Sean Boyle is the Co-founder and Managing Partner at Momentum 360, a premiere marketing company offering services in 3D virtual tours, photography, and videography. We discuss ways to grow your business using virtual tours, why you need to consistently provide free but actionable content, and how to make your clients feel genuinely appreciated.
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Provide Free, Actionable Content With Sean Boyle
My guest in this episode is my youngest ever guest, Sean Boyle, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Momentum 360, a digital company in Philadelphia that specialized in promoting businesses with custom virtual tools and photography. Sean, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much and happy new year.
Happy new year. You are the youngest guest on this show, even though we had 150 episodes. How did you make it to be the leader of a company at a young age? What’s your journey?
First and foremost, it’s an honor. I’m looking to provide as much value as possible. It was out of scarcity and to provide for my family. My dad went to prison when I graduated high school. Essentially, my dad’s a big partier and we are a big party family. It was about the time that I was going to go to college and he was going to surprise me, or at least I thought of this big extravagant vacation, but it was the complete opposite. It was a very ominous call and he said, “I’m getting indicted by the federal government. I’m going to jail,” verbatim like that. It’s cut and dry. Black and white. I’m like, “I need some time to process this.”
The first thing that set in was how am I going to provide for my family. The months went on and I went to Penn State and I got into my major. I was like, “What’s the major that’s going to make me the most money?” That’s Petroleum Engineering and their $185,000 starting salary, so I started doing that. I got to be honest with you, no offense to any engineers out there, but I didn’t like it. It was very technical and I’m not even that good at math and science. I was like, “This is such a waste of my time.”
I got into entrepreneurship from a lot of my buddies who followed Grant Cardone and Alex Hormozi. I got into business with my one friend Mac who went to Penn State and ran a marketing agency. I prefaced this 360 side. It’s been a few years that him and I have been in business full-time and it’s been fantastic. It’s been a pretty crazy journey, to say the least.
It sounds like a crazy journey. When you did the engineering job, did you go and work from an oil rig or something?
In all honesty, I didn’t get past the first semester of schooling. It was my freshman year. I had an A-minus average. My grades were pretty decent, but I didn’t like the curriculum. I couldn’t see myself doing this other than the fact that I needed to provide for my family and make a whole bunch of money.
That’s always a slippery slope if you go for the money and don’t have the motivation and desire to excel in the field. It’s going to be hard to be successful. It was a good idea for you to switch. how did you get into this whole idea of a virtual tour? How did that come about?
It was around the time I was graduating from Penn State. I was talking with Mac and we were working in the office in Philadelphia, where I am now. I saw this Xbox-looking thing on our desk. I was talking to Mac. I was like, “What is this?” He’s like, “Some 360 camera. We have done a couple of shoots with it.” I’m like, “Why aren’t we making this a whole other side of the business? It’s so profitable and there’s so much potential and upside for it, but no one’s doing this right now.” It’s funny because that was back in 2020 before the pandemic.
We started skyrocketing as virtual tours became so in demand with restaurants, real estate, and all these brick-and-mortar businesses because people couldn’t go into them physically. It catapulted our success. The tide of momentum was so accelerated due to the pandemic. Fortunately, I can’t say the same about a lot of other people because it was the exact opposite. It was 2020 when we started the 360 side. We then started to gain multiple contractors in different areas. We have about 1,000 contractors in the US that we work with on a given annual basis.
We have about 50 Google My Businesses that have separate WeWorks and offices across the country. If you google a virtual tour service in Albuquerque, we have someone in New Mexico for you who can do the job. His name’s Steve himself. He’s one of my favorite photographers and Albuquerque’s beautiful, but that’s how we got into the tides of the Momentum 360.
How did you start the business? What was your mindset? Was it an organic thing that you got a couple of gigs and you just kept growing or did you have some concept in mind on how you are going to build this business as an organization, not just the personal service?
