Work ethic is your edge. My work ethic is really the only thing that I can control. Combining clever strategy with being the hardest workers in the industry is what has seen my agency thrive. I believe there isn’t any problem that can’t be overcome by sound strategy and a sheer amount of work directed towards it.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Sabri Suby, Founder and Head of Growth, King Kong. Sabri Suby is the founder of Australia’s fastest-growing digital marketing agency, King Kong, and author of international bestseller Sell Like Crazy. Having originally founded King Kong in 2014 from his bedroom, Sabri has bootstrapped the company since day one and in under five years has successfully built a team of 63 specialists and a company valued at $30million with a growth rate of 312 per cent. As a pioneer in the digital marketing arena, his business has impacted more than 250,000 businesses in 42 different countries and has generated in excess of $1.3 billion in sales for him and his clients.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?
I got my start in sales when I was 16 years old. I sold in many ways: face to face, one to many, door to door, over the telephone. At the start I was really average at it, but I was also really dedicated. I eventually mastered it, and that was my first foray into the business world. I started my first business when I was 21 and since then I’ve sold a business, run a business into the ground and had a few big successes along the way.
I’ve always been driven to get new customers. In all those businesses, and even when I was selling, it was always about the challenge of getting new clients. That’s been the focus of my career and led me to founding King Kong and being in the position that I am today.
King Kong is now Australia’s fastest-growing digital marketing agency and has revolutionized the way businesses see results though digital marketing. We use true return on investment (ROI) to measure success in an industry full of cowboys counting vanity metrics.
But while challenging the status quo in this way has worked for us, it’s also a double-edged sword. When we run a campaign we literally have nowhere to hide if it doesn’t do well. We don’t cite social reach numbers, brand awareness or any of these soft metrics — either it made money, or it didn’t.
With a growth rate of over 300%, we are skyrocketing in our success with our Melbourne base helping clients across Australia and overseas with services including SEO, CRO, PPC, Facebook Advertising, web design and landing pages.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’m working on a platform to help businesses grow and I think it will help tens of thousands of businesses create much more predictable and sustainable businesses, get more clients and have a more positive impact in what they do. I can’t share any more than that about it right now though!
In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?
I am the founder of Australia’s fastest growing full-service digital marketing agency (Australia’s 28th fastest growing business), with clients around the world. To date we’ve generated a $1.33 billion plus for King Kong and its clients. This is a significant statistic in an industry peppered with vanity metrics that fail to demonstrate true ROI. Our rapid growth and success are in direct proportion to the value we’ve provided the marketplace, whether they are a client or not.
Our ROI-driven approach has been a huge contributor to growth and has allowed us to stand out and attract our growing client base in a very fragmented market. We can literally show and track ROI so it’s easier to give clients the confidence they need to increase budgets when more revenue is guaranteed. As such, King Kong has grown with our clients, which has been a huge contributor to our rapid growth.
Our philosophy has seen us completely disrupt the digital marketing space and King Kong’s continued success is living proof that real ROI is exactly what businesses want.
Businesses that want to grow, and grow fast, come to us.
Like many entrepreneurial efforts, my business venture was created in a bedroom. Five years ago, when I discovered an irresistible gap in the digital space and committed growing my business at unprecedented pace with groundbreaking results.
My experience and my success also led to me writing Sell Like Crazy which became an international bestseller within days of launching.
Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?
I chose to self-publish my book which was met with a huge amount of criticism. People said the fact that I wasn’t going through a traditional publishing house would mean I would struggle to sell any copies as I couldn’t distribute through traditional bookstores.
I broke through these barriers of skepticism and self-published, created my own website and now sell thousands of copies each month. The naysayers have simply shut their mouths in awe. I think it’s 98 percent of books never sell beyond their first print run and there are 121, 000 new books published every year. This is what we sell in just one month!
In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂
They were proven wrong by the fact that we now sell more books in a single month than most books do in a lifetime. We’re constantly doing more print runs with demand increasing, both online and in bookstores.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I grew up in a small regional beach town in northern New South Wales, Australia, called Byron Bay. It has a population of 9,000.
