How John from TFLeads Scaled up his b2b Agency By adding resource teams to support his clients

Zach Johnson

Dylan Carpenter

John Butler


John Butler


CEO, Co-Founder, Chief Lead Generator

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John is passionate about partnering with clients looking to grow their businesses. John has been doing marketing/sales/consulting for over 20 years, but he’s always wanted to start his own company and run things his own way and, to that end, received his MBA in 2010. After an educational stint within the startup scene and years of observing the best way to support sales teams, John and his wife, Tasha, founded tfleads in 2014. Tfleads is focused on delivering quality leads to clients and continuously finding new strategies to get results. John considers running this growing company and living in Austin a dream. Outside of work, John loves spending time with the fam and following sports.

Episode Summary


  • We dive into 5 of the top ways TFLeads generates leads for their clients
  • Adding new resource teams to support current client base and boost LTV
  • Taking care of employees with equity deals to help create an ownership mindset




John (00:00):

Yeah, I would say there's, there's two, we have five different outbound strategies. Um, I would say the two that are most effective are outbound through LinkedIn, as well as outbound through targeted ads. So targeted ads is actually something we started on just this year. We've been testing everything on ourselves last year. So it's a new value add for us, but we're basically leveraging, we have a lot of different data licenses. Um, and so we're able to take the criteria from our clients where they might say, you know, I want to get in front of CFOs or, you know, developers or engineers, whatever at these size companies where then finding the, the output of that with different contact information. [inaudible]

Carson (00:57):

On this episode of the rich add or add podcast. We have John Butler. John has been in the marketing sales and consulting space for over 20 years. And in 2014 he founded his company. TF leads. His company is focused on delivering quality leads to clients and continuously finding new strategies to get results. On this episode, he dives into the top five ways. TF leads generates leads for their clients, how adding new resource teams to support your current client base boosts LTV. And lastly, my favorite, how you can take care of employees with equity deals to help create an ownership mindset. You're really going to enjoy this money. Y'all so sit back, relax and enjoy the show. But before it begin, if you are an agency owner or media buyer, head over to to learn how their tools can help you scale your ads and get cash back that's without further ado here is your host, Don carpenter.

Dylan (02:03):

Well, how's it going everybody we're back in action with another episode of the rich dad, poor dad podcast. I'm your host today? Dylan Carpenter in the house. And today we have a very special guest who is an Austin based agency. These guys specialize in B2B for local business with crazy LTVs there, but it's actually a good friend of ours, you know, ran into him at a conference back in the day. He was just talking about a COVID vaccine. It's kind of wild these days, but shoot John Butler, the CEO over at TF leads. So I mean, what's good, man.

John (02:32):

Dylan, thanks for having us. I'm excited to be here. Um, I am well, yeah, I got my second vaccine shot yesterday. Can't believe it. And really blessed to be able to have a second vaccine shot today. I've heard that the second day is kind of a rough one. So I was telling you a little bit earlier. I'm starting to feel it a little bit, but, uh, I should be fine and that should be good. My wife is, uh, she got her second one a couple of days back and she's good now. So I think it's typically a day or so. And then you get,

Dylan (03:01):

Yeah, man, I could believe it's kind of creaky. You never know what's going to happen with being so new. So, I mean, hopefully it just blows over tomorrow.

John (03:08):

Exactly, exactly. Yeah. I'm excited to would get it behind me. Oh, true.

Dylan (03:12):

That will give everybody some context kind of your background, which I'll be getting into to, so everybody has an idea of what we're diving in.

John (03:19):

Yeah. So to give you some background, I, um, I've been running CF leads for over seven years now. It is a exclusive B2B outbound lead generation company. And so the way we see the world is there's three different types of leads where you've got word of mouth, that's the best kind. That's the free kind. You've got inbound people already coming to your website. They already know about your brand. And then our specialty is on our belt. Basically reaching out to people that don't already know who you are, or they need a reminder of where you guys are. And so that's kind of how we help people. Um, I would say the majority of our clients are here in Austin. Um, about 75% of our clients are here and our whole team is here, but 25% of our clients are outside of Austin all across the United States.