I said to myself, “What do I love to do?” I have always been involved in photography to some capacity and making content and also, with marketing as well, but I felt like it was very saturated. There are so many digital marketing companies popping up in today’s society. It’s like how can we make something that’s sexy that people also need that’s with marketing?
To me, it was a no-brainer. It was very organically driven. Once we started getting more gigs, we are getting all these key phrases and rankings. If we are in Philadelphia where the company started, we started ranking for virtual tour services in Columbus, Ohio, Baltimore, Maryland, Boston, Massachusetts, New York, and all these places in the tri-state area. I was like, “Why don’t we find people to help sell in these areas and also people to do the fulfillment?”
It became somewhat of a franchising business model, which we are franchising the business. We are bringing on all these awesome people to sell these tours, but also to shoot them and do the fulfillment. That’s what triggered the method and the system of like, “This is what people need. It’s very scalable and it’s sellable too,” because who’s going to buy a digital marketing company right now? They are a dime a dozen, but who’s going to buy a virtual tour company that’s nationwide and also does photography, drones, videos, and all this cool stuff? It’s a very nuanced type of business.
It sounds like you can tap into some network effects if you can be at both sides of the deal. You can get the sell side where people are promoting the service and then you get the fulfillment side. It’s a platform. Do you have a digital platform that allows you to transact these linkages or connections? How do you make the connections?
The main proprietary software that we use are these top three ones that we use on a daily basis are Matterport, which is on the stock exchange, a $1 billion company, CloudPano, and 3DVista. If anybody’s looking to get into the virtual tour business, I would recommend using them. They are the three best softwares in terms of lowest expense and highest profitability, but also ease of use and you don’t need that much equipment and spend tens of thousands of dollars. It’s a very easy model to get into. It’s funny, you could use an iPhone if you wanted to start doing virtual tours.
Tell me about your favorite framework. The theme of this show is management blueprint and I’m always looking for frameworks and unique ideas that the entrepreneurial guest discovered along the way. What has been the framework that inspired you the most in your business?
The framework that I can teach a lot of people is from one of my mentors, JC Hite, who runs Hite Digital. It’s a digital marketing franchise company. They have 24 or 25 locations. Each of them does $1 million. Hite is number 300 or 400 on the Inc. 5000. They are crushing it. I met him in Costa Rica and he was talking about a framework called FOBS. It’s the fulfillment of carrying out the promises that we make to our customers. Operations, carrying out the day-to-day tasks to ensure the business is running smoothly.
Business intelligence, not just researching what your competition’s doing and how to implement everything from a content perspective, website, or service base and make it your own, but also seeing from your team internally how can you motivate them because emotional intelligence is lacking. People need to understand how to talk to people, motivate them, and ignite that fire to want to work for this company. Not just for this company but for themselves to be a leader and not just the follower. The final one is sales and marketing. It’s to find new ways of acquisition and referrals, word of mouth, ads, SEO, social media, or email.Today, there is a lack of emotional intelligence. People need to understand how to talk to people and motivate them to ignite that fire to want to work not just for the company but for themselves to be leaders. Click To Tweet
I was watching one of your episodes with Michael Marchese. When he was over at Omnicom, he was like, “The fact that I was here at one of the largest companies in the world in this niche and I see content marketing as the future. That’s all I needed to hear, honestly.” I agree with Mike. It’s such a smart move to get into content marketing because it is the future. In terms of the framework, FOBS has been something that our team lives by and continues to strive for day in and day out, especially the business intelligence with the emotional intelligence piece to it.
Let’s dissect this a little bit. What is it about fulfillment? How do you go about it? What is your process and vision of it if you can explain this a little bit?
About 80% to 90% of our services are with virtual tours. The other 10% is photography videos, 3D rendering, virtual staging, and all the upsells that we do for a lot of these other things. The whole process is, let’s say I get off the phone with somebody and I send them a quote. What I do is I immediately send them a link to our official community. There are about 1,000 people in the community. It makes the client feel all warm and fuzzy. “I’m part of this community or family. I feel fantastic. I feel like I’m trusted. I’m not just some client who is probably never going to get heard from again, but I feel worthy.” We treat them like a VIP at the end of the day.
