When a friend of mine moved to Asia so we could work on this product and our SEO business together, in person, we had one TV show that we watched every single day: Millionaire Matchmaker. The combination of seeing hot chicks and then learning about the various ways people have become millionaires is a pretty good watch on your lunch break (at least for young guys).
One of the people we found very interesting on the show was Robin Kassner. She runs her own PR firm in the beauty and fashion field.
If you watch her on the show, you might not think of Robin as the smartest crayon in the box. Going into my call with her, I didn’t really know what to expect. I just hoped it would be interesting and she would have some value to share.
She did. I was absolutely blown away by how this girl talks and operates off the air. Watching her on TV, she’s the last person I would think of having as a business mentor but I honestly hope I can talk with her on a more frequent basis because of the ideas she shares.
During the call, the worst thing happened: The recording didn’t work.
It was 2am for me (almost 3pm New York time where Robin lives) and my eyes were closing in on me. I was gutted.
I had stayed up all night to have this interview and then it turned out to be amazing and value packed. It was gone, all of it.
I stayed up for another hour frantically writing every single anecdote and story that I could. I hope I’ve captured the value in the conversation here and that it makes for an interesting read. I’m in bold…
Hey Robin, thanks for taking the time out to chat with me.
Hey Glen, no problem at all. Can you hear me okay?
Yes sorry. I’m in Thailand at the moment and we had a pretty bad storm here over the last few days so my internet is down. My cable actually got cut due to the weather. So I’m using phone internet at the moment.
Apologies if I drop in and out of the call.
Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. How can I help you today?
Thanks, I appreciate you being able to do this. Hopefully you saw my email and basically what I wanted to do was pick your brain for a little bit. I’m basically behind a community of people who are looking to start their own marketing businesses. This is not just your regular person who thinks that maybe they want to do it, but people with drive and passion and a real desire to make something happen with their life. Since you’ve had success with your own brand in this industry, I wanted to see if you could inspire, and motivate our audience with some of your advice.
Oh totally, that sounds really cool. I’m happy to help out in any way that I can.
Awesome. I guess then the most obvious question to start out with is what gave you the idea to start a fashion and beauty PR company? Why this? Why not something else?
Well, to be honest with you, I never planned to do this at all. I’ve had a lot of random jobs over the years and I guess you could say that I just fell into this industry and found out that I was really good at it.
Going back quite a bit, I was working for a company who had asked me to write some press releases for them. They had someone doing it already but they were sick and they wanted me to fill in for that position. I wrote some of their press releases and I – apparently – ended up doing a better job than the person who usually does this all of the time.
I was writing about a fashion company which sells bags and the press release was picked up in tons of places and got them a lot of mentions.
I realised it was something I really enjoyed doing so I wanted to pursue it further.
You’ve obviously had a lot of success both personally and professionally. How do you actually get clients in this industry? Do you go out and approach them, do they approach you after seeing you on TV?
There are a lot of things that I do when it comes to getting more clients.
I actually focus a lot on SEO and my company ranks for a lot of terms related to beauty PR, fashion PR and PR in New York.
What’s different for me is that I won’t just work with any company. I have to be excited about what a client wants to do or I won’t take on that work.
So if I had a company selling car tyres and they wanted to pay me crazy amounts of money per month, I still wouldn’t work for them because it’s not something I’m interested in.
Something we actually teach is building a marketing company, not for anyone and everyone but to hone in on a specific niche. What do you think about that?
Absolutely people want niche companies. Like you could be Edelman in the PR world and be making billions of dollars catering to everyone with money, but that isn’t what I wanted for myself. I see the most potential in catering to a specific market.
You have to be passionate about your work to do the best job and keep clients and I just couldn’t do that if I worked outside of the beauty and fashion verticals.
Going back to your attracting client’s comment, I also think the branding that I put across is very important as well. When I was copywriting and writing press releases for the company before starting my firm I used the word ‘ode’ a lot. When I decided to go on my own I had the idea of calling my company ‘haute’ like ‘hot’ PR. Originally I did want to call it one but then I was scared people would just think about Quaker Oats.
