I officially began BuildWitt Media Group in February of 2018 for a few reasons:
- I didn’t enjoy my job, and I’m not good at being told what to do.
- I wanted a way to spend 100% of my time in the world I love.
- The world I love (the Dirt World) needed better storytelling to attract the next generation.
While all that was fine and dandy, I had no business plan. I quit my job, threw away my 6-figure income potential, and created a situation where there was only one way out.
In fairness, before I explain our business, I was born with a lottery ticket in my hand. My parents never told me what path to pursue, I had a considerable savings (that no longer exists, of course) with no debt after college, and I grew up around powerful business people. While I have begun to “pay my dues,” I started with one hell of a hand.
In the first year of business, we derived most of our (I used the term “our” instead of “mine” in the first year to appear larger) income from photographing construction and mining operations and using the photos to create a few companies’ social media presence. The early businesses that took a chance on us were RAWSO, LB3 Enterprises, Turner Mining Group, and Graniterock. I’ll be forever grateful to them for risking some of their hard-earned money on a kid who loved dirt. The premise was that they needed people, and I believed there was (and still is) an untapped market of young people who want to work online.
As I traveled to more projects around the country, more opportunities arose. In late 2018, our business naturally grew into building websites and creating larger video projects. Whenever a company asked if we did something, we said absolutely, and then got to work figuring out how to do it.
In early 2019, the work began to grow beyond me and then part-time contractor Dan Briscoe, BuildWitt’s VP today. We needed to build a team. After a few months of saving, we assembled a five-person team capable of all sorts of digital marketing efforts, from photo and video to web to design, exclusively for heavy construction and mining businesses across the US.
Thanks to our social media reach and many failures over the first year and a half, we started to find our groove. Companies from Alabama to North Dakota were reaching out to us, and we had more work than we could handle. By the time 2019 came to a close, we had multiplied the business many times over the previous year, primarily through digital marketing efforts for companies focused on workforce development.
Now for 2020… After two years of visiting hundreds of construction and mining projects in forty US states, we’ve had the good fortune of learning the blue-collar world’s fundamental issues. As we’ve learned what the problems (opportunities) are, we’ve adjusted and grown our business accordingly.
Today, we have a team of 35 experts and we’re growing quickly. We not only offer full-service marketing (photo, video, design, branding, web, SEO, paid advertising, etc.), but we’ve expanded into HR, recruiting, business development, and soon to be other areas.
How We Work Today:
Earthmoving, infrastructure or heavy equipment businesses typically find us through social media. After seeing what we’re doing to other firms, they reach out to us to see what we can do for them too.
Our sales process is deliberately slow. We want to evaluate one another to ensure we’re the right fit. Since we aim for long-term partnerships that will ideally be decades-long, we need to be confident we’re partnering with the right people. I don’t believe in running off to the Vegas wedding chapel after the first date.
The other complexity is competition — we don’t work with the direct competitors of our existing partners (loyalty is underrated). Thanks to our strict criteria on who is best for us, combined with eliminating direct competitors, we’ve declined seven-figures of work this year alone.
Once we have the right partner on board, we get them up to speed with their branding, content, and web presence. We sit down with leadership to discuss their ambitions, mission, values, and what differentiates them. We refresh their brand and firmly establish who they are. We visit their projects and facilities to capture their work and people via photo and video. We finally bring it all together with a beautiful new website designed to educate people on who they are and why they’re a great company to work for and hire.
After we finish the initial phase outlined above is when the fun starts. Our partners (now twenty strong) pay us money to solve their problems and grow their businesses. We do more in-depth marketing, regularly visit their sites, recruit high-level people they can’t find, revise their HR practices, refine their business development strategies, and solve whatever other problems they have.
Do we have it all figured out? Hell no. We’re screwing up more today than ever before. Last week was a particularly rough one. But when we say we’re going to do something, we do it, even if we have to spend more time and money than previously thought to deliver what we promised.
The value we provide is no longer exclusively in workforce development but also winning new work and building upon existing culture. We know that if we can inspire their current people, keep their backlog growing, and attract all the future talent they need, we’re there to stay.
We tie our success to our partners’. The more money they make, the more we make. To solve so many new problems, we’ve aggressively expanded our team this year to include nearly twenty full-time individuals and about fifteen part-time contractors. All of them are far more intelligent than me.
Not only do our partners receive what we believe is a world-class product, but they’re also furthering our mission of “making the Dirt World a better place,” and they learn from one another via our partnership meetings. Since no one is in direct competition with one another, it’s a group of individuals they can trust and learn from, unlike anything else in the industry.
So that’s my long-winded explanation of how our business works and how we earn money. In short, we solve problems and create value for Dirt World businesses. Their problems are our problems. The more problems we solve, the more money we earn.
Since we have no road map to follow, we’ve made up our business model through trial and error. It’s a continually evolving puzzle centered around the balance of serving our partners and growing our capabilities to serve them even better without the advantage of external investors or partners.
While there’s a much grander vision beyond BuildWitt Media Group with many other projects already underway, I’ll save those for another time.
Thanks for reading and stay dirty!