The Lead Generation features conversations with today’s entrepreneurs willing to tell the truth about what it takes to be your own boss and the transformative impact you can have on your audience.
In this episode, we’re bringing you Dimitrije Ostojić to discover the lessons he's learned growing his marketing agency.
Dimitrije is the founder of Default Design, a global digital marketing agency headquartered in Serbia. Focusing on marketing automation and lead generation, Dimitrije and his team bring strategic planning and tactic implementation to each project they take on.
In this episode, Dimitrije shares how he’s become a leading voice in digital marketing in the Balkans, reveals his favorite list building method, and gives a great way to convert leads into customers at scale.
If you’re short on time, here are a few golden nuggets from our conversation and the resources mentioned.
Don’t be afraid to give something new a try. You can invest a little bit of time and/or money and if it works out well then you can put more energy into it with less risk.
Get to know your audience and be authentic. This way you are able to establish who you are and the value of your brand – without shoving a sale in their face.
Keep yourself motivated. As an entrepreneur it’s easy to lose momentum, so find someone or something that can help you stay motivated and inspired. This could be anything from listening to new podcasts or following people in your space on Twitter.
Put in the work to grow your list. Frequent webinars on topics that appeal to your audience is a great way to do that, plus webinars are an excellent testing ground for your next product idea.
Help your clients get real results from the work you do with them. Get them to truly know the value, not just see it in theory.
After enjoying this episode, what are your top takeaways from Dimitrije?
And what's one lesson you learned in this episode that you'll take action on over the next week?
Get to know Dimitrije
Bob: Dimitrije, it's so good to have you here on this episode of Lead Generation.
Dimitrije: Thank you, Bob. It's really great to be a part of this podcast.
Bob: Excellent. So, we're going to get into some really cool stuff and I really appreciate you connecting with me from Serbia today. Before we get into that though I'd love to know, how are the lives of your customers transformed by what your company does?
Dimitrije: What we do, in Default Design, we really try to get the things that are working worldwide and bring that knowledge to the local market. So, we are really a small market, Adriatic region is around 25 million people, like some bigger cities in the US, but we are really trying to get most of the conversion marketing, website customization, lead generation, things that are working really great outside our market or worldwide, to bring this and introduce this to the people around here.
We are doing live webinars for the last five years and educating people step-by-step and showing them how they can use that knowledge and just use it on their small business to be able to like we like to say, to live locally and work globally. No matter if they are living in Serbia, or they are living in the US, or they are living in Australia. No matter where you are, you can be competitive to big companies, to big names, and to really get some results from your work.
Bob: That's awesome. You mentioned that you are in Serbia and also locally around the Balkans and Adriatic region, what are some of the other major countries within your region that you're focused on helping the most?
Dimitrije: Yes, it's Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro. We all speak the same language so we understand each other. So, it's easy to spread the knowledge to those countries and we are all following each other and going to the same events, the same conferences, and we all know each other very well. It's really good to be a leader and influencer in a specific industry for this small market because it's easy to recognize you on the market and it's easy to bring the good products to the market to show people how they can use it and how they can do their business even better.
Bob: Excellent. I love that. And I've been looking over the statistics of listeners of the Lead Generation and they are all over the world. So, for those of you living in smaller regions of the globe, I think you're really going to love that Dimitrije has to share with you today, all focusing on that local market.
Dimitrije: One of my friends had a podcast called Backwater Entrepreneur and this is something similar that we are working. We are a small country, backwater country, that can be also side-by-side major players all around the world. And it's really good to know that it's possible to do that.
Bob: Love it. Let's talk a little bit about the beginning of your story in business. How did you get started becoming this leader of online marketing in your region?
Dimitrije: Yes, it begins 15 years ago. Basically, me and my friend from high school started Default Design as something that we want to create online. It was a creation of that site in the beginning. But, later when I find out that communication is crucial to online sales, you need to focus on something that really gives value to the clients. So I tried to get the names of the people who are best in the world about this and I remember I started to listen to Social Media Examiner podcast with Michael Stelzner and I got a really good name from this podcast and start following them.
And then, I try to get the tools they've been using for their business and start to copy them. And just see what can be applicable to my market for our people because every market has some specifics. For example, in the Balkan, people are ... you need to target them by emotion, they're all emotional. You need to find a way to bring those emotions in order to convert them. And so, I try to get some tools who can help me to get emotion from the people online and to start to communicate with them in the way how they want to be treated and how they want to be communicating. I can bring them from the people who don't know anything about your brand to the people who will be able to spread the word about your brand like it's their own brand.
