Today we have Alexi Neocleous! Here to talk to us about what being a “born salesman” means and how his experiences turned his natural gift of the gab into a powerful weapon that allowed him to become the man that he is today.
Hello! Thank you for talking with us today. How about we start with a short introduction? Who are you, and what kind of work do you do?
Alexi Neocleous: Hello! My name is Alexi Neocleous. I’m the CEO and co-founder of Fubbi.co, which is a ‘content hacking’ company that we created in order to help others accelerate their sales cycles and increase their conversion rates. I have a long history of working as a direct response copywriter. I’ve also worked as a consultant and advisor for hundreds of companies at this point, all from different industries. And, more recently, I deep dived and got fairly involved in the book marketing industry.
For a little bit of extra introduction about what you are like as a person, can you share with us how you usually start your days?
Alexi Neocleous: I’m an extremely early riser — early as in, I get up with the sun early. And once I’m up, the first productive thing I usually do is check my emails. This is not as taxing for me as it may be for some people — since I normally only receive around 10 emails overnight. It’s mostly marketing emails, as my team and I communicate entirely on Slack, so I get it done pretty quickly and am able to be productive while I mentally prepare myself for the day.
Anyways, getting back on topic. Once I’ve caught up with my mail, I wake myself up with some coffee before going out to jog or to swim at the beach (when I’m in Sydney, at least). Sometimes I go to the gym for more intense interval training, and other times I go to the sauna for a more relaxed experience with some deep breathing exercises. It depends on how much energy I know I can or cannot spare on a certain day.
That’s pretty much it though! Straight after, I head to my office and start working immediately.
How do you prevent yourself from burning out during the day?
Alexi Neocleous: With the kind of work I usually do, it’s important that I take regular breaks to keep myself focused. For example, when I’m writing, I usually work in sprints. For me, that means working for 50-minutes at a time, with 10-minute breaks in between.
I can’t say that I’m the most perfectly disciplined in this regard, but I do try to keep this work-to-break-split on days when things start to drag. I’m a pretty heavy advocate on the benefits of full engagement after all, which means I take my breaks very seriously to make sure that I can always produce the best possible results while working.
Now. Looking back a bit, can you tell us a little bit about your early career? How did it shape who you are today?
Alexi Neocleous: I got my first job fresh out of high school. I had just started going to college then, at the University of Wollongong for a Business-Commerce Bachelor’s degree (which I later exchanged for a Political Science degree at the University of Sydney.)
Anyway, I was working a rather basic sales job — as an old-fashioned door-to-door salesman. To my surprise, and my boss’s too, go-figure, I ended up being pretty good at it. I remember my first day of work with the most clarity. My boss, an easy-going guy, had come up to me and said, as a joke, “Don’t come back until you’ve sold everything on you.” And so that’s exactly what I did. Ah, when I came back having sold all my wares for the day, the look on my boss’ face was one to remember. He just couldn’t believe it.
All in all, it was an ultimately satisfying work experience. It highlighted the strengths that I was only subconsciously aware of at the time and it pushed me to keep doing better. After a while, I did grow out of it though, it wasn’t something that I saw myself doing forever. But I still think of it as an excellent stepping stone for the past me, who was still trying to figure himself out.
And what exactly was the next step on this journey for you?
Alexi Neocleous: My next step is what I think of as my actual ‘starting-line.’ And that was discovering what I wanted to do as a career.
It was around 20 years ago; I was looking for a challenge. Something new, something different from the sales job that I had held for quite a while at that point. And, lo’ and behold, I found exactly that in an Angus and Robertson bookstore.
A marketing newsletter. One written by the Abraham Group and filled with all sorts of non-conventional marketing ideas. It hooked me in as soon as I read it. Prompting me to look up more of Jay Abraham’s works — from his white paper reports, to his books, and his tapes. Everything I could get my hands on, really. And when I ran out, I looked more broadly into the niche and submerged myself fully into direct-response copywriting.
It wasn’t necessarily the career one would expect from past-me. I was the kid who only achieved 52% in English at school, after all. But, I just couldn’t let it go. So, I spent a year or so teaching myself the ropes before connecting with the number one direct response copywriter in the business at the time, Brett McFall, to ask for a mentorship.
What was the result of your request? Was your application approved? (If so, what was your experience like as Brett McFall’s ‘mentee?’)
Alexi Neocleous: He said yes! I had compiled a portfolio of all my work up to that point and mailed it over to him. That had been a pretty nerve-wracking experience, but I can’t regret ever doing it. I received word back from him pretty quickly with a note that acknowledged my work as “great standard,” and we began working together soon after that.