Is this client the end user who will buy the tour or is it the person who will shoot the tour?
This is the client, someone who’s going to use the tour. What we do is after we shoot, we send them another link to our private mastermind group where about 90% of those people want to opt-in simply because of the fact that they already are in the community. We give them a very nice virtual tour, trust us, and gave us a five-star review on Google. It’s like, “If you are interested in learning more about how to grow with us in content marketing, join this little sector where we are trying to expand your business.” That’s where we get into a lot of retainers and reoccurring business. We are not having to constantly sell these singular virtual tours every month. There’s a reoccurring model built into that.
Everything boiled down for fulfillment is not just based on delivering exceptional work, but it’s making them feel genuinely like they are appreciated and the communication is there. Everyone says that, but to carry that out on a daily basis with text messages, automated emails with reminders to shoot the Facebook, and the mastermind, all these things take such a priority with us for fulfillment. If we weren’t doing it, I don’t think we’d be at the success we would nearly with someone else because it’s so important to us.Fulfillment is not just based on delivering exceptional work; it's also about making workers feel genuinely appreciated. Click To Tweet
This has something to do with virtual tours or the community because the virtual tour is a marketing tool. If someone needs a virtual tool, maybe they need other types of marketing tools that can create unique content like a virtual tour. Is this the idea or there’s something else that you had?
Here’s an example, you own a bakery, Steve’s Bakery, and you are a big-time guy in New York City, one of the upper-echelon places in the world. At the end of the day, you are getting a virtual tour with us and you could also say, “I need some pictures of these croissants or these other pastries that I’m creating and some promo videos to promote it. Wouldn’t it be cool if I had somebody to come here once or twice a month to do ongoing promo videos, reels, and other videos like shorts on social media and website?” That’s what we do.
We start out very lightly by doing the virtual tour, which is the foot in the door, and then we say, “We have done some great work together. You are a part of our community. I would say and suggest that we would do something ongoing to continuously optimize your brand and help you get more followers, conversions, and impressions on all of these different mediums.” That’s the thinking there.
Community is such a key part of business growth and creating viral businesses. It’s very intriguing how you created that. Going from the fulfillment, now to the operations. Anything special there on the operations side that you can talk to?
We are a small business and we are growing. In 2022, we hit $2.2 million and hopefully, this 2023 we can double that, but we still are using a lot of VAs to carry out miscellaneous tasks, which I would recommend if someone’s on Upwork or Fiverr. Upwork is better for finding VAs. You can pay these people $4 or $5 an hour and then you have a US-based manager or director who essentially carries out the follow-up in-person or face-to-face video meetings where it’s very professional, but everything else is outsourced at such a minimal cost and expense that we are saving a lot of money to reinvest back into the company.
From an operations standpoint, we are on Google for pretty much everything. Sending assets with Google Suites and a lot of Google Drive links too. That’s pretty much how we deliver all these files. It’s very easy for the client to post on their website and socials, and that’s it. We are only going to continue to scale that model where more video editors, 360 editors, and people can do color correction. They are going to be onboarded with us. Harry chose me the handle more of the operations side of the business.
What about the sales and marketing side?
With marketing, we have invested a lot of time and money into SEO. If you were to google virtual tour service, we rank number one pretty much nationwide. We are one of the largest tour companies in the world, especially from the US point of view. A lot of that has to do with writing optimized blogs, which I can get into 2,000 words per blog, 5 inbound external links, and 5 geotag compressed pictures that are less than 100 KB, and these are things that people don’t know.
On top of that, you also want to be integrating location pages on your website too. That’s what we do. For instance, we have 1 location page per all 50 locations, and that’s in the United States. We have a couple of other ones in Europe like in Paris and Barcelona. To rank on Google for all these types of key phrases, that’s our main priority. The majority about 80% to 90% of acquisition is from SEO and then the other 10% is from PPC, email marketing, and a lot of other stuff. That’s from the marketing perspective.
