Kyle Golding is a born entrepreneur who started his first business as a teenager. Over his 30 year career, he has owned and operated businesses in multiple industries. Golding has positioned, marketed and managed musicians, start-ups, small businesses, corporations and nonprofits to local, national and worldwide success. He is the CEO and Chief Strategic Idealist for The Golding Group, an award-winning think tank of strategy, business process management (BPM) and marketing integration experts with offices in Oklahoma City and Philadelphia. Golding specializes in the activation of data for successful business strategy, tactics and measurement.
Golding is also the CMO of a Medtech startup VORTTX Training and Testing, which provides online virtual tabletop exercises for healthcare facility emergency response training. He owns Share Furniture, was a former partner (purchased 2017) at 1219 Creative Co-Work Space + Art Gallery and has invested in and consulted for numerous start-ups and venture projects. Kyle is quoted in Entrepreneur Magazine about “what it takes to be a creative entrepreneur”.
Known as a dynamic public speaker, Golding delivers business advice and motivation via his No BS style of communicating as the host of the Beers And Branding live events, co-host of The Golding Group #NeoMarketing podcast and his #SaturdayMorningHustle social media videos.
We recently caught up with Kyle to talk about his company and his entrepreneurial journey and here’s what went down:
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
Over my 30 plus year career, I have owned and operated businesses in multiple industries. I have positioned, marketed and managed musicians, start-ups, small businesses, corporations and nonprofits to local, national and worldwide success. Most of my time is spent as CEO and Chief Strategic Idealist for The Golding Group think tank with offices in Oklahoma City and Philadelphia. The Golding Group provides strategic, sustainable growth through business process innovation & marketing integration. We build organizations from the inside out by providing expertise in all phases of operation, specific to each of our client’s needs. Our focus is providing expertise to increase income, decrease cost and improve overall efficiency for our clients.
Along with being a partner in The Golding Group, I also own Share Furniture, a partnership in 1219 Creative Co-Work Space + Art Gallery (sold in 2017), Co-Founder and CMO of VORTTX Training plus invested in and/or consulted for numerous start-ups and venture projects.
I started The Golding Group for two main reasons: I was tired of working for people who had no idea what they were doing and I knew there was an opportunity for a new way of providing valuable services to clients other than the current industry model.
Since 1998, I worked in corporate marketing. I started at the bottom as a junior graphic designer. I moved up the ranks by adding skills and experience. Eventually, I worked my way to the Director level. This allowed me to be watch top-level decision making, but not influential or participate in the process. My frustration began when I realized almost everyone above me on the corporate ladder had not earned their way to the top (the way I had). Most didn’t know what they were actually doing other than keeping their boss happy. No one was actually trying to create products, processes or actions that would create value for the company. Ultimately, I was stuck working for people who were not smarter or more talented, had no ambition to actually do what was needed for company success and were simply there to collect a paycheck. This is what motivated me to consider taking the risk of going out on my own.
The second half of the equation was my frustration as the client dealing with advertising agencies and PR firms. The MAR-COM industry mostly works in a traditional model of billable hours and media buying commissions. Campaigns are created to make work for the creative team and scheduling media the agency can bill the client for and get a commission from the provider. Too much of this work is based on making the client feel important, with flashy creative work not based on market conditions. The behind-the-scenes marketing work of research, strategy, and positioning is not sexy at all but the most effective way to create real value for a business. I knew this lack of attention to this important work is where my opportunity was. That was the idea for what would eventually become The Golding Group.
Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful? I started my first business at 15, even though I didn’t know I was starting a business. I definitely didn’t know what it meant to be an entrepreneur. From 15 to 30, I worked in music production and promotion. This included studio and tour engineering, producing and management. When I decided to exit the music industry, I utilized my technical and promotional experience along with my college degrees in mass communications to transition into business marketing. First, as a graphic designer and then marketing director and creative consultant. This all culminated in 2011 with the formation of The Golding Group with my current business partners.