My older sister and I were raised by a single mother. I watched my mother hold down three jobs and work tirelessly to give us a great life.
She would wake up before the sun and go to work before we left for school, and she would often get home after we did. She would then head straight to the kitchen to cook us a healthy dinner. As exhausted as she was, she did all this with a smile and the affection and warmth only a loving mother can provide.
There were times that were rough and we had no money. Yet she always found a way to pull through.
When I was eight years old, I started waking up early so I could help her set up the café where she worked before I went to school. I would sweep the ground, take out the tables and chairs, and set them up. When I was finished, she would give me a hot chocolate and some breakfast as my ‘reward’. Afterwards, kissing me on the cheek, she’d tell me she loved me and send me off to school.
Watching my mother work so hard to provide a great upbringing for my sister and me taught me the most valuable lesson I’ve ever learned.
And that is this: Nothing in life comes without hard work. Nothing is given to you. You don’t get what you ‘deserve’. You get what you push, shove, scratch, and work your arse off for. My mother taught me firsthand that having a strong work ethic is the number one determining factor for success.
It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?
When I started my business from my bedroom, I was working from home and it was just me and a few contractors. In the early days, I had a toll-free phone number and I put on a whole bunch of different accents and pretended like there was a lot of people working at my company.
I pitched a big website project for $30,000, which was life changing money to me at the time. I sent them out a proposal, they were all good to go and it got down to the final day and he was like: “Yeah, excellent stuff. We’re all ready to go ahead. This all sounds fantastic, everything looks really impressive. I’d love to just come down to your office now. Just to shake your hand and look you in the eye before we get this deal done.”
I was at home, I had no office, and I had to come up with some nonsense answer because I couldn’t exactly say: “Hey I’m just working from my bedroom right now.” He would have turned around and said: “Well, who are all those other people that I spoke to?”
I actually lost the deal as a result of that. It was a slap in the face and a wakeup call, and I started asking myself: “What are you doing here? Are you just going to keep working out of your bedroom, or are you going to build something that’s a lot bigger than yourself?” And that was the pivotal moment that made me ask that question, pony up and get an office and really start to build a proper business.
Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)
- Not listening to the naysayers because they are people who aren’t successful and have already given up on their dreams. They’re simply sitting on the sideline shouting at the players on the field. There’ll never be someone that’s more successful than you that’s a naysayer to you and that’s the only reason they are naysaying.
- Looking at people that have achieved things against all odds and look at what they are achieving against the naysayers.
- Another strategy is to not give your haters any attention but also know you need to get haters and naysayers to be successful. If you don’t have any yet then you’re not well known enough and are not getting enough attention.
- Shut out all the noise and focus on what you’re doing and how your customers, audience, marketplace or tribe are reacting. Focus on those people because you only need 1000 fans to succeed.
- Work ethic is your edge. My work ethic is really the only thing that I can control. Combining clever strategy with being the hardest workers in the industry is what has seen my agency thrive. I believe there isn’t any problem that can’t be overcome by sound strategy and a sheer amount of work directed towards it.
What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?
“Successful people do all the things that unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do.” Everyone always wants a shortcut or a little hack or the quick and immediate solution to their pressing problem, but no one ever really wants to do the hard things.
When I made the decision to roll up my sleeves and make 150 cold calls a day to grow my business, I started to see a lot of success. Whenever I look at any activity, I never look for the easiest option, because that’s generally the wrong option. Every influential person has done something that nobody else wants to do.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Solving the number one problem that businesses face, ‘how do I get new customers?’, is quite a deep and meaningful endeavor for me. There isn’t really any other vehicle in the world like business to be a catalyst for change.
If you want to make a change in the world, you are going to need resources. When you change somebody’s business, it has a ripple effect. You could give back to a charity or a church or a cause, and you have the resources to actually make a change. I believe business is the best vehicle to do that. Wealthy people get a bad rap, but the wealthiest people in the world are the biggest philanthropists.
Can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us!
Dreamers: “They said it was impossible, I did it anyway”, with Sabri Suby of King Kong was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.