I brand it as Haute PR because we’re a hot company, we do hot work and we can make you hot.
I don’t really like to push what I do and my business but I’m very social so if there are ever times when I feel I could help someone with my business I’ll bring it up in conversation and often get clients that way as well.
Has been on Millionaire matchmaker did anything for your business in terms of getting more clients?
Yeah, it has been huge.
At the end of the day, the key is to be where your clients are.
Since you’re from the UK you probably know about ITV2 but over here in America, we know that as Bravo TV. There was this one point a few years ago where Bravo invited me in to do an hour-long interview for their TV show. What I didn’t know was that before they aired the interview, they ran two back to back episodes of millionaire matchmaker and then my interview after that.
One of my friends is a makeup artist who does work for some of the stars of the housewives of Beverly hills. She told me that Daniel Day Lewis was on a flight and he was tuned into this show on Bravo. So for three hours, he sat there and just kept watching these millionaire matchmaker episodes and then the huge interview with me.
Some people don’t seem to like my personality at all but other people really connect with it. I often see celebrities in my day to day life here in New York and it still amazes me when someone I know from TV comes up to me and says “Hey you’re that girl from MM. I love you”, even people I really love and look up to.
Your potential clients probably aren’t watching TV shows like this, but mine is. When they see what I can do for myself as a brand they believe I can do it for them and their company as well.
Earlier you talked a little about doing some SEO. A lot of people we talk to are very interested in expanding their business i nthis field so I just wanted to ask you to elaborate on that a little bit. Did the SEO company contact you, did you contact them?
I get dozens of emails every single day from SEO companies offering to help my website. I think I somehow signed up for some SEO list at one point in my life. I just get all of these emails and it seems so spammy to me, especially because I never asked for it.
When I first started my company I literally didn’t know anything about SEO. I was writing these articles and blog posts and getting some search engine traffic but still didn’t know too much about it.
To be honest with you I’m not 100% sure how I ended up hiring a company and how they approached me. I think I actually found them on eBay. I ordered some backlinks and all of the other stuff they do and they did a good job so I asked them to do some more work for me.
These days I know all about keywords and keyphrases and our company ranks really well for a lot of terms which brings in clients so I’m happy with what they did and how the company grew in this area.
That’s pretty interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone hiring an SEO company from ebay before but I guess it makes sense. They are pretty much the marketplace for everything. We talked a little earlier about your success and how well you’ve done. I want to flip that a little. What do you think your biggest obstacles are to the growth of your company and continued success.
I get bored quite easily. I’m not sure if I can see myself doing this for another number of years.
I really want to get into real estate. I think in the next 5 years I can make about $20 million in real estate. I don’t want some new fancy houses that celebrities are living in but houses that are crumbling and falling apart so I can fix them up and sell them for a bigger profit.
I’m not going to be stupid about it and put all of my money into it because while there is a big potential upside there’s also a bigger risk. Especially compared to what I’m doing now.
I don’t know if you know the Hamptons but there’s this house there that I would really love to buy and do it up.
You’re not going to make them all pink, right?
Hahaha. Well that’s the funny thing. I won’t do that for all of them but this house in the Hamptons is in a really wealthy area on Flamingo road. I mean, flamingos are pink, I love pink. This house is falling apart so I really want to do it up and make it pink. Make the lawn pink. The walls pink. Everything pink.
And then what I’ll do to make all this money is finish the house and then when I’m back on TV I’ll make sure that when I’m filmed I’m being filmed in one of these houses that I want to sell.
Then I can sell it for quadruple the price because it’s been on TV.
I’m pretty surprised that your biggest obstacle is you saying you just getting bored of the business. Would you just sell it or take a step back?
Probably sell it. I mean I could give my assistants more responsibility but definitely in the next 5 years I think I will have sold it.
Sales aside. You’re running a successful business. What makes Haute PR stand out? What makes you better than your competition?