I had a great deal of success in the music industry, and at an early age. So current success isn’t a surprise. The journey to this point is not what I expected it to be. I still have plenty of lofty goals I expect to achieve in the future. Confidence and motivation to constantly move forward are vital to success. I have a lot more tricks left up my sleeve.
What is your main source of income? Consulting. The Golding Group has a small but mighty roster of full-service clients we provide a variety of services to. Each situation has different needs and focus. We do not have a system or preset package clients are forced to pay for. We provide our clients exactly what they need, when they need it, on a retainer basis. We also occasionally invest in select business deals, collaborations like 1219 Creative and companies such as VORTTX Training.
We do have the other businesses and investments, but the majority of income streams from The Golding Group work.
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
Content marketing, CEO level networking and a strong referral program. We have a robust marketing program utilizing our content creation and aggregation abilities to present The Golding Group partners as the strong, decisive business leaders they are. We let our expertise, award-winning work examples, and client references create our future client opportunities. It’s not about flash, but what we can and have achieved for other clients that open the door to our next client. Each new partnership is bigger, stronger and more robust than the last. We do a good amount of community work as well. We engage our local professional groups, civic organizations, chambers of commerce and teach a pro-bono marketing class for adults for the vocational training system in Oklahoma City. We host create events like art shows and non-traditional marketing talks like Beers and Branding from a local beer brand’s tap room.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
We have a presence on most top platforms, both for The Golding Group plus all the business partners and our associated businesses VORTTX Training, 1219 Creative and Share Furniture. We have The Golding Group #NeoMarketing Podcast featuring myself and business partner Pritch Pritchard on iTunes, YouTube, Spreaker and Soundcloud.
Each company has a different audience, so a different approach to each social media channel as well. The Golding Group is very focused on Twitter and LinkedIn with a secondary focus on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. VORTTX is very focused on LinkedIn, but we have found a few hashtags that work well on Twitter. Since the 1219 Creative space was purchased late 2017, we’ve been pivoting that brand to more general creativity and community activity on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Personally, I’m all about Twitter. That’s my jam! I have been enjoying Instagram for the last year as well. I do a 1 minute Instagram video every week called the #SaturdayMorningHustle. I like working on Saturday mornings and I toss out a helpful tip or inspirational quote for all the hustlers in the office while everyone else is sleeping in. This video series has resulted in more person to person conversations about work ethic and motivation than almost all my other social media efforts combined. People really connect with it. I’m also on SnapChat but the platform has never really connected with me and is moving further away from my interest.
What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?
It can work, but it’s not as easy as everyone pretends it to be. We have a lot of powerful content created for The Golding Group so sponsored content campaigns do pay off for us. Not so much with PPC because our key terms like business development and strategic planning are oversaturated. Mostly by a bunch of wannabes. We have had success with PPC for certain clients. It works very well for non-profit organizations tied to causes. The biggest drawback is the amount of time and A/B/C testing needed to find the right combination to work well. Most clients do not have enough patience to do PPC correctly. For sponsored content, LinkedIn has been great for us.
What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?
We utilize a mixed media approach to delivering our brand message. We are specific in what we offer such as strategic planning, business process development, and communication integration along with service types we do not offer like traditional paid creative/media buying advertising or “Yes Man” consulting. This tends to turn off some people who still want to run their business like the “good old days” and we’re fine with that. We strive to attract the right client who understands how success happens in 2018, not 2000 or 1988. We break stereotypes of what business development is and can be. We don’t think outside the box, we refuse to acknowledge the box even exist.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
We utilize a mix of content and influencer marketing. Our business offers services based on the partner’s expertise and experience. This lends very well to content marketing. We demonstrate our expertise via blogging/vlogging, podcast, social media, digital channel advertising, PR, media quotes, community relations and speaking at live events. We discuss theory, answer questions and demonstrate real-world examples of successful execution. In the past 18 months, audio and short-form video have been highly successful for us. We keep a consistent disruptor brand voice on all channels. We push boundaries and show what’s possible when you get outside old, tired ways of doing business.