The sales perspective is easy. A lot of people come to us already knowing who we are and trusting us from our social media. My process is simple. I say, “When can you talk on the phone? I have a cool 5 to 10-minute demo. Let’s hop on and show you an example and build some trust. Let’s get you in that community.” That’s the sales process. From there, fulfillment takes over. That’s carrying out the shoot, making sure the assets look good, posting it on their website, and then upselling them to these retainers that I talked about. It all integrates as part of a very nice cycle.
You make it sounds so easy the way you explain it. One thing that I’m curious about. You mentioned the location photos. Do you have to have a physical address with the photo to make it authentic to Google or it’s not necessary?
When we started out making these locations in 2020, I was curious about this as well. With Google, some locations you can get away with having a digital location saying, “We do business in Albuquerque, New Mexico without having a physical location.” Other locations like Chicago, for instance, need to have a physical address. What we did was we essentially said, “Photographer, if you have an extra space where we can send a postal code to and it’s not going to interfere with your business, please let us use it for that postal code. We will put it on Google. We will also make sure that we don’t necessarily have people come to this location physically.” It would be some office space or whatever.
On top of that, we are also able to build trust with these contractors too. That’s what we were able to do for a lot of these 50 Google My Businesses. A good majority of them are digital, but some of them like Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia location are physical locations where we have physical office space at. They are one of our partners who does the contracted shooting and scanning in that given area.
Do they have to be in an office area? Can this location be a residential area as well?
It can be both, but it cannot be a PO box though. That’s the one thing that Google can’t do. It’s a very weird thing because Google is as technological as they are. They are still sending out these physical postcards. I wish it was a better and faster way because some of these postcards take months to get. It’s annoying. If you want to do business in a certain location, let’s make it days instead of months.
Let’s switch gears here a little bit. There was a topic that you mentioned on our pre-call that you read Alex Hormozi’s book. This is a principle of business that you felt you were inspired by. It was something to do with doing something much better than what’s available out there or something like that. Can you paraphrase that?
The whole concept of making your free stuff better than their paid stuff. What by that is social media, including TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and these platforms are free things that you can post. Why not make such good content that is going to help business owners? That’s so much better than when people charge.
Let’s use a comparison. You have company B and company A. Company A has content that’s free that provides so much value that is helping thousands of businesses every single year. You then have company B which is essentially charging for this information and it’s not as good. Company A not only is going to win out 10 times out of 10, but they are going to build so much trust in so much value in the marketplace that when they do charge you something, it’s going to be at an astronomical rate, but it’s at a justified rate because you have proved yourself already and you have value.
At that point, the price tag of it doesn’t matter because you know it’s going to be valuable and you have already proved yourself. If they are giving free content that’s already helping us build already, I can imagine what this paid thing is going to be. It’s going to be incredible and it going to change our lives, not just our business. That’s the whole philosophy around this. That’s why I’m so diligent. I try to provide as much free actionable content on my socials, on my business, and on my personal as much as I can.
When people say, “What packages do you sell?” “We sell this,” and they are like, “You are very expensive.” I say, “Yeah, we are. I should be able to charge as much as humanly possible based on what the market says. I firmly believe that because the value’s there. You know that the value is there because you already trust and know me from social media.” I’m able to build a good relationship based on that. That’s the whole principle there. I’m fascinated by it.
I love this idea of helping people and this mindset of abundance and giving it away. I’m listening to a book about Zoom and how Zoom managed to break through with all the other platforms already out there like Webex and Skype. What they did is they made it completely free and they also made it completely frictionless. It started to take off even though it was not a new concept per se.
I’m curious about what are the use cases of virtual tours. What do people use this for? I understand the restaurant would want people to be able to go around and the real agent would want people to look around and check out the house, but what are some of the more unusual use cases that you have come across?
