna meet some people within that organization. They’re going to be business owners, there’s some retirement people there. But there’s a lot of business owners in that organization that like to give back to the community and they’re good people to get to know in the business sense. I’m sure you’ve heard of the term: “pay it forward”. So in a lot of cases, that’s what I do. You know I’m not there to sell anything. I’m not there to boost my business. I’m there to help. Six months down the road we’re gonna hit a phone call. You know they need help through our services and they’re gonna think of a response I.T.
Jaeson: But you never go into it thinking about that?
Jaeson: That’s really interesting. So you don’t have an attachment to sort of a specific outcome. You just fill the need and trust that something good will come from it.
Rick: Yes exactly. And it’s so interesting meeting new people. A lot of times, I’ll meet someone or hear of a group or a new business and I’ll go visit them or I’ll invite them here for a little chat just to find out who they are right. You know, you might meet them again six months or in a year you just never know. And I really find there’s so many interesting businesses, so many interesting people in Kingston.
Jaeson: Well, so what would you say to someone who’s interested in getting into networking specifically there. How would you suggest they did into that?
Rick: There are several networking groups in Kingston. Kingston connections is a great one. They meet Thursday mornings at Smitty’s. They’re a very referral based business but not because they have to. Because they like the people that they associated with and they trust the people that they associated with. I’ve started with Mark Didymus the Kingston Sales and Marketing Club here in town. We started it with six people attending and now we’ve had up to thirty. That organization is not to sell, not to boost your business. It’s a bunch of like-minded people getting together to learn a bit marketing. And the way I’m going to learn about marketing is by talking to other people funding it. What they do for their business. We have a speaker every of the first Wednesday and a good example would be you. You spoke at one point and very interesting because not only you learn about marketing from the speakers or from the people that you’re talking to but it’s a great networking opportunity. You know things are gonna happen before the meeting and you’re gonna meet people after the meeting and that’s another great marketing group. There’s another smaller one called Kabam, they meet at lunch at Nino’s. There’s of course the BNI and networking groups can be joining in the chamber. The chamber I was at a mixer last night at Habitat for Humanity. I joined the rotary community service organization. Of course another great networking opportunity. So my suggestion would be just get up there. Meet people. Again last night I was at a speaker series innovate Kingston in the Town Hall in Portsmouth there’s about 50 like-minded entrepreneurs there. What a great opportunity to meet people that’s starting it. And there’s a panelist. There are some successful people. Great questions about Kingston and the community. There’s just so many opportunities. I could be here five days a week attending events if I wanted to.
Jaeson: Absolutely. And here’s a question. So when you’re in a networking situation, the speaker or the usual agenda has happened an open social context. How do you conduct yourself when you’re talking to people so that you can you can deepen a relationship?
Rick: I become interested in what they do. I rarely talk about myself. I let people know who I am and what I do. But again, I’m very interested in what they do and I learn from them. I learned from possibly their mistakes or how they became successful or what they are doing now. And of course we’ll exchange business cards. Now, if you’re going to exchange business cards, a lot of people, that business card might end up in their top drawer never to be seen again. I suggest that make use of the business card. Follow up with some emails. Maybe every three months, every two months, contact that person again. Let them know you’re still around. A slow way to build a lasting relationship you know. So just don’t drop it. I’ve heard that referred to as the loyalty loop for clients and customers. So the loyalty loop, so you never let it drop. You always contact a person through an email, meeting them at events, a follow-up email. You might attend their events. So it’s a circle that you can continue. A circle, don’t let it ever break and you never know what’s going to happen.
Jaeson: So the mindset, how has this affected your mindset as far as thinking about other people’s needs?
Rick: I’m open to all those other people’s needs. I am not always able to help with but what I can do and what anybody can do is act as a connector. An example was this morning, I heard of a nonprofit organization that wanted to put makers of videos for the pathways organization. I happen to know a young man that wants to start a business in that industry. I don’t have the skills but I certainly know that he does so I introduced them and that’s all I did. And there, he will now be producing videos for that nonprofit to be used in to put on social media to actually show people what pathways has accomplished for their 300 kids on under their care. So a lot of times are just connecting two people.
Jaeson: That’s great. So there’s two tiers to what we’re trying to do with this, with the show. And one is to look at the authentic stuff that you’re doing either implicitly or explicitly in your marketing. I’ll connect about something that is you know you’ve executed it explicitly. You’ve done this main priority and budgeted time for us, for this in your schedule. But the implicit message of this action is that you care about your community and that you have a personal commitment to support a service. So that’s that’s very interesting kind as far as that took marketing goes. And the other side of what we talked about on our show is what do you do in your business to make it easier for your customers to refer you.