John (04:06):

Just kind of helping people in a different ways. Um, we are B2B industry agnostic, so we are trying to help people in whatever way possible to help scale and grow their teams work with all types of sales teams, as small, as one, as, as big as I think the biggest sales team we're working with now is close to 30 salespeople. So, um, so it really just kind of depends on what our clients need, but that's what we're all about is just trying to do what works from an outbound Legion perspective and get results for our clients.

Dylan (04:40):

Oh yeah. And I mean, this probably all stems from scalability essentially. So I mean, when it comes down, so how scalable from your perspective is word of mouth and referral?

John (04:49):

It's just not right. I mean, it's, the network is only as, as limited as your network is and you just can't count on it from a, just a, an ongoing cadence standpoint. It's obviously great to have a great network. Um, you want to lean in that as into it as much as possible, but at the same time you want something that's predictable. You want something that you can count on. And that's what we try to implement with our clients is some type of predictable model that they can expect a regular cadence of quality leads coming in the door for them

Dylan (05:20):

Now with predictable models. What kind of platforms are you using currently? Like what's the, what's the big generator for y'all?

John (05:25):

Yeah, I would say there's, there's two, we have five different outbound strategies. Um, I would say the two that are most effective are outbound through LinkedIn, as well as outbound through targeted ads. So targeted ads is actually something we started, um, just this year, we've been testing everything on ourselves last year. So it's a new value add for us, but we're basically leveraging, we have a lot of different data licenses. Um, and so we're able to take the, from our clients where they might say, you know, I want to get in front of CFOs or, you know, developers or engineers, whatever at these size companies, we're then finding the output of that with different contact information, uploading that into different ad platforms, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, um, even Google ads. And, and from there, um, basically serving up really targeted ads, creating lookalike audiences, all that good stuff.

John (06:26):

So that's a new, um, component that we're, we're definitely leaning more into just because we see the potential, but I would say LinkedIn and, uh, targeted ads right now are the best two out of the five. So the other three are, we have one-to-one emails. Uh, we also have warm calling, uh, we're kind of anti cold calling the spray and pray is no one likes that. And so from a warm calling standpoint, we'll only pick up the phone if someone has already expressed interest, but they just haven't gotten back to us on when they want to have that intro call. So for all of our strategies, we're trying to tee up intro calls for their sales team. The last strategy is it's also new for 2021 where it's really just dependent on if they have a really small universe of people they're going after. And it's custom gifts like sizzling physical gifts to people and trying to get their attention

Dylan (07:21):

As I'm a digital gift for a second. I'm like no way.

John (07:24):

Yeah, no, no. And I actually, it's funny you say that because I've had to clarify that with different, um, clients that we're talking to, they're like, you do what exactly. I was like GIF T S yeah. Um, but it's, it's interesting because, you know, for like, we have a restaurant supplier as one of our clients and, and they are just trying to get after, you know, different types of restaurant owners. And so we've talked about, um, a gift strategy of sending like charcuterie boards to the types of people that they're getting in front of just something it's, it's cooking related, you know, it's, you know, restaurant related. Um, but it's something that kind of gets their attention. Um, and so that's, that's a new strategy, but we're excited about that one, if it makes sense.

