- Devon’s experiences in the Navy
- The one thing Elevation Marketing wants with each of their clients
- Building trust between client and agency
- Stories from the success vault
Send us your questions, comments, feedback, praise! We can’t wait to hear from you!
Devon Hayes: Hi, I’m Devon Hayes.
Amanda Joyce: And I’m Amanda Joyce. And today’s topic is Behind the Blueprint: Getting to Know Your Host, Devon Hayes. Here’s why you should care. Gain insight into the expertise and unique perspectives that shape the valuable contractor marketing advice that we bring to you each week.
Devon Hayes: Welcome to Trade Secrets, where we demystify digital marketing to help contractors get the most bang for their marketing bucks.
Amanda Joyce: This is for you, if you’re a contractor looking for actionable marketing insights.
Devon Hayes: Learn from home services industry experts to elevate your business through simplified marketing strategies.
Amanda Joyce: Let’s dive into today’s trade secret. Yay. Best topic we’ve ever had. History of the show and the history of always.
Devon Hayes: Definitely not.
Amanda Joyce: Oh my gosh, I’m so excited that we get to dive in and just kind of learn more about you. My business partner, one of my best friends, all the things I get to talk to you every day, but our listeners don’t, and I think it’s really important for them to get to know who you are and understand all the incredible value you bring to the table. Understand your chops as a marketer, as a contractor, marketer, all the things. So without further ado, let’s dive in a little bit.
Devon Hayes: All that buildup?
Amanda Joyce: Yes. Yes. Drum roll please. Okay. So one of the things that I find so fascinating about you and that makes you so good at what we do today is your experience in the Navy. I want to talk about that. I want to talk about early baby Devon, straight out of high school heading into the Navy, and just how you feel like that experience in the Navy has kind of shaped your career trajectory then and now.
Devon Hayes: Yeah, so, okay. When I was, I don’t know, in high school senior year, I had no idea what I wanted to do in life. I actually, I didn’t think I was smart enough to get into college, and so I knew I wanted to travel and see the world. So I was like, why not join the Navy and kind of see the world and figure it out? And no one in my family had been in the military, so it was really out of the blue when I did it. But going into it, when I tested, it was really funny that ASVAB told me that I should be an airplane mechanic or something. I was like, what?
Amanda Joyce: Just like I’ve always dreamed.
Devon Hayes: I had always been a strong writer and creative, and so I was like, no, give me something in communication. So when I went in, I was a radioman and while I was in that merged with a data processor to make what’s called an IT, which we all know what an it is now. So anyways, so when I went into the Navy, it was a pretty technical job, but it was comms. I did shipboard comms, secure, non-secure voice and data. And so I learned a lot of technical things pretty quickly, like building a circuit from the ground up to communicate and secure non-secure circuits. But yeah, I didn’t really know, I had a knack for the technical piece of things, but I really excelled in the military and I was on a RADCON team, which my ship was out of Guam and it serviced all the submarines in the Pacific fleet.
And we had, because we service submarines, there’s obviously nuclear submarines and I was on the RADCON team and was responsible for comms if there was a radiological incident. So I just really excelled and I apparently understood technology more than I ever knew I did. So I did active duty for four years. I was in, during 9/11, I was the first, it was actually 9/12 in Guam for me. It was the middle of the night and my friends and family were calling the barracks and they were like, “Get to a TV, go turn it on.” So I went and I turned it on and the barracks officer on duty happened to be my chief. And so we’re sitting there watching and she’s like, “Wisner,” that’s my maiden name. She’s like, “Go get your uniform on.”
So, we headed to the ship. You have to have an AB combo to get into the safe to load the new crypto to get the comms coming from the White House. I was actually the first on scene on my ship on 9/12 for us, getting the information coming in and having to, my job was to route it and we were onshore, so I’m sure the captain and the EXO, they were getting phone calls and actual internet communication, but official government comms were coming through radio. I had to route that to them. So it was just my chief and I that went and then everyone got recalled to the ship and then we went out to sea.
Yeah, that’s aging myself a bit, but that’s when I was in-
Amanda Joyce: Seriously getting goosebumps, that’s crazy.