The biggest thing with virtual tours, it all boils down to conversions. We guarantee more conversions for your niche. Back to Steve’s Bakery, so you are a restaurant bakery. We are guaranteeing you more in-person customers from the tour. If you are a school, we guarantee you more students from the virtual tour. If you are a real estate agent and you have a beautiful listing and we shoot it with a virtual tour, we are guaranteeing you not only more foot traffic, but a higher sales price because there are more people i.e., there is more demand and you are going to have to put the price up a little bit. It’s more conversions for your niche. In a lot of cases, it results in that client being able to charge more money because there’s more demand for what they have.
Give me some use cases where people used virtual tours for something that was unexpected to you.
The thing that’s been the most unexpected was a client in Louisiana that we worked with. They didn’t call us and just scheduled a project form, and we had somebody out there. They were looking to do a virtual tour of their house to put in a jacuzzi inside their living room area. They wanted to make sure the dimensions were perfect instead of an architect of the sort who can take measurements, but cost thousands of dollars. They are like, “Let’s do a virtual tour of it. We will check the dimensions. They come with measurements.” It’s like a Tony Montana thing in Scarface, where they were going to put a whole jacuzzi in their living room. That’s pretty much the most unexpected and fun project that we have ever done.
The other thing I wanted to ask you about is virtual reality. I saw that some of the virtual tours are available on VR as well. I have never worn one of those Oculus VR headsets or any other VR headsets. Can you describe the experience if someone uses a VR headset for a virtual tour, what does it feel like? What does it look like?
It’s unbelievable. To people who have never been in an Oculus experience or any virtual headset, imagine putting on sunglasses, immediately you are essentially in a TV setting, phone setting, or on a digital screen where you can pick and choose what you want to see. You have handheld controllers as well that you are also using. When you have the headset on and you are going through a virtual tour, you essentially can take these buttons and almost like you are using both feet to walk through a place and also click on different tags if you were physically there.
It’s cool because we have the tags and everything compressed to what a human being normally would be, which is roughly about 5 to 6 feet tall. When you are walking through, you are quite literally walking through it as if you normally would from height-wise. It’s not like cutting anything off whether you are too big or too small. It’s the Goldilocks size or the perfect size and you are able to go through it as if you were there. To people who were using the Oculus for the first time, they almost get motion sick because they are like, “I’m in a virtual reality. I don’t know what it is,” but it’s very cool. It’s going to change the world and it is changing the world. It’s a very unique experience.Virtual reality is cool, and it's going to change the world. It is changing the world. It's a unique experience. Click To Tweet
Does it mean that you can shoot a virtual tour so that people can have this immersion experience of being in that house, for example, and walking around and looking at the different rooms? Is this a different way of shooting or it’s converting the video into a VR format that can be simulated with this Oculus headset?
Yes. Let’s use an example of going into a very luxurious house. The virtual tour is done in you with the headset. There’s an option on all of our virtual tours to click the Oculus icon. If you click the icon, you are then immersed in it. It connects with the headset and you are in it. You have 2 controllers and you are in this 5,000 square feet $10 million mansion. It’s beautiful. All of our tours are integrated with VR headset capability.
If our readers would like to get in touch with you, learn more about it, maybe get the virtual tour, and connect with you, where should they go? How can they find you?
It’s very easy. All you guys got to do is go to MomentumVirtualTours.com or you can google Momentum 360 and you will find us. My offer for all your readers is you contact us and tell us that you found us from the show, and we will be giving you a free social media reel. As I said, it’s a completely free social media reel on me and we will help you guys to scale with your business. That’s how you can contact me. I’m sure I’m getting a lot of inquiries from this. That’s how you can contact me and redeem that reel offer.
I might take advantage of it myself. Thank you, Sean, for coming to the show. I enjoyed talking with you. For those of you reading this, check out Momentum 360 and check out Sean Boyle. He has a LinkedIn page as well. We now come to you twice a week with exciting entrepreneurs who share their unique frameworks with us. Have a great day.