Dylan (08:12):

Uh, how has it been? So y'all been testing that I'm kind of curious of the ROI of that actually. Yeah. We've

John (08:17):

Been testing and it has to, you have to go for, it's more of like the home runs. You have to make sure that, you know, a closed deal with the people you're reaching out to is gonna, you know, more than pay for this type of campaign. But yes, the ROI is a hundred percent there. Um, it is a key way to get in front of executives, especially like we have one client that's fortune 500 focused only, and it's tough to get in front of fortune 500 execs, as you would imagine. And that's, it's just another way to differentiate yourself. Instead of them getting an email, a LinkedIn message was to probably already getting a gift can kind of separate you from

Dylan (08:55):

The other. Oh yeah. And I mean, even in my experience being more in the e-comm realm, I know a couple of brands have sent me like tapped clothing. Whenever I bought a pair of boots, they had a little handwritten card. Like we love Austin, Texas. And I was like, no way. That's cool. That's good, man. Yeah, they aren't cheap. And I bought two more pairs that my LTV tripled for them. So I mean they realize, you know, gifts or letters, they go a long way, whether it's B to C or B to B,

John (09:18):

They really do. They really do take some time, but you get it, you gotta put it in the town if you want to get the ROI.

Dylan (09:24):

Oh, for sure. So let's dive into the framework of this bad boy. What's your written ad, man. What's something that just actually killed it for y'all that you were maybe put kind of shocked on or something that's has that proof of concept that's just reusable or evergreen.

John (09:39):

Yeah, definitely. It really changed the game for us was adding additional resource teams to the mix. So let me explain what that means. We, we basically invoice based on how many resource teams, our clients, um, one access to them. So we, we have, um, four different teams. We have a strategy team, which is basically the client management side. We've got marketers, we've got creative team and we have an analyst team. So with everyone's team, everyone's time combined, it's equal to a full-time person. And so our goal is to try to get you as many leads, tapping into all these different expertise, um, as possible every month now until maybe two and a half years ago, we only did one resource team for our clients. And we started getting all these requests, okay, I'm happy, can not to X this can I have three X this?

John (10:34):

And so we, we actually needed to get big enough to where we can allow for, you know, having, uh, given our clients more time. But once we did that, it was a game changer. I mean, cause cause clients would ask us, how do we get, you know, a hundred leads or 150 leads? And at the time, you know, we would, we would be like, I don't know how we would do that because we're not big enough, but, but now we can easily say, okay, you need to resource teams, you need five resource teams, whatever it is. And we can easily get to the numbers of trying to get you to scale. That's

Dylan (11:08):

Awesome. Yeah. And I mean, it probably frees up a crap load of your time too, especially at scale and adding on more client base. I mean, there's a good trade off there to where shoot, everything looks good, but then overhead costs are creeping up because you need more manpower essentially. So,

John (11:24):

And clients, they want to know that they can grow with you. You know, if it's successful, I, I hear it. I mean, I actually heard it earlier today from the CEO from a prospective client. He's like, if this works, we just going to keep putting money into it. And, and that's, and that's the thing, that's the case for, you know, for most marketing campaigns, but it's basically, it's the truth from an outbound Legion strategy where you got to figure out what works and once you do, you just got to lean into it because that's how you really get to the scale element of things.

Dylan (11:53):

Now with y'all kind of being more on the targeted ads side more recently are, y'all kind of worried on the, how Facebook's adjusting the lead gen with special ad categories and how it's going to affect lead gen because that's, that's, that's the bigger industry that's going to be affected in my opinion.

John (12:06):

Yeah. Well, and especially too, because we typically start with Facebook, Instagram, and then sometimes we move to LinkedIn, LinkedIn, so expensive cost per click standpoint. So yeah, it's definitely going to be interesting. We're trying to keep our pulse on it as much as we can. Um, we're, we're trying a lot of different things like AB testing, you know, some of the different demographics and ways you can target on LinkedIn or Facebook as well as, um, just seeing if we can insert the, all the contact information that our analyst team researches or AB testing between those two things. So it's interesting just to maybe it's like, we just use our research. Um, we're, we're doing a lot of testing there just to see if, if we can trust the different filters that Facebook has. Um, or if we need to just kind of do the research separately, upload it and start creating lookalike audiences from there.

Dylan (13:00):

Yeah. It makes complete sense there. Yeah. Wow. That's a nifty little game plan strategy there. It's exciting on the team side. I mean, you got, you got to do it at some point. My gosh, I'm doing the reverse. I was trying to scale up, but I'm, I'm scaling back.