First of all, I listen to a lot of podcasts, I read a lot of blogs, and then start building my knowledge on different conferences and to build my team around me to be able to just present, to help people from my region to be better in their business. This is the easiest way I can describe it.
Bob: Excellent! And before you and your friend started up Default Design were you in a regular day job, were you still in school, what was going on before?
Dimitrije: Yes, yes, I was working ten years in other businesses. I degreed in economics. So, I was working five years in exporting departments, and then I was brand manager for some famous worldwide brands, and I was working two years in one company which sold lighting, and two years in one company as a marketing assistant for the Balkan region, Middle East, and Africa.
I learned my way how to communicate with people, how to work together with the sales teams to be able to pass the marketing message. And then, I saw this huge gap in my market where it can be this type of conversion and marketing automation can be used in order to really boost the business for small entrepreneurs, for small business, this is something that I target, small to mid-size business, because I can help them really fast in a really short time.
#Success is a team sport
Bob: We know as members of the Lead Generation the trajectory of success is not always a straight hockey stick curve or anything like this, it can sometimes be up and down. What frustrations or obstacles did you face as you grew Default Design into a successful business?
Dimitrije: The first obstacle was how to get the right staff to your team, how to find the right people who will be side-by-side with you on this mission. And Serbia is the country where IT industry is growing rapidly. A lot of companies from all around the world are coming here and opening new companies because you have people are well-educated for this. It's becoming a problem to get the right people to your team. So, I decided to invest in a team, I brought some people who had been following locally for years and start working with them on positioning Default Design as a company who you want to work, if you're thinking for the job.
We managed really to spread the good word about the company, about the company's culture especially, so a lot of people now are waiting in line to start working for us. It's really opened new doors for the business. So, we've managed to scale really, really fast.
The biggest problem now is to get the right people who are willing to learn a lot, and who are willing to do their best each day, to go over the small steps toward the goals you want to achieve.
Bob: You started with your friend, how many employees and virtual team members do you have today?
Dimitrije: Now we have eight teams, eight of us in each team, and we are planning to grow at least double by the end of the year.
Bob: I imagine things can get quite difficult as you're doing all the things that you're doing and growing your team, what do you do to overcome any of these tougher times? What keeps you going when things get hard?
Dimitrije: Well, if you are an entrepreneur you need to be motivated all the time. So, you need to find a way you can motivate yourself. I think this is really important if you're growing a business. There are times when things are not going well and you just need to find the things that can lift you up again. My family is a really great source for this, I have a really good support from my family, and I'm the one who has crazy ideas every day. I come home and say, "Okay, I found something new I need to do something with!" They say, "Okay, this is great, but be careful."
Sometimes it helps, sometimes it's not, but I know that they will stand beside me whatever I decide. So, maybe they will say, "Okay, this is not good for them but it's a good way for taking in ... maybe we can talk this out and make a better solution." So, it's really important to have support from your closest. And, of course, from your team. That they are thinking in the same direction as you as an entrepreneur or a leader of your company.
The basics matter
Bob: You work a lot with people who are new to the business, or they're new to online marketing, right? They've been doing business offline for quite a bit? What do you think is a really big misconception that a lot of people have about entrepreneurship as they're growing into that field?
Dimitrije: It depends on the market. What is specific for my market is that people don't know how the economy works worldwide. A lot of things here in Serbia happen really fast and people are building companies really fast, based on some information they have, or connection they had, during those times. Now, you need to build a company based on economics, based on demands and requests from the market. Sometimes it's hard to create the right solution for the companies, especially here on my market.
My main thing for those clients is to teach them how this works. And because of this, I'm working a lot with education, I'm working a lot with the free webinars, with free educational material. I'm trying to, first of all, bring the basics to the market for them to become familiar with how social networks work, how email marketing works, how you can build your email list. Some basic, basic things.
So, if they learn this basic thing, then I can teach them some, I don't know, mid-range thoughts on some more important stuff that can bring them a lot of profit to their companies. This way of teaching people about some basic stuff got me in a position that I create my own name on my market by teaching my potential clients. I managed to raise the bar with my offer, so I can now offer some premium stuff that we are working in my company, like marketing automation, or website personalization, which was totally impossible a year or two years before.