Devon Hayes: So I did four years active duty in the Navy, and then I actually got accepted into college here in Colorado and I had new orders to my next duty station, which was admiral’s duty in Hawaii for the commander of the Third fleet. And I was actually to go work their IT department for the admiral. I’m just letting you know how cool I was in the Navy. No, but I was like, I got into college, I’m smart enough. Oh my god, I’m getting out. So I got out and then just did the active reserves for a while and then I went to college and had a dual major in international business and marketing. And then after doing that I was like, now what? Well, I went to Metro for a year and then I went to CU and graduated from there. But anyways, nobody cares about that.
All that to say that I guess I didn’t know I had the technical background, but I really liked the creative part of marketing and advertising. I grew up thinking that I would be someone who would make up the catchy jingles to commercials and stuff like that. I love creative things like that, but I don’t know. So what I love now, I guess I’m kind of jumping ahead a little bit, but what I do now with SEO, it’s the perfect combination of having to be creative, use technology, do data analysis to come up with a comprehensive strategy because it’s different for every market and every customer that we work with. So this didn’t exist when I graduated high school, so there’s no way I could have known this is what I would fall into.
So it’s kind of like the perfect job, but telling my story, going back after graduating college, then my first job I got was actually for a massive electrician, Mass. Electric, literally they are a subsidiary of Kiewit Construction, which is a huge multi-billion dollar general contractor that I’m sure everyone’s heard of. So I went there and worked on a wastewater recycling facility. It was a brand new construction. I didn’t have to smell the shit all day, it was brand new. So I just kind of fell into construction as a niche right out of college. I didn’t mean to, my dad’s a contractor. My uncle was an iron worker, so is my cousin. I just have a long line of contractors within my family, but didn’t mean to kind of fall into that niche. And so I went from Mass Electric, then I moved across the country for a boyfriend to upstate New York and I worked for a GC up there.
And then sadly after that didn’t work out. Not sadly, not so sadly, not sadly at all. I moved back home to Colorado and then started working for Vertex and that kind of altered things. I think my life’s course pretty substantially vertex. They are. I mean, they act as an owner’s project manager. They’re really well known for their construction defect litigation services, expert witness testimony, things like that. So kind of a more technical construction niche. But that’s where I had one of, I guess even still today, someone I really admire and respect and look up to the CEO and one of the owners, Bill McConnell, he was a great boss. And then, I don’t know, he was just really inspiring. And after I eventually moved on because I wanted to make more money and worked in the financial sector for a little bit before going on my own, while I was dabbling in this financial sector work, he was like, can you please just come?
Can you please moonlight for us and do X, Y, and Z? We’ve been through two marketing people since you’ve left in nine months. Apparently it’s pretty technical and hard to write about, can you just execute these tasks for us each month? I’m like, yeah, sure. So learned a ton from that business. It is way more technical than the contractors that we work with, but it really makes you kind of understand the space and understand the bigger, I don’t know, the bigger picture in terms of how the economy impacts everybody from the macro down to the micro. So it really shaped, just gave me a different perspective on things too. So I think that unique experience really helps as we’re coming up with strategies for our clients too because we’re not just focused on the tactical things. We do look at it from a bigger perspective and what is going on in the economy and in the market space and in their market space to come up with the different strategies that we have in each vertical, in each market.
So I don’t think that I would’ve even thought to assess that if I didn’t have that experience. You look at the market, but I don’t know that you really look at the big picture and GDP and following construction spend. I don’t think that’s something that I ever would’ve considered had I not worked in this space. So anyway, that’s kind of the really long winded version. So then to how I got here, after a year of working in the mortgage industry and being the marketing director for a massive lender here in Colorado, I very quickly learned that that wasn’t a good fit. The culture wasn’t the best, but at the same time, my husband was the owner of a roofing company and every morning he wasn’t racing to get in the shower, work out at 5:00 AM to get out the door by 6:15 to make an hour commute to the other side of town. He wasn’t stuck on this hamster wheel and he was doing great and I was kind of jealous.