John (13:14):

I hear you. It's tough. It really is. You can only, I mean, if you only take on a certain number of clients as you know, and so our goal is to, to grow to, you know, a multimillion dollar company, um, as much as we can and you gotta get an add to the team. So that's,

Dylan (13:30):

And the amount of businesses out there there's enough for everybody to feast. You know, it really is.

Speaker 4 (13:36):

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Dylan (14:55):

So let's get to the fun stuff, man, working good for you. We love to kind of dive into the poor ads segment, AKA, something you thought would kill it that may have crashed and burned. So, I mean, what's your poor out here?

John (15:08):

Yeah. So actually I have two for you. So the first is, um, back in the day we actually tried a per lead, uh, invoicing because we started getting a lot of requests. You know, I'm all for, Hey, let's figure this out. You know, if this is something I'm getting on the sales side, let's start, let's try it. And, and what ended up happening is, um, when it's a per lead cost we found, and this kind of blew me away, but we found, we were spending more time talking about if something was a quote unquote lead, then actually we were spending, trying to get more leads. Um, the clients were, um, you know, when you, cause right now we're on a retainer basis. And so the clients have skin in the game, right? They want to make sure it's successful. They're getting the most from their money when it was a per lead basis.

John (16:03):

Um, it w it blew me away that execs at these different companies, they literally would just say, it's on you, go do your thing. And there wasn't half the support as there was when our clients were on retainer. We, we took a step back at some point and said, all of our best clients are on retainer. And so it was one of those, like just, eye-opening like, okay, we're going to retain her from that point. We haven't looked back, but we were trying to accommodate. And you would think with accommodating, you would grow. And, you know, it'd be something that you can keep doing, but it definitely just crashed and burned. It really did. It was where it was, it was, it became more contentious, you know, like you're talking like, Hey, that's a lead. Or like, I remember the one specifically, we'd see the head of marketing at Arby's for a client and, and the CEO forgot to join the call.

John (16:58):

And he was like, I'm not paying for that. And I'm like, we just didn't even be having the conversation. Like, it was obviously your fault. We did all the work to get them there. We never got them back. So sometimes you lose those leads, right. If, you know, especially if they're, if your client no shows them, um, it's tough for you to get that one back, but, um, it just became like this, you know, Hey, we got to figure this out. Um, and so now that now we just do, Hey, we're just trying to get you as many leads as we can get you all leads are not created equal. Like we have no idea. Um, we were doing everything that is the best way to get quality leads. We have a certain process that we go through, but that was a big one. Um, and another one is we, we also tried out back in the day where we would do a commission structure and, and so we would, they recharged nothing where we said, Hey, if we close something or you close something from one of our leads, then, um, and we get paid like 5%, 10% or something like that.

John (18:09):

Well, sometimes we will do, you know, six month, 12 month agreements to do the commission. Well, we ended up finding out, um, at, for one of our clients, they closed like a close, like a $250,000 deal, but they closed it as soon as our contract ran out. So they had kind of like slow, played it to where we would not have to get paid. Wow. And so we basically worked for free for this client for a long time. Um, and, and you think about, like for us, we only have visibility to creating leads. We have no idea. We have no control over how good they are in sales and closing the deal. And so that for us was just really eye-opening because it was like, okay, we can't put ourselves in that situation where, you know, we're trusting them to tell us if they close something for us to get paid. Um, so that was stuff that was, that was real tough. That's why you've been around for seven years and you kind of learn your lessons, but those are, those are two big lessons for us.

Dylan (19:14):

I've heard this one now one before a time. Yes. I mean, if you're doing some commission stuff, you better have access to fricking everything in the backend

John (19:23):

That's enough and tough. So, I mean, some of them did work, but for that one where it was like a big payday, it could have been, it was just like, we got to take advantage of a little bit.

