723: Data Over Gurus: Building a Winning Local Marketing Strategy | Avi Kumar

Podcast Cover Image: Data Over Gurus: Building a Winning Local Marketing Strategy Featuring Avi Kumar
Podcast Cover Image: Data Over Gurus: Building a Winning Local Marketing Strategy Featuring Avi Kumar

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Are you ready to shatter some marketing myths and get real results?

Join us as we welcome Avi Kumar, the Founder and CEO of KUWARE Inc., a marketing and advertising agency that excels in growing businesses through organic and paid media.

Avi takes an irreverent marketer approach, looking past the star power of marketing “gurus” and dismantling myths. His no-nonsense, results-driven approach to business has nurtured long-standing relationships between his agency and clients for over 15 years.

Tune in to learn how Avi prioritizes data-driven marketing science over subjective criteria, helping others stand out and succeed in today’s saturated marketplace.

Don’t miss his insights on how to achieve true marketing success!

Conquer Local is presented by Vendasta. We have proudly served 5.5+ million local businesses through 60,000+ channel partners, agencies, and enterprise-level organizations. Learn more about Vendasta, and we can help your organization or learn more about Vendasta’s Affiliate Program and how our listeners (like yourself) make up to $10,000 off referrals.

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Data Over Gurus: Building a Winning Local Marketing Strategy


Jeff Tomlin: I’m Jeff Tomlin and on this episode, we’re pleased to welcome Avi Kumar.

Avi is the Founder and CEO of KUWARE Inc., a marketing and advertising agency that focuses on growing businesses through organic and paid media. Avi prides himself on being an irreverent marketer, looking past the star power of marketing “gurus” and shattering myths. 

His no-nonsense, results-driven approach to business has nurtured long-standing relationships between his agency and clients for more than 15 years. Avi prioritizes objective data and the science of marketing over subjective criteria, helping others stand out and succeed in today’s saturated marketplace.

Get ready Conquerors for Avi Kumar coming up next on this week’s episode of the Conquer Local Podcast.

Tech Architect Turned Data-Driven Marketer.

Jeff Tomlin: Avi Kumar, it is a pleasure to have you on the Conquer Local Podcast. How are you doing today, sir?

Avi Kumar: I’m doing great, Jeff. Thank you for having me here.

Jeff Tomlin: Well, welcome to the podcast. Maybe to kick things off, why don’t you tell the audience just a little bit about yourself? Tell us about your journey. Founder and CEO of KUWARE. Tell us how you got to what you’re doing today and what that path looked like a little bit.

Avi Kumar: Sure, certainly. This has been 16 years at KUWARE. We acquired Invisible about three years back which is working under a KUWARE umbrella as one of the White Label part. I’m a, actually, microprocessor architect. Worked for Intel, Motorola, and Apple companies doing microprocessors. Because the last one, the closest one I touched was Pentium 4. So that’s the background I came from. And after that got into marketing. Initially, a lot more technical marketing because that’s what I understood better. Slowly got into a little bit more software side of the marketing as well. We’re still biased towards more of the technical side just because of my background.

Local SEO & Paid Ads for Lead Generation.

Jeff Tomlin: I mean, clearly, you guys specialize in organic and paid search. And you guys feel that both of them are fantastic strategies in the local business space. Talk a little bit about some of the key strategies that you have for each of them. When you’re thinking about a small business customer, how should they think about prioritizing one over the other?

Avi Kumar: Sure. When it comes to local businesses, and especially the lot … A major share of local businesses are service businesses, or visit an office kind of a situation. Either they visit at home or the client comes to your office. In both situations, one of the things which I keep telling the clients is that so far strategies are very standard procedure. So it’s not a thing which is evolving and you’ve got to invent anything, it’s not that, it’s pretty straightforward. The technology underneath might change. What google sees as SEO one way or the other will change. But overall the concept is as simple as this that you want to be found hopefully without paying anything and that is the organic. You still got to spend money on posts and things like that. And then, if you are serious about the business, you’ll have to play in the advertising part of the business as well, the paid media, because that’s where you can control the faucet, if you will when you want. The organic is like rain, you can plan for it, and you plan everything, but it might not happen exactly right. Definitely, it’s free so you’ve got to leverage that. When you’re paying for water it’s a meter there, just turn it on. I’m oversimplifying, of course, the concept but it is actually not. When we use the term strategy and all … Especially I come from other side of the marketing doing it for big companies where they have to figure out and switch and go back and forth, it’s not that. So if a marketing agency is coming and telling you that “I’ve got some secret sauce or anything,” they just … Don’t trust them. What I like to say is that don’t look for unicorns look for just workhorses, the draft horses who will do this work for you day after day and in a pattern which they have known it works. That’s really what both sides are. So it’s more tactics than strategy. Because the strategy is already defined if you will, right?