And about that same time I met you and that’s when I learned that you had your own marketing agency. And I was like, what? You can just do that. And it literally blew my mind that you had this successful agency and when I met you, you’d been doing it for five or six years or something. And I was like, for real? And you had this beautiful house and you just had all this stuff going for you. I’m like, oh my God, she’s got a hot tub. She’s got a guest chalet, if you will, you know the one. So anyway, so all these things combined, the universe is like, here’s your husband. He’s this great, amazing, wonderful guy. He’s in the roofing space and then met you. And so then all of those things kind of combined and with Bill asking me to do that stuff on the side, I was like, well, if I can moonlight on the side for him, maybe I can do this on my own.
So then shortly thereafter, kind of went on my own, started doing the marketing for Elite Roofing, and then you and I started working together because I’m like, I need your content skills. I can’t do everything and I know enough to know where I’m weak and you’re strong. And so I loved that we got to work together before we eventually joined our agencies and did a little bit of cross-selling. And then here we are today, what are we going on almost five, is it five years in November?
Amanda Joyce: It’s our five-year anniversary.
Devon Hayes: Our five-year anniversary. Yeah. So that was my whole background. I think you started with a very simple question of did the Navy help get you to where you are, long story. But yeah, lots of construction experience along the way after the Navy.
Amanda Joyce: Absolutely.
Devon Hayes: Also, I think being in the Navy prepared me for the contractor space. There’s not a lot you could say that surprises me or shocks me. And you have that trait too, just I think that’s it.
Amanda Joyce: Yeah, exactly.
Devon Hayes: A beautiful thing.
Amanda Joyce: Growing up with brothers, that helps too.
Devon Hayes: Yeah, that’ll do it to you.
Amanda Joyce: Absolutely. But I want you to talk a little bit too about Elite being really the first contractor company that you really worked with that you cut your teeth, not in a big engineering firm, not when you were really focused there. Talk about you went from, you had the Vertex thing going to help you launch your business, but then Cody and Randy reached out to you and wanted you to help with their marketing.
Devon Hayes: And it was different because I was Vertex, it was on an international scale, whereas marketing director for their construction services, and so marketing on an international level and then even nationally, and then pairing it way down to just local, first of all, I’m like, oh God, I could do this all day. This is so much easier than a nationwide campaign and strategy. So with Elite, it was funny. I had been doing my moonlighting and side hustle and then getting into my own business, and it was not Cody’s idea. Cody and Randy are joint owners of Elite Roofing, and it was actually Randy who was like, will you take a look at what we’ve got going on? So I took a look, I’m like, “Ew, you guys, what are you doing?” Their website was literally, I think just pictures of six coupons and there was some other weird stuff on there.
They didn’t own it. I was like, I asked their web guy, I’m like, “Can I look at the analytics?” And he’s like, “What’s Google Analytics?” So they didn’t have any tracking on this. They had nothing, and I never wanted to butt in, and I’m sure Cody felt the same way. So when Randy asked me, it was really nice. It was like, well, let me just take a look. Then the relationship went from there, but I mean, immediately we had their website needed something, it was so bad. So yeah, I think we started with just little projects here and there, a very small retainer. They were still a small company. They were just getting started. This had to be about 2013, maybe, 2014. I think so. Anyway, so they were much smaller then. And then as we hope to do with all of our customers as they grew my services and what my retainer with them grew and kind of expanded.
So it was kind of cool learning about roofing and learning what works and doesn’t work. And what’s so beautiful about that relationship is there’s a whole bunch of trust, because obviously I’ve got skin in the game too, so it’s not a waste of money. So it’s nice to say and take that to where we are with our clients too. This isn’t me guessing or following an SEO 101 course. This is proven. Look at their positioning in the Denver market, one of the most competitive markets and truly sharing, because we only take one contractor per market so that we’re not cannibalizing, robbing Peter to pay Paul kind of thing. We can share what we’ve learned in other markets with our other clients and it’s like, look, this really worked. This didn’t work, but what we learned is X, Y, and Z.
So yeah, it’s helped, I think, shape and build trust for our agency with roofers for sure. But even the home services space, the metrics and a lot of the selling is kind of similar. Homeowner’s pain points are the construction, the communication is always a pain point. So they have a lot of the same pain points and they’re trying to reach the same people.