Dylan (19:35):

Oh yeah. That sucks. Yeah. Well the final piece of the pie, the last puzzle piece, man, you know what the name podcasts, we'd love to kind of meet the crossroads in marketing and the financial side of things. So what kind of financial tipper principle could you kind of share with the audience based off your background expertise, how you work with clients, the agency. Yeah.

John (19:55):

Yeah. So something we've instituted, we actually started this last year. Um, but it's, it's something that I was a part of with another startup that I worked with years ago, but we, we actually give equity to everyone on the team and we want everyone to have an ownership mindset. So the way we do it, and this is actually exactly how the startup that I worked with did it as well. They, they carved out 10% of the company for non-owners all the employees. So, um, and the nice thing about that is you can get basically these kinds of equity units, um, at every six month interval, every six months, our, our team has a potential for raises promotions, equity, units, whatever. And so it's just another way to also incentivize the team for doing a great job. But when that startup that I worked with back in the day, when they got bought everybody cashed in and what I want for, for my team, because they work so hard and they're amazing is I want everyone when, you know, whether we, if we sell in the future minority share majority share, I don't know, but we want everyone to get paid.

John (21:13):

And we want people to kind of have this ownership mindset, um, between now and then to make sure that if they see something that's wrong to address it, um, you know, I'm the first to tell them that I'm not going to have all the good ideas. I'm not gonna, you know, have everything, um, together. And I, I need them to, if they see something, especially like they see something that they're dealing with on a day-to-day basis that they know isn't efficient or they need, they know it needs tweaking. Like they got to take ownership of that and, and, and know that, um, I'm going to a hundred percent support, whatever they're doing. So, um, so that's been a big thing for us. I think it really helps people, not only just stay with the company longer. Um, you know, I was side hustle in this for three and a half years, and then I, I quit my management consulting job to do this full-time, but like, we're starting to have employees that have now been with me three years and, and that's, that's just an amazing feeling.

John (22:17):

They they've seen it all. Um, from the very beginning, we've been doubling the size of the company every year. Um, COVID, you know, we just stayed, stayed flat. We didn't, uh, we didn't grow last year, but, um, it's better than not being in business. We had, we had some clients that's not in business anymore, which is unfortunate. So the goal is just keep growing, um, and really empowering the team to be an owner of the company. And, and they can really, you know, we, we do plan on, you know, three, three to five years down the road, having stuff out, some type of transaction. And we want people to, to know that they're going to see the fruit of their labor, um, at that point. So that's a big thing. I think it really helps just from a, just a mindset perspective for

Dylan (23:02):

Everyone. Oh, heck yeah. I mean, yeah. You know, that's, that's killer. I mean, everybody wants to make a big payday at the end and when it's kind of part of the process, it really does kind of get that ownership mindset, mindset kind of like you mentioned here now, when it comes at CF leads, did you build it to sell it or it was just kind of submit, just kind of crossed your mind, maybe we'll sell it or maybe we'll just keep it forever. W how, how, what's your perspective there out of curiosity? Yeah. Good

John (23:26):

Question. Yeah, I would say right now we're, we're leaning to, um, you know, build it to sell it. Um, I'm definitely open to, you know, Bain and company. They've got like the cash cow quadrant, you know, if it's a cash cow, it's, let's keep going, let's do this thing. But, um, but, but right now, I would say in three to five years, there's probably some element of transaction that happens. Um, just because, you know, the more I see with partnerships and the more I see with, you know, just combining with other networks and things like that, you can just grow so much faster. So, um, I'm not this, you know, my, my wife and I are owners, um, 50, 50 other than the 10% that that's the team. And we're just, we're not in this to like be greedy. We honestly want everyone to be successful.