There’s a company that talks bad about me and other companies here in New York but I won’t mention them because I’m totally against talking bad about other companies. Sometimes I have clients come to me and they’re all like “well you charge $5,000 per month but this company is only offering to charge me $2,000”
And I’m just thinking to myself yeah, but I know the kind of work they do so you may as well just give that $2,000 to charity. I didn’t even charge as little as $2,000 when I was starting out because I know I couldn’t do anything with that kind of budget.
It costs me $575 just to do a press release.
What makes me stand out is that I can get myself out there. I can get on TV. I can get my clients so much press that they don’t know what to do with it. At the end of the day I need clients with a good budget but more importantly I get them results.
I’m very upfront with them about what I think I can do but I don’t really try to sell myself. If someone wants to work with me, great. If I’m excited about what they’re promoting then I think I can help them. If they aren’t interested in working with me and just want the cheapest package possible then I’m not going to go all out and try to convince them otherwise.
I think my personal drive and determination has a lot to do with it as well.
I’ve always known I would be successful and I think it helps that I love proving people wrong.
From a young age I knew I was going to be successful. Even when I was flat out broke I told my mom I was going to have a pink apartment and a pink Mercedes. She laughed at me when I said it, just like my friends, but that just gave me more drive to be successful.
An old boyfriend of mine laughed in my face when – about 10 years ago – I told him I was going to start my own PR firm. He said i wasn’t pretty enough and didn’t have the right connections and so on. yet here I am. I knew I was going to make that happen.
Just like when I talk about my real estate ventures right now people look at me like I’m crazy. Like what I’m talking about is just ridiculous.
Well, that’s exactly how people looked at me and acted when I said I’m going to start a PR firm.
It’s funny because obviously we don’t really know each other but just hearing the conviction in the way you say that I actually believe your real estate venture is going to be a success.
Well, you know, why not? We just have one go in this lifetime so why shouldn’t I have goals like this? Even if I fall short there’s nothing better I could have been doing with my time anyway.
I really like that attitude. You’ve provided a ton of value here, and a lot of reassurances and I really appreciate that. Can I just wrap this up with some final advice for people running their own marketing biz. Let’s say I sat you down with someone who wants to be successful, he has the drive and the determination but he just needs to make it happen.
Things aren’t going his way, yet. What would you say to him?
I think a large part of success comes down to your drive and your self-esteem.
Your self-esteem is only going to grow from all of the little victories you have as you continue on your journey so don’t try and do everything at once. Take the little steps and over time they will amount to something much bigger.
Glen you said something to me earlier about telling your mom when you were 12 that you were going to be a millionaire and she just laughed at it and thought it was cute. I’m sure you know this but her reaction was not coming from a place of wanting you to fail but not wanting you to get hurt if something doesn’t work out.
You’ll see people do this a lot to you in your life.
For instance when I was on Millionaire Matchmaker the first time Patti told me that Luke, the plumber, would never date anyone that looks like me and that he wasn’t attracted to me.
Patti doesn’t know that I date guys just as hot if not hotter than him all of the time. I kind of just stayed with him for a while to prove a point to Patti. Me and Luke are still good friends to this day.
There are a lot of successful people in certain fields who didn’t start out in the best positions.
Look at Oprah. She was a poor black female who wanted to get on TV. Nobody gave her a break. She had to work her ass off just to become a local news reporter and look at she ended up.
Or what about Martha Stewart. When she cooked Thanksgiving dinner for her family for the first time she totally messed it up. She burned the whole dinner. It didn’t stop her from continuing to do something she loves and now she’s one of the most recognisable names in the cooking world.
The most imporant point is that this is all we have.
You can probably look back at all your old school friends who you thought were going to make it and be big and successful and maybe one or two of them, if any, have actually had any sort of success.
I truly believe that anyone with a passion can go ahead and make themselves a success in the industry they want to target as long as they stick on the path and have a clear goal about what they’re hoping to achieve. That goes for the people you’re coaching with their marketing businesses.
If they believe they can do it and just stick with it, the only way is forward…and up.