How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?
We started by telling people that The Golding Group was not an ad agency or PR firm. We are not accountants, HR or a law firm (even though one of the partners is a licensed attorney, it’s not a service we offer). We create a space for business development and strategy between purely creative advertising, traditional sales and compliance management. We work from the center of the spectrum out, providing creative ideas that match sustainable business concepts. We streamline the internal process to create efficiency and focus marketing on the best, most specific target audience. No one else takes this approach to business profitability. Our niche is more like a subset of a small section of a niche.
We set ourselves apart by being consistent and focused on business growth. There is no “weird trick” to success. A business that is growing is moving in the right direction. We demonstrate our expertise daily, we challenge traditional ideas and we back it all up with examples, case studies and client testimonials.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
Ending working relationships with good clients who kept us from being available for the next level of clients, doing more of the type of work we want to move into and less of what we had been doing before. It’s the growing pains of maturing a business model. It would have been easier to keep those clients, both financially and personally, but that was holding back our collective success. Now, I wish we had done it sooner. But, you know what they say about hindsight.
What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
When we started in 2011, The Golding Group took on clients but also projects and subcontracting. We stuck with that “safe” approach for way too long. Our least successful relationships have been project only. Now, we create full-service relationships with our clients. This allows us to offer them everything we have, without reserve. This works better for our clients because they get services beyond what was expected and answers to questions they didn’t even know to ask. Saying no to project work seemed hard at the time, but our slow resolve to that model change definitely cost us time and money. We also tried to manage too many clients at once, in fear of losing potential work opportunities or strangling top-line cash flow. Dropping the bottom half of our client roster provided much-needed attention to our top clients.
What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?
Wealth is not based on how much money you have in the bank. Sure, economics is part of it but real wealth is being able to make things happen that need to happen when they need to happen. Short money is the fastest route to failure. Never take today’s dime that keeps you from tomorrow’s dollar. Patience and consistency are how you create success. Wealth comes from managing your success for more than just yourself. You stay wealthy by creating opportunities for others to find their success. Thus adding to your assets.
What new business would you love to start?
I want to turn the music business on its head. The record label business model is bad for artist and fans. New technology has changed the business, but not enough. There are a hundred billion opportunities in that space. If I get a chance to make some waves in the music industry, look out. The old models will not stand a chance.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
Be even more niche in our approach. We built The Golding Group initially on clients who knew of my marketing creative services. But we wanted The Golding Group to be something different. We were slow to make the pivot, mostly because we didn’t think our potential clients would understand what we brought to the table at that time. We utilized existing relationships and reputation in creative marketing to attract client attention for too long. It made the pivot harder and more confusing in the short run. If I could, I would shorten that process.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?
Shut up! I like to hear myself talk. Often way too much. It’s ok now that I have 30+ years of business experience, but when I was younger I rubbed people the wrong way. I’m sure I made the journey harder than it needed to be with my rookie ego and big mouth.
Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?
Lately, I’ve been recommending the combination of Simon Sinek “Start With Why” to find the proper inspiration for what you’re trying to achieve and then “Crushing It” by Gary Vaynerchuk for execution and motivation.
What is the best advice you have ever been given? Always accept your mistakes or failures in person. Do not call or send an email when you’ve let someone down. Go, look them in the eye, own up and then find a solution to their problem. Anything less is not enough.
If you start having some success, that doesn’t mean everything will be easy. Pay close attention to the How and Why of early success. Don’t assume you will always understand what worked and what didn’t so write it down. That will serve you better than your memory.
Don’t be afraid of others having success around you. Their wins don’t take away from yours. Jealousy is a waste of time and effort. Let them hate on you, but don’t return it. Keep focused on your goals.
Find mentors. Real people you can talk to on a regular basis with a level of trust, people in your community you can admire and maybe work with/for someday and national figures that you can aspire to be or learn from their advice, mistakes, examples, etc….