Amanda Joyce: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know, it’s been so fun to… Even back in the day, you were pulling me in a little bit before we merged where I was helping do content stuff for a week then, but knowing where you took them from to when I got involved and then to where they’re today, it’s such a fun test case, and-
Devon Hayes: It’s so nice to have that trust because I know they could be like, well, it’s the owner’s wife, but when you have something to prove and show, look at your positioning, look at the leads, whatever. Look at all this stuff, and it’s so nice. There’s just a lot of trust there. And they absolutely know I have their best interest in mind. And so that’s what we hope to have with all of our clients because when there’s that trust and that we truly care, then when things look bad, because there’s an algorithm update that you know we’re not sleeping on the job and trying to put you in a bad position. We look at your money, like it’s our own money because again, my dad being a contractor and stuff, I know how hard earned that money is, and I never want to take that for granted that we’re being trusted with your business and your marketing dollars. It just is inherently, part of my soul to take care of people.
Amanda Joyce: And you’re there every day to see what Cody goes through as a business owner in the space, the stresses he deals with. Sometimes money’s flying in the door and everything’s great. Other times life is slow. And it just gives you such a unique perspective into their just experience. And then it makes it that much more exciting to get to meet these guys that are salt of the earth, really great people, and really help them where they need it most.
Devon Hayes: And listening to those stories, like being married to a roofer. Then I get so many ideas for content. I’m like, listen to this crazy story. I’ve got a great idea. Let’s do X, Y, and Z. And it’s just things that you wouldn’t know. You can research a space all you want to, but when you’re having those conversations, when you have the content interviews with our clients, those conversations, you get so much more out of them than what SEM Rush or Ahrefs tells us users are searching for.
Amanda Joyce: Exactly or what an AI bot could ever tell you. What he can tell you over the dinner table about an interaction you had with the client earlier in the day is gold that you would not get otherwise.
Devon Hayes: Yeah, exactly. So I mean, it is quite beneficial that my husband’s a roofer and that I kind of just fell into that space. But I did have a huge, all my experience was in construction and technical up until my 12 month stint in the financial sector. Yeah. Learned just enough to know that wasn’t my-
Amanda Joyce: It’s not your space.
Devon Hayes: Not my space. It’s great for a lot of people, and I just was not a good fit. Yeah.
Amanda Joyce: Exactly. I’m going to go back to what I know.
Devon Hayes: Yeah.
Amanda Joyce: Okay. So I know we just talked about Elite a lot, so this might be an unfair question to ask, and this to me, I would think that you would lean towards Elite, but are there any other success stories that really stick out to you about your experience just in the contractor marketing space that’s a point of pride for you?
Devon Hayes: I know, I know, and I hate to lean on Elite. We love our Vancouver electrician. That one’s been awesome. We even have a smaller roofer in Dayton, and his dad passed unexpectedly pretty young, and he took over this roofing company and he was very green. And so, that’s kind of a feelgood story just because I know his positioning is so strong, and that one’s a feel good story just because knowing him and that story, you just really wanted it to go well. So I do love that one, because like they’re killing it in Dayton. And then of course, Elite Roofing, we’ve gotten a lot of clients from them because people reverse engineer and they figure out who does their marketing because if they’re number one in Denver, then they can do it for me in my market. And so that is a point of pride, and it’s kind of a fun story.
They definitely have worked with other agencies for direct mail or doing some graphic design. But yeah, we’ve done all of their digital marketing and strategy for coming up on 10 years. It’ll be 10 years here, I think next year. So that one, I’m trying to think. I’m really proud. We’ve just got a lot of good stuff going on. Our plumber in Australia, it’s only been, I don’t know, three months maybe with him, not even three months, two-
Amanda Joyce: Not even, like I’d say-
Devon Hayes: Not even.
Amanda Joyce: We’re about to start month three, yeah.
Devon Hayes: And just the growth and tweaks. I don’t think his previous agency was doing a bad job. They definitely were doing all of checking all the boxes, but they just needed more of a technical strategy. And I love to see how quickly it’s already paying off in terms of everything we’re measuring for them. So I don’t know. I guess, yeah, that’s a long-winded answer, but there’s so many.
Amanda Joyce: Those are all great.
Devon Hayes: And I think why we work together so well is we just love our clients and just all of them. It feels so good to see them succeed, and it’s just, I don’t know. I love all of them and I love all of their stories, and I love being part of their story and their business.