Rick: Well, we do little paid advertising. How we do get a lot of referrals from our customers and that is done by a customer experience that is really not hard to do. It’s not hard to answer the phone. It’s not hard to set up a service call next day when the person needs it. I’ve heard so many complaints in my industry of customers not being serviced well or in a timely manner. And to tell you the truth, I just don’t get it. It’s so easy you know, it’s so easy to be nice to people. It’s so easy to be nice to a business. To service that business. It just comes natural to us. We have a great team that’s why we always leave the customer satisfied, very very important. We’re never in a rush and you know in a lot of cases, our clients they almost become friends. You know, you get to know them well. You see them at hockey games. We see them on the golf course possibly in the summer. And well, we do give it hockey tickets and we do give it a golf tickets. But I really find probably the easiest marketing advertising we do is just talking to our customers, that’s it.
Jaeson: Right. And just a commitment to make sure that they get exactly what they’re…
Rick: Yeah and we communicate to them what we’re doing at a grassroots level. You know we’re not going to talk big heavy technical talk.
Jaeson: You know this is, it’s very interesting talking to you particularly because I understand that with the back up side of your business, the Canadian cloud backup, I mean essentially the temptation would be to think you’re selling disk space but in our world like in this case is deeply commoditized concept is modular that’s certainly the view. So what was it you’re doing that makes people understand that your delivery of that otherwise commoditized service separates you from the alternatives out there in the marketplace.
Rick: Well if I was giving an elevator speech, I would say we sell peace of mind. So in our field, disaster recovery just basically means for our clients that you’re not going to lose your data and if something does happen to your computer the cleaner knocks it over you can be assured your data is backed up on our servers and that we can put everything back and it’s basically that simple. And so many people just don’t get it. Ransomware, they might be a attacked through ransomware. And if someone encrypts, there’s someone named Joe from India who says he’s from Microsoft I phoned you up and encrypts your data and says you have to pay me two thousand dollars to get your data back, no that happens that really happens. We get phone calls where businesses have phoned it up with that exact same scenario. I would say it’s not unusual to get that type of phone call once every two weeks. So there might be two times a month, might be four times a month. And the thing is that people don’t hear about that. We’re the only people that hear about that because we get the phone calls. A lot of people are embarrassed that this has happened to them and they don’t advertise the fact and you can be sure once that happens they’re going to be phoning us to backup their data and the smart businesses have already done that.
Jaeson: Yeah so what does it look like if I call, I say: “Rick I have to have a cloud backup with you guys. I just came home and my computer has melted into a pool of plastic what what do i do?”.
Rick: Well first of all, we’re going to put a new computer in your place of business and we can do this all remotely. We just get on our console and put that data back.
Jaeson: What kind of a turnaround in this kind of situation?
Rick: We will be there at next day. Okay now there are other criteria. Your internet connection can be a criteria or if you have a lot of data we might take a hard drive right up to the server and backup to the server there in the data center just to get it done faster. So there’s several possibilities you know, just just depends on what’s needed that at the time. And we did get into cloud backup at the right time because as everybody knows, everything’s going to the clock.
Jaeson: My understanding is there’s a lot of service providers who are operating under these states maybe most of them are is that fair to say? Just right through numbers okay and we’re having coffee at one time and you mentioned to me that particularly in the medical industry they have very specific standards that require them to keep their data in country. Can you talk about that?
Rick: There are a few provinces that have that mandated now and more provinces will follow over the years where they require health records to be kept in Canada because if you have a business in health industry and you have client data and you’re keeping that data on a Google Google server in Florida, you have no control over security even the American government. There’s a lot of talk what Canada has a couple of organizations the acronyms are PIPEDA and that they mandate that the data has to fulfill a certain security level. You can encrypt data. So our a selling point is that we do keep our data in Canada and we have one of the highest security levels and everything’s redundant so you will never lose your data.
Jaeson: So it’s perfect insurance ready.
Jaeson: Well that’s great. So it’s nice to get a handle on what you do to strongly differentiate yourself in a market where people may have a hard time differentiating one IT company from another. So that’s great. I’m glad we were able to talk about that. So, can I ask you a couple of questions about your profession? What was the last marketing books that you read that had an impact and how you do your marketing?
Rick: I would say The Tipping Point and I don’t remember the author’s name but that was suggested to me to read that because I met a gentleman in the financial industry and after we met a few times he mentioned that I reminded him of the people in that book. So I read the book and he was right. A lot of the things that I do naturally were more mentioned in that book. Well I mentioned the word connective. And they mentioned in the book that the simple idea of being a connector can be a turning point. And let’s say the fashion industry, there were some examples of the fashion industry where in a bid was New York City. A few kids on a few blocks start wearing hush puppies and it was different no one else was doing that but the fashion industry got hold of that new idea making use of an old shoe from years ago from when I was young and the people started buying hush puppies from little convenience stores or just wherever they could find it. And everybody started selling out of these hush puppies because all the the cool kids started wearing them and it became a multi-million dollar industry just because a few kids on the New York block started wearing these old shoes.