Mostly, he referred me to the clients that he didn’t have time to work with, but he also had me going through and editing his work at one point. So, all in all? It was a great learning experience, I slowly, but surely, began to gain more confidence in my abilities under his mentorship. And, soon enough, I began reaching out to potential clients on my own — through phone calls, fax, general post, and later, email.
What was the next big step for you after that experience?
Alexi Neocleous: Just like my discovery of that Abraham Group marketing newsletter, the mentorship with Brett McFall was a big step for me in terms of moving forward, and I cannot be more grateful for Brett for acting as my first-ever mentor. He helped me get the traction that I needed to get going in the industry, and that, for someone as new to the game as I was back then, was irreplaceable. It was what allowed me to move forward on my own.
I took my independent work very seriously from then on. A notable experience would be my work with Rene Rivkin — who, at one point, I actually sent a 16-page report with improvement suggestions for his marketing strategies at the time. And I did that kind of thing over and over again, reaching out to clients, consulting with them, writing with them, and so on and so forth. Until, in the later years, direct response copywriting was overturned by SEO and data-driven content strategies. I personally started writing less and less then too. Now, of course, I work with various authors and marketing agencies, along with a team of copywriters that I manage, while I juggle two or so speaking gigs twice a month.
Before we move on, do you have any advice to give to someone who is just starting out? Perhaps based on a lesson you learned during your early career?
Alexi Neocleous: Get yourself a mentor and don’t settle for anything less than the best. Find someone leagues better at the job than you are. Someone who has the right personality, the right skills, and the right sense of virtue to succeed in whatever industry you want to breakthrough. Even if the idea of working with them makes you uncomfortable from the gap in your skills or the differences between your beliefs, find them and ask.
In the end, a mentor is not just someone meant to show you the ropes. You could do that all on your own if it came down to it. No, they need to be able to teach you to be the best person you can be for the job. And for that, you’ll need someone that will push you to get there.
Inspiring! Thank you for that. Now, moving on to more present matters. What have you been up to in the last couple of years?
Alexi Neocleous: Fubbi.co was a big focus of mine in the last couple of years, of course. It got its start while I was working as the Chief Strategist and C.M.O. of a nutraceuticals company that was seeing serious growth at the time — going from $300,000 to $3 million per month in sales in just about 6 months. It was an overnight success story that had our servers crashing, our sales funnels malfunctioning, our inventory management failing, and so on.
At the time, we had about 40 people in our Customer Support and Telemarketing teams, and even then, we were overextending ourselves. We had the leads, but we weren’t able to hunker down and actually nurture those leads because of the rather glaring holes in our content marketing and social media efforts.
In short? We were experiencing severe growing pains. And we needed a solution fast.
This is how I got the idea of making use of my pre-established super network of top-gun copywriters, content marketers, programmers, and web designers. And sure enough, pulling them on board put us right back on the right track within weeks! Allowing us to focus on more important matters that needed our attention.
In any case, the success of this particular venture had us wondering whether other companies have experienced similar growing pains, and why I, ultimately, ended up co-founding Fubbi.co. Which we developed as a service for businesses who need help managing their own growing pains without having to worry about extravagant recruitment drives or interviewing applicants. Especially during a time when they really should be more focused on things that will allow them to work on sustaining their growth.
In the beginning, you mentioned that you’ve recently ‘deep-dived into the book marketing industry’. Why is that? What led you to become so engrossed in this industry?
Alexi Neocleous: As someone that worked as a direct response copywriter for so long, I had my hand in writing the sales copy for an uncountable number of books, so I’ve been involved with book authors from the beginning. Despite that though, and despite my work at Fubbi.co, I was a little bit slow on the uptake. I didn’t realize just how big the book market was until the beginning of last year.
But, as soon as that realization hit? Well, my team and I have been creating content for articles, videos, emails, and all that for years at that point, so writing a book didn’t seem all that big of an undertaking for us. We started out with small tests, to begin with, mostly on Linked In. And, once we discovered just how many people there are out there looking for professional and high-quality book writing services. We were more than fit and happy enough to provide.
Lastly, for fans of your work. Can you give us some insider tips on how you are able to reach the level of success that you and your team at Fubbi.co do when it comes to content marketing?
Alexi Neocleous: As a quick tip, you need to be aware of how you are making use of your great content. Having created it, in the first place, is important, there’s no denying that, but you mustn’t forget the next step!
Using a well-known client of ours as an example (one that went from earning $0 per month to $6 million per month in under 4 years!)…Their tactic was to make use of their highest-performing emails by running them as Facebook conversion ads. In other words, they used their best content to the fullest degree, hit their highest-performing channel, and aimed for conversions above all else — generating thousands and thousands of leads. It’s a simple, but effective content marketing practice to remember.