Amanda Joyce: Absolutely. It really is personal. So we’re the lucky ones that they picked us to be the marketing partners.
Devon Hayes: Completely. Yeah.
Amanda Joyce: Okay. Let’s talk about emerging marketing trends in the contractor space. What are you seeing?
Devon Hayes: Video, video, video, video, video, video, video, Shorts, longs turned into shorts, Reels, YouTube Shorts. If I were a contractor, I would just get into the short space now. Get into YouTube. Search results now, you would have zero click search results where the answer kind of shows up on the page and you don’t have to click through to get what you’re looking for. Now YouTube videos are showing up for those kind of knowledge panel results. So that’s where I would focus. It has a massive impact on your SEO, and I love SEO. That’s my jam. But I think that’s where I would focus, what’s going to make you stand out, what’s going to make you be unique and help sell your brand, but also on the technical side of things, or the SEO, I should say, side of things, that’s going to move the needle for you.
So you’re winning twofold. As consumers, we’re consuming so much more video content than we ever have before, and we do it in quick snips. So a three minute YouTube video. While that is good for SEO, you can actually take that and pair it down into shorts and put that on YouTube shorts. And you don’t have to be on every social media channel, I don’t think, but pick one and just do it really well if you’re going to post it on there. But definitely YouTube shorts. So video, video, video, video, video that is, and I don’t even know if it’s emerging anymore, but it’s only getting stronger. I think YouTube shorts is more emerging than Reels or TikTok. Those have been around for a while now.
Amanda Joyce: Yeah, the longer form YouTube videos where someone’s just over educating me for too long, I think that for a long time was how people did video. And I can see how for a lot of contractors, like I don’t have time for that, but everyone’s got time to do some shorts. And you give those quick little tidbits of information that you wish every homeowner knew before you walked into their house, talk about a way to gain trust with them and to gain search rankings. And on top of it, we’ve also been having a lot of success lately with running YouTube ads with some of those shorter little videos as well. Another really inexpensive way to just get your brand out there in the areas that matter most.
Devon Hayes: Yeah, so I would say, yeah, definitely YouTube shorts. And then the other, I don’t know if I would call it a trend, I don’t even know how to talk about this little nugget, but our friend Bing, with their little, it might be at 3.7% market share now, but what we do know is nobody cares about, I’m sure you’re listening to this going, oh my God, they’re talking about Bing again. But our in-house metrics that we’ve seen across the board with Bing, you’re getting an 11% conversion rate versus you’d be happy with a 2 or 3% conversion rate. 5% is unheard of. In Bing, it’s 11%, and that’s paid and organic combined, but still, even if you do combined paid and organic on Google, you’re not at 11%. So that would be my other kind of-
Amanda Joyce: Maybe not a trend, but a little tip.
Devon Hayes: Yeah. Because of their, again, as we’ve mentioned before, when they had that partnership with ChatGPT, they’re taking a little bit of the market share, but those users are a lot more intentional, typically, like an older demographic who’s ready to make a purchase. And so I would say do some YouTube shorts and don’t sleep on Bing, as we’ve said, check out that podcast if you haven’t listened to it.
Amanda Joyce: More to come. More to come.
Devon Hayes: Yeah for sure.
Amanda Joyce: Okay. Oh my gosh, I have loved this so much. I love to just get people to get to know you better. No, before we close, what am I talking about? I want to talk personal for a minute. Why don’t you tell us about your family and where you’re from and just what you do when you’re not here sharing all your thoughts with us?
Devon Hayes: Oh, yes. So I live in Colorado. We’re in Littleton, kind of the base of the foothills. I live in this beautiful home with my husband Cody and my two boys and my dog, Frankie. You can see Frank and Connor and Cameron behind me there at the cutest little bit. Oh, I have this cute little picture. I got to show you my babies. They’re adorable.
Amanda Joyce: They’re so handsome.