Tools for every marketer
Bob: Let's switch gears for a minute. I know that you have been an active member of our Leadpages community and our partner here Drip, you're certified in both of those as a consultant, how has the Leadpages software helped you in the marketing of your business?
Dimitrije: Okay, I may find myself as a Leadpages evangelist, like you, something like this but on my market. So, I've been using Leadpages for, I don't know, five, six years? Something like this. And I'm an early adopter of all your programs. And this is one of my favorite tools that I've been using every day. So, how I found out about Leadpages like I told you, I'd been trying to find what the biggest names from the industry, which kind of tools are using, and it always ended up Leadpages, Leadpages. So I said, "Okay, this should be good and I will try it."
It was really a funny situation because, in this time, I was trying to work on my list building and I was creating a lot of pages on my website, and I had a problem with my web designer who'd been waiting for more than two months to create one Lead Page, and I was so angry about him and trying to find the tool that I can start using to speed up the process. And, of course, I found Leadpages, I created my first Lead Page, and I had around 70% of conversions. I was so thrilled about this information that I started using it every day and then I started using it for my clients because my idea of working here is, I don't want to offer to my clients anything that I already tried on some of the projects. When I try it on my project and I see that it's working, then I can put it inside my offers. This was some test procedure for Leadpages and when it showed that it's working, then I started using it also with my clients.
Bob: I don't know if you have started using the website builder that we just recently launched, have you had any experience there yet?
Dimitrije: To be honest, I still didn't, but I have plans with two of my clients, which this part of your offer will be the ideal solution because they are working with a lot of franchises, and we need to cover for each franchise some small website, and this website builder will be the perfect solution for them. Because they will have the possibility to not only build really fast a small website for each franchise, but they will be able to have control over those websites. So, if some franchise says, "Okay, I don't want to be anymore." They can just shut it down with one click. So, they were thrilled about this new information and I am looking forward to starting to implementing it. I think it will be within one month already, I will share it.
Tools of the trade
Bob: I want to talk in a minute about your list building practices, I know you have a fun story for me, but I always love to know what other kinds of tools are people like you using that the Lead Generation can learn from? So, besides your email list building obviously with Leadpages and Drip, what are some of the other tools you might be using for project management, or any other marketing that you're doing that you're really excited to tell people about?
Dimitrije: Okay, in the last few months I'm using a lot of Typeform for my list building because I get really great information about people who are opting in on my list. So, I'm using it also to know who they are, what they want, to get some additional classification before they opt-in to my list. I'm using ManyChat, there's a Facebook chatbot, but with Zapier I connect with Drip. So, I have two ways to know my audience, through email and through ManyChat. So, I can check their profile to see the picture at least, to know who my audience is.
I'm using RightMessage to personalize not only communication through email but also the website, where they are landing on the website.
I'm using Webinar Jam as a tool for my webinar, this is a really big part of my lead generation strategy. And what else ... It's enough for this.
Bob: Yeah, I think so. That's a pretty good list. And of course, we'll have that list in our show notes you can check out at leadpages.net/podcast.
List building with webinars
Bob: Now, let's talk about your list building. Webinars are a huge thing for you, what kind of webinars are you creating for building up your Email list.
Dimitrije: Generally I've been doing live webinars. I love to be on live webinars. When I started to work on webinars I needed to solve one big problem: I wanted to create a lot of quality content for my subscribers and for the people who are following me, and I didn't have enough time. So, I decided to start working on live webinars, to bring some people on my webinars as guests, so I can learn from their experience, too. They can bring their own listeners to the webinars, and I can build a list really fast with the webinars. I can build my own reputation on the webinar because I am not the kind of shy guy, I can step in front of the camera and record myself.
During the live webinars, I have really good communication with the people who are on the webinars. Generally working a live webinar, with the guests, on the topics that I want to find some additional information which can help me and the people from my list how to do better business, or how to grow their business, or whatever, it's all about it.
Based on the three years of live webinars, I grow this thing to create the first online conference in this region. And it's a conference about the lead generation and the marketing automation called LeadCon, and you were the first keynote speaker at the first conference. It's really a big step I had with this idea and this brings me a lot of traffic to my page, it's a lot of new potential clients and just emphasized the thing that we are doing, me and my team, in order to educate people from this region. So, that's it. It's live webinars with live communication with the people who are on the webinar.
Elevate your webinars with a virtual summit
Bob: Excellent. And, I was really thrilled to be part of your first LeadCon. I enjoy wearing your shirt that you sent me from across the Atlantic Ocean, so thank you for that.