Jeff Tomlin: Right.

Avi Kumar: In case of organic … For example, if you’re a local business you cannot live without Google Business profile, it used to be called GMB, most people still call it GMB. You got to have that. In fact, Google search has moved up and down but GMB always exist. Even if you don’t have a website you can still have a GMB. So that’s a basic thing given to it. And, of course, do a website because GMB does pull from the website. So those two things are, for organic, the basic level of marketing hygiene you’ve got to do and do it well. If you do 80% of that right you will start doing pretty okay with that. After that, of course, the standard SEO comes in. Advantage in local is you’re competing with just local so you’re not competing with everybody nationally. Same article from a plumber describing their plumbing can work in three different cities with some variation of the words because you got to just win your local market. Which is not possible for a national business, you’re competing with everybody so you’ve got to have the best article. You don’t, you just got to do it in local. That’s the SEO part. Just do the GMB do, do the … After that do the website basically. And the other thing I emphasize to local businesses, don’t try to go for taglines and all which are fancy. If it takes more than half a second for somebody to understand what you do you just paid … You overpaid some marketing agency. The message should be simple. You’re just providing a service, just get to it. I mean, if you do plumbing don’t look for a fancy, fancy line which will be difficult to understand, you take two seconds. Just do simple. After that just go ahead and do some link building. That was these few things. Just basic SEO, GMB, and website is all you need, and keep repeating it, keep doing more. Get reviews and all. It falls under that umbrella, of course, of GMB. The paid side, the strategy is … It’s more observation than strategy. What we found is that you can advertise, there are limited channels either you can work with. Or you can work with Google because it’s that important. Then there is Meta, you could certainly do that. Or you could go with the third-party partners like Yelp, Angi, and others. The big difference between these three things is Angie, Yelp, and others, sometimes they have a tendency to resell the same lead to multiples so it becomes a race to who gets to the lead first. You got to consider that in the paid. It can still work as a strategy if you’re hyperresponsive. It might still work to your advantage. Going back to the bigger part of it between Google and Meta … And, of course, TikTok. We have been doing things with it but it’s up in the air what will happen with the TikTok so we just don’t know, right?

Jeff Tomlin: Right.

Avi Kumar: It was cheap. For us, TikTok was working out almost 1/4 the cost of Meta what we were doing it. But we are not focusing that much. One strategy to consider seriously is, if you are going for high volume of leads you’ve got to pay homage to Google. Most of your money will go to Google. Now if you’re on the lower end of the leads, Meta could still provide you a reasonable amount of leads. Other aspects to remember is people get confused about this is that oh, yeah, it’s Facebook who’s looking for a plumber. They’re forgetting about all … Immediate urgency businesses. They’re forgetting about a small trip or a project which is not urgent. Which somebody’s wife told them, “Hey, we need to get that fixed” and they keep ignoring it. Because they are not going to the Google to search for it. But while they’re doing … Watching Facebook, if an ad shows up, it reminds them, they will probably call you. So there is that projects which is not … There’s not immediate urgency but it was needed. And Meta does work and it does deliver cheaper leads that way. You got to consider the spam and you got to consider the true cost of lead, of course. The takeaway there I  would say is, Google and Meta combination. For high volume you have to have Google, for lower volumes you can consider the balance between Google and Meta. So again, I don’t consider this as a strategy it’s more like a practice in what we found right now it works this way.

Question Data over Marketing Myths.

Jeff Tomlin: Yeah, I like that. Avi, you’re a fan of irreverent marketing. Why don’t you tell the listeners number one, what is it, in case they haven’t heard of it? And number two, why do you think it can help people stand out in … From the competition?