Jaeson: I guess it like our natural instinct is to we want to think like hunters but in marketing especially nowadays we have to think like farmers because we don’t know of the seeds we plant which ones are going to bear fruit necessarily, right? So they certainly and I think happened with typical timberland boots as well. The hip-hop around the community has subverted those for their own use and they couldn’t keep them in stores and they never said it like Timberland never had a meeting and brainstormed possible market and they just created a sturdy sturdy product that someone found and another useful, right? Amazing, Yeah it kind of circles back to what you’re doing with your network marketing too. There’s no way of knowing where those seeds will find purchase you know.
Rick: Right. And another thought that I always have when I’m out there and meeting people is I try to be creative, I try to be innovative. Thinking of new ideas, something that’s never done before. An example, I met women mean business here in town and we changed these offices into a showcase. I got everybody to clean up their office. We put a big black cloth on the table and one office we had the Boys and Girls Club, we had someone selling jewelry, we had an artist, we had a massage therapist. Every office we changed into a showcase for a business from the women that mean business networking group. And we had wine tasting up front. That was just an idea that popped in my head I’m very successful. And you get much more enjoyment when you’re doing something different like that or you think of something different. That’s it and it stands out. You know, people still come up to me and said: “oh I was at your mixer three years ago” and that they remember that.
“You get much more enjoyment when you’re doing something different or you think of something different.” –Rick Frasso
Jaeson: Right. Yeah, so I mean that actually trigger something in my own mind that would you say that it’s important to find a way, to find joy in the process of outreach rather than being miserly about you know budgeting like “I got to do two hours a week or else.
Rick: Well I always say I have the best job in the world because I have fun doing it. So that’s what I do what I do. That’s why I own these businesses because I enjoy growing businesses. I enjoy the process and I have fun doing it. And I think that filters down to your team which then filters down to our clients. That just I think, it’s what our business is built on. You know it’s just people come to work,they laugh and joke and they want to come to work and our clients see that. You know, they see our text being upbeat.
“I always say I have the best job in the world because I have fun doing it.” –Rick Frasso
Jaeson: Right, they’re not loading the next call and that’s very tough. I used to do tech support myself. You know that agent morale, you know the guys on the phone. That’s a very tricky thing to do.
Rick: We have a little turnover here, that’s amazing. But we put time into people. We find someone we want to keep and we put time into them.
Jaeson: So who’s been looking the longest?
Rick: I would say my partner Chris, who I hired right at a school. Took him to his first call and he seemed surpassed me in technical knowledge which is another criteria I have. I always hire people smarter than myself. Shane our administrator has been here for over 10 years now. He’s the and I’m sure you’ve heard this term before “the glue that keeps everything together”. Shane is great. He knows all clients by name, he’s the one that’s gonna answer the phone, he sets up the calls, he orders, everything goes through Shane. And I’m sure every business has somebody like that.
Jaeson: Fantastic! So the employer attention, it’s just another facet of Marketing. Cause it of course, informs the way you come across to the people who do business with you. There’s a consistency.
Rick: Right. And if you have the same check for six years, they must be doing something right.
Jaeson: That’s amazing continuity. But most of us when we call into a help desk, we imagine a sea of of strangers. Whereas when doing business with response IT, it’s a small room of friends. They’re there to help you.
Rick: Yes. And that can be an advantage. Even Canadian Club Backup. We’re in an industry and we’re playing with some or partnering with some very large companies but we have an advantage because we’re small. We can turn on a dime, we can make decisions, we don’t have a hierarchy of the c-suite. And over time, we found that’s a very real advantage to us.
Jaeson: Gotcha. You’re not locked down by a bunch of policies that are just there to protect you from clients. Your policies are there to help you serve not to protect you from crazy clients.
Rick: Yeah. And we can put resources to a decision when it’s needed. And you know, we do try to act like a larger company but we do that with a very few personnel just because of the industry wherein everything’s done on consoles like remotely.
Jaeson: Gotcha. That’s great. So how could people get a hold of you Rick?
Rick: Well of course, we have our website www.responseit.ca and certainly a lot of people contact me directly: email@example.com
Jaeson: Thank you very much for your time today.
Rick: Thank you very much.
This has been the zero noise marketing show. Connecting with the right prospects in an authentic way doesn’t have to be complicated. If you think authentic zero noise marketing might be right for your business find out for sure by contacting us for a free consultation session. We can be reached at 613-379-3051. You might be eligible for a complimentary test campaign. I’m Jason Tanner. Thanks for tuning in.