When you put on this first virtual summit, now you're getting ready to do, I believe, your third one here in 2019, right?
Dimitrije: Yeah, yeah, the third one.
Bob: What's been a real big lesson learned in putting on a virtual summit like that?
Dimitrije: Well, it was stressful, to be honest. But, what I did with LeadCon, because it's all about lead generation/marketing automation, I wanted to put in everything. Because we are teaching people how to do it, it needs to be everything done by us like this. So, everything was fully automated, everything was fully online, 100% online, and everything was prepared before so we can showcase not only how this can be done, but to show them how we'd done it. So, this was a really big thing for me.
We learn a lot by just putting this conference online because, for example, for the first time at the conference we wrote more than 250 personalized emails. We created more than, I don't know, 150 different graphics for social media, and copies for social media. I had 19 live webinars before the conference, I had three live webinars every week, so it was Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. It's a really big amount of time and effort to create this first online conference, but everything has come as it should be, everything was great. People who participate in this conference were so thrilled that they can not believe that it's happening.
A lot of people, which is really important for me, people who are not from IT. For example, architects, or people who are in the tourist industry, hotels, they use this knowledge from the conference and one month after the conference they get new clients with that knowledge. We were there to help them to really use this knowledge for their own business, and they just did it. This gives us much more value for the conference that we decided to, every next year, it needs to be even better and better and better. We show this, last year it was really better than the first one, and the third one will be way better than the previous two.
Converting leads to customers
Bob: Excellent. I'd like to go back to the webinars that you do for free, where you're using them not only for list building but you're using them also to drive sales of some of your partner products that you recommend. You're an active consultant for Drip, email marketing automation for ecommerce, for example, and I'd love to hear your story about how you're converting people on webinars to take action in a way that's helping you build out your Drip portfolio?
Dimitrije: Okay, as I told you, I'm fixated on economics, so the sales pitch on the webinar is something that is important for me. I always have some kind of call to action at the end of the webinar. I give a lot of value and then there are calls to action, which are logical next steps in the story, inside the webinar. So, I had a lot of sales during the webinar not only as, for example, tickets for an online conference or some education material that we are working. I had a lot of pre-sales, where I announce something that I will make during next, I don't know, one month and I pre-sell it on the webinar. It's really a good way to get some money upfront and to invest that money to create those online products.
I had one funny story after Converted 2017 where I was in Minneapolis, where I went home after the conference I organized one webinar only for people from my list – this is really important – only for the people from my email list who are listening to all my webinars or reading my Emails, they know who I am, they know what kind of content I am providing for them. And I create the webinar about three biggest lessons that I learned during your conference, Converted 2017, so I had around 300 people live on this webinar, and at the end of the webinar I went to introduce Drip as a software as one of those three things, and Drip as a software for marketing automation.
I wanted to show them how they can use Drip in order to speed up the process and automate their communication through email. And, I asked people after those three big things, everybody was thrilled about the ideas that I shared with them, and I asked people, "Okay, I would like to share some bonus tip with you, this is really the greatest thing that I learned during the conference, but I have one request for you. I will share with you this call to action in the webinar, and your task is to click on this link and create your free Drip account. I just showed you how Drip is good for you, so you can click here and create your Drip account, and if you do that I will share with you some of the greatest tips and tricks that can immediately boost your marketing automation. If you don't want to create a Drip account, okay I will ask you to leave the webinar. I will not eject you from the webinar, this is up to you. Be fair for the people who are clicking on those links and creating Drip accounts right now. I will wait a few minutes for you to create an account and then I will share this tip with you."
I ended up that 50% of the people who were live with me, 150 people, click on the link and create a Drip account. Some of them new, and some of them call me tomorrow and say, "Okay, I have to review because this is not my personal account, but it's a company. I need to ask if I can create a Drip account." But, 50% of them converted to become a Drip user. And I've decided after this, to record an entire online course in Serbian how to use Drip step-by-step. And I've recorded more than 4 hours of reading material to show them how they can do it as a gift for all those who are showing that they're willing to do extra steps in order to get some good content.
So, what is funny about it, tomorrow morning I receive a call from Minneapolis, and I think it was Jeff, and he asked me, "Okay, hi Dimitrije, I saw that we had 150 people opt-in to Drip. What did you do? Please just tell me what you did last night?" So it was really, really funny for me because one of my favorite companies calling me to ask my opinion, to ask what it is that I did in order to create such a big fuss and to bring those clients to become a Drip client in one day.