John (24:17):

And so for us, it's like, if we need to give up some equity to grow faster, let's do it. And, and so we, we definitely love what we're doing. I mean, I, I found out, uh, I started as a banker. I always say that I'm a recovering banker and I, uh, fell in love with marketing and Legion along the way. And it was, it was honestly just a side hustle, just something that was helping with, you know, paying for, for new things. But I fell in love with it, honestly, and, and now it's just what I'm passionate about. But, um, but the intention initially was just, you know, side hustle. Let's try to figure it out. I did get my MBA. I did evening school for like five years. I knew I wanted to run a company at some point, but I just didn't know what it was going to be. So I'm glad it found me. Cause, cause I, I was looking for a couple of years and didn't know what it was going to

Dylan (25:10):

Be. Oh yeah. And I mean, digital marketing, that's where it's at these days, man.

John (25:15):

It really is. So many people are getting into it, especially cause the pandemic. I mean, there's, you know, it is a great thing to be into and, and be an expert at. So yeah, definitely encourage people out there. It's a great thing to get into. If you look at well, John

Dylan (25:30):

Man, this has been an absolute pleasure. How can we support you, man? How can people find you what's going on? Anything cool in the pipeline? You know? Yeah,

John (25:36):

Definitely. I appreciate it. That any size company, honestly, if you're a B2B focused, that's going to be our wheelhouse. If you were looking to grow sales, um, whether you're a one person sales team as an exec or you have a large sales team, um, we can definitely support you in whatever way possible. Um, you can reach out to stands for top of the funnel leads, um, T F and also something new is, um, you can now check, uh, myself and Jessica. Um, Jessica Swenson's is our VP at CF leads. Um, we are, co-hosting a new podcast called funnel vision. So check funnel, vision out. We are now on apple podcasts and Spotify, um, we're and Google podcasts, but we are, we're trying to get into a two other podcasts channels. So, um, yeah. Thank you so much for, for having me Dylan. And this is awesome. And I've been following you guys, you guys do an amazing job and I just really I'm impressed with you and what you're doing much.

Dylan (26:38):

Appreciate it, man. It's it was a lot more work than I originally thought, but managing, blowing up. I love it. I love it. You covered on John. We'll catch you later, man.

Speaker 5 (26:49):

All right. Thanks so much. Take care

Speaker 4 (26:55):

So much for listening to another episode of the rich ed or ed podcast. If you're like me and listen to podcasts on the go, go ahead and subscribe on apple podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and rich dad, poor And if you absolutely love the show, go ahead and leave a review and a comment share with a friend. If you do take a copy screenshot of it, email me Show me you left a review. I'll give you a free copy of the rich add or ed book to learn more about the book. Go to rich ed for to leave a review that are rich ed or Thanks again.

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About The Podcast

Jason Hornung is the founder and Creative Director at JH Media LLC, the world’s #1 direct response advertising agency focusing exclusively on the Facebook ads platform. Jason’s proprietary methods for ad creation, audience selection and scaling are responsible for producing $20 million + of profitable sales for his clients EVERY YEAR

Zach Johnson

Zach Johnson is Founder of FunnelDash, the Agency Growth and Finance Company, with their legendary Clients Like Clockwork solutions. Under Zach’s leadership, FunnelDash has grown to over 5,000+ agency customers managing over $1 Billion in ad spend across 41,000 ad accounts on. Zach’s private clients have included influencers such as Dr. Axe, Marie Forleo, Dan Kennedy, Dean Graziozi to name a few. Zach is also a noted keynote speaker and industry leader who’s now on a mission to partner with agencies to fund $1 Billion in ad spend over the next 5 years.

Dylan Carpenter

Dylan Carpenter

Dylan Carpenter will be diving into what he and his team are seeing in 200+ accounts on Google and Facebook when it comes to trends, new offerings, and new opportunities. With over $10 million in Facebook/Instagram ad spend, Dylan Carpenter had the pleasure to work with Fortune 500 companies, high investment start-ups, non-profits, and local businesses advertising everything from local services to physical and digital products. Having worked at Facebook as an Account Manager and now with 5+ years of additional Facebook Advertising under my belt, I’ve worked alongside 60+ agencies and over 500+ businesses. I work with a team of Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn experts to continue to help companies and small businesses leverage the power of digital marketing.

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