Devon Hayes: They’re silly face. So anyway, so I live here with them and I think we just love the outdoors, try to do camping as much as we can and snowboarding, and I don’t know all the music and festivals and galas. Oh, and I do volunteer with SafeHouse Denver. I love them. They’re a nonprofit here in Denver, and they help victims of domestic violence and they help educate the community on domestic violence. And I’ve been volunteering with them for I think 12 years now, really a long time. So yeah, I love my time with them. And then of course, I decided because I wasn’t busy enough, I needed to volunteer with Connor’s school and help out on the PTA and wear that hat, which it’s great getting to know the business leaders in the community and a lot of the parents and kind of the business of school. So anyway, I definitely stay busy outside of work.
Amanda Joyce: Yes, this is far from all you do all day.
Devon Hayes: Awesome.
Amanda Joyce: Okay. Let’s close with, you’ve shared so many great tidbits, but is there any other last closing little tip you’d want to share with our listeners when it comes to their marketing efforts, before we call this one a wrap?
Devon Hayes: Oh my gosh. I hate to copy what you said when we did this for you, but trust your agency. I would say vet them out before you even hire them. Ask a lot of questions. Don’t make a fast decision on who you hire, because if you don’t have that trust, then you’re going to want to pull your dollars two months in before you see any results without understanding the work that’s gone in or maybe looking at the metrics. So I think that that’s the most important thing of all time.
We would love for you to trust us, but there’s a lot of great other agencies in the space, but you just need to make sure you’re asking all the right questions and things that would make you feel good and comfortable. At the end of the day, get that reassurance from them or how you would be reassured. Ask those questions and have that trust because it’s no fun for the agency to have a client that doesn’t trust them and thinks that they’re just highway robbers. That’s not a good fit. And you will have wasted thousands of dollars on maybe an initial setup or your first month. And I know for our agency, we invest very heavily the first three months on a whole bunch of things, let alone our time and expertise.
So to cut something short before that heavy investment actually takes hold is just a brutal mistake, and you’re going to keep reinvesting those same thousands of dollars upfront every time you switch agencies. So find someone you trust. And then I think you said that, and I hate to repeat it, but it is true.
Amanda Joyce: Yeah, absolutely. I couldn’t agree with you more.
Devon Hayes: And I do, and actually, let me throw this one in here and just make a little curve ball here. I think that there are so many good contractor business coaches out there. We’ve talked to, we’ve had on our podcast, Randy Stanbury, a four level coaching. He’s amazing, he is great, but Benji Carlson at Breakthrough Academy, I did a podcast with him. I am a breakthrough academy, Stan. I know several contractors through there, and their program is top-notch, and I think they help you understand the metrics to look for in an agency, but also looking at your own numbers for your own business, all that kind of thing.
I really feel like if you’re a business in, I don’t know, the 1 to $3 million range, or not even that, that’s beginning, but I would say one to $10 million range for sure. There’s a space for you. Find a program with a business coach because I think that is going to help you grow faster. They’ll help you understand the numbers. Maybe you don’t understand from your agency or help you pick an agency or help you prioritize. Do you need an agency yet? Maybe you don’t maybe need to focus on a CRM and some other automations before you’re ready to invest in that piece of it. So-
Amanda Joyce: Love it.
Devon Hayes: I’ll say, yeah, finding a great business coach would be, I think, really beneficial to any contractor out there.
Amanda Joyce: Yeah, I love that. And just to play on that a little bit, if you’re on the fence about whether or not you need a business coach, go back and check out that recent interview we did with Randy, and it’s probably going to blow your mind, and you’re going to be like, where do I sign up? The amount of things they can help you uncover in your business that you can’t see beyond the forest you’re going to, it’ll do great things for you. So freaking awesome tip. As usual. You’re brilliant.
Devon Hayes: Yeah. Well, thank you for letting me talk about myself for 30 minutes. I really enjoyed it.
Amanda Joyce: Best 30 minutes of my day. Yeah, thanks for letting me interview you. And guys, thanks for listening. We hope this makes you realize even more where our marketing chops are coming from and why it is you should tune in each week and lean on some of the advice we’re going to be doling out.
Devon Hayes: Yes, absolutely. Thanks guys.
Amanda Joyce: That was today’s trade secret. Thanks for listening.
Devon Hayes: Did you find this helpful? We’re just getting started.
Amanda Joyce: Subscribe, and don’t miss our next reveal.
Devon Hayes: Until next time.