“It's important because I know that audience, I know that they have been following me for two years, they know who I am, they know the type of content that I am providing to them.”
Bob: I love that. And I think for anybody that is really good at sharing recommendations, what you just heard from Dimitrije is a really good set of ideas to get noticed really quickly, but also to do so in a valuable way, get people to take action, and then I love that you supported them after the fact with additional content. That's another important step for the retention of those affiliate referrals that you would have.
Dimitrije: It's important because I know that audience, I know that they have been following me for two years, they know who I am, they know the type of content that I am providing to them. It will not be possible if you are communicating with a cold audience, or something that doesn't know you. But, in this case, because I know that I have credit with those people, those folks. So, it was risky for me. It was, "Will I do it or not?" But I decided to try, and it shows really well.
Keep learning and testing
Bob: Now, you mentioned at the beginning of this interview, Dimitrije, that you learned a lot from some remote mentors that helped you to familiarize yourself with online marketing and so forth, now fast-forward to 2019, who are you listening to now? Either podcasts or mentors to continue to move your business forward?
Dimitrije: To be honest I learn a lot from following, it's not a commercial, but from following Leadpages, how you do it. Especially two or three years ago, when you had a lot of content with the webinars, with a lot of things that were really bringing the experts from the industry in our computers, in our podcasts, and to listen to those people, their ideas and their way of how they can do it. Also, I try to replicate some things in my business what you're doing in Leadpages and just it to the specific market that I am working. For example, the idea about the LeadCon was born in Converted 2017 because I saw the potential, this idea of how this can be converted to my market. Then, the idea of how you can do webinars in order to educate your audience because the audience that is educated is much easier to sell some high product tickets or something like this.
So, I use a lot of things that you were preaching, but now I'm generally following Drift, I'm following Pat Flynn with his Smart Passive Income, I'm following Michael Stelzner, from time to time he has really great people on his podcast, and when I catch something interesting name I'm trying to see what he's doing and catch some podcasts or webinars or whatever.
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Value delivery for the win
Bob: As we start to wrap up today's conversation, is there one key success mantra that you have for yourself? Is there anything that you look to for your own sake? And as people come to you wanting to know what is the key to really be successful in their business, what comes to mind for you?
“Don't be afraid to invest money, first of all, on your project. Then, if it's working, take it to your clients.”
Dimitrije: First of all, if you're working with clients, you need to help your clients to get more clients. And, if you do that, if at the end of the day when they pull the line and they see how many dollars or euros they invested in you as a marketing agency, or a marketing expert, and to see the profit they got from this investment, if they are in plus, you will always have a job with them.
If you are bringing the value to your clients, if you're helping them to bring more clients to them, you will always have a job with them. What I always do, test on yourself. Don't be afraid to invest money to try to something, first of all, on your project. Then, if it's working, to your clients. You need to be honest to yourself first, then you can be honest to your clients, to offer them a really good value. And to offer them your services on a high level, you need to go with a win-win situation. If there's no win-win situation, there is no long term connection.
Bob: I think that's super wise. Very, very simple approach, to deliver what you promise and pay attention after the sale even more than just getting the customer in the first place, that's really important.
Dimitrije: Yes, yes. Everything is very, very simple. I like to say that you really need to provide value to your clients. This is the first line. And then, you need to be normal, you need to normally communicate with your clients. If you're a good person, if you're a kind person to them, they would rather work with you than someone else no matter about results. It can be slightly lower with the result, but if you are kind to them, if they can see a friend in you, they will love to work with you.
Bob: Speaking of working with people, where can people best connect with you to learn more about LeadCon and the services Default Design is able to deliver?
Dimitrije: Okay, because LeadCon is a local based conference it's in Serbian, so it'll be quite awkward if I gave you the link to LeadCon website, you're not going to understand anything. But, the easiest way to connect with me is to go to DripConsultant.pro and to connect with me. It's in English and you can see there whatever you're interested in.
Bob: Excellent, well, thank you Dimitrije for joining me for today's episode of the Lead Generation. It was a pleasure getting to know more of your story as you're continuing to grow, and seeing great things ahead.
Dimitrije: Thank you, Bob. It's really great to be a part of this podcast and I'm really looking forward to seeing the other people who are here and to listen to some great stories.
Ready to take action?
What are your top take-aways from Dimitrije?
And what's one lesson you learned in this episode that you'll take action on over the next week?