Avi Kumar: The irreverence started for me is coming from engineering. I did go to business school, and also I have that background, but I was primarily an engineer at heart throughout. So coming to marketing I was skeptical of things. So people will say, “This works, that works.” And I’m saying, “Really? How do you know?” That was always a question. It started with that that I was questioning everything and was irreverent of somebody telling me. And it didn’t matter how famous they were, what following they had. And ran into enough situations where a lot of these so-called you got to do this always turned out not to be true because it was not based on data. Irreverence here is basically check the numbers. Do try, don’t blindly believe it, right? That helped us quite a lot. Let’s say if you’re talking about local, for example, which we are just continuing that thought, a lot of marketing agencies will tell them, “Hey, you got a post on Facebook every day” and they will show the first Facebook engagement. But the fact is, unless you’re doing paid, the conversion from that organic postings is so low. Yeah, long term you want to build that probably but that’s not the first place I’ll spend my energy and money. Those metrics are easy to show as a marketer. I can show you got more likes, you got more engagement, but the metric which we … When clients come to us with a lower budget we tell them, “Just forget about it. We are not going to do any posting or anything on Facebook at all. Maybe once a week you give us something we’ll do it. Just don’t worry about those. Don’t worry about engagement metrics. Instead, the metric we want to go after is cost of a converted lead and how much business you got.” That number is not something which Google spits out or Facebook spits out. For that we need access to their CRM, we need access to their Service Fusion, ServiceTitan, whatever they’re using, and actually connecting that call to actual revenue. So there is a steps involved there. And let’s not go for the standard marketing metrics that we increase your traffic, we increase this, we increase engagement, let’s go for really what matters. In some ways, it’s just a pragmatic way of looking at things. Otherwise, just don’t blindly follow, “Hey, you can do this trick and you can do this and it’ll happen.” Other one is geotag your photos and upload to GMB. The first thing Google does is strips out all the tagging. And there are tools out there you can pay for or free which will tag for you. Really? It doesn’t work. So somebody said, “This is a smart way to fool Google.” So that’s the irreverence there. Does it work? Let’s test it. And it doesn’t work. So there are a lot of things like that which are … Have become myths or you got to do it. And maybe it worked at some point, right? It’s possible, right, maybe that’s where it came from.

Jeff Tomlin: Right.

Avi Kumar: That’s irreverence that whenever we see somebody saying something and bigger the marketing guru, more likely I’m going to test it. Because they have a following and there … People who follow them start repeating it and it seems like it’s a echo chamber, they keep hearing it back. Oh, this is what it’s supposed to do. You’re all supposed to do it. It has served us well by questioning. We learn more. Many times you find they’re right. Okay, let’s do it.

Large Strategy Scaled Down for Small Clients.

Jeff Tomlin: You guys work with both large and small size clients. With the larger clients, the plans that you have going forward are a lot more sophisticated. Do you have a similar approach when you’re working with small clients? Or does small business have a reasonable way that they can take a large-scale strategy and break it down into small pieces and make it work for them?

Avi Kumar: Probably not. There is a difference when we work with the large versus small. So one example is, we actually had a client who was spending half a million a month with us on ad money we were managing. They fired us because we were not spending money fast enough. I mean, the reason we were spending money slowly was because they were really not getting as much ROI. But they had a lot of budget, they just want to spend it. Because it’s a startup they want to spend the money. It’s a very different strategy there, right? What they want is just do it, just do it. Now in a smaller business, every dollar they spend they want return. It’s not a startup funded by a VC or anything. And now there are a few things which you can still learn. From which we came back and can be applied. For example, ad budget. Somebody with a half a million versus $3,000 a month. A dentist with a $3,000 a month budget, it’s a very different game, right? First, dentists are not going to stay with you for more than two months if you don’t deliver good leads within those $6,000. A big company is going to stick around so you have time to play around with it. Second is, when you have a lot of money to spend on ads you get so much data you can optimize very, very quickly. And that we brought to the smaller business. There is a usual way people do it is they convince the client “Hey, let’s start with $1,000 and we’ll show you it works, then you can go to 5,000.” We found out that when we do that it’s going to take four or five months to get enough clicks and enough conversions to optimize. So we go the other way around. We say, “Hey, can you start with 5,000? If your budget is 1,000, totally get it. Within two, three months we’ll just drop it. But we got to start with enough number to have enough data coming in to optimize.” So that we learned from the bigger ones because they had that much budget so we could really learn quickly and optimize it exactly for clients. That applies indirectly. That instead of scaling up you’re going to scale down to what budget they want. But start with a good. Almost always after 30 days we can quickly tell them, “Hey, this is working, this is not working. Don’t sell water heaters it’s too expensive for you. It’s no, no, no. It’s coming out to $350 and your margin is not enough versus focus on Seaver’s. We can find that out quickly if you give us enough budget,” right? And every market is different. I mean, the Seaver versus water heater. If you’re a plumber don’t take it. It applies everywhere. You get the concept. If you give us the money we’ll do it. That is the learning we did bring to the … And we still apply to the smaller businesses. Just because you worked with those budgets, it’s easier to reach out to Facebook, and Meta, and Google for help when they know we are spending so much money with other bigger clients so we just have a little bit more clout to be able to talk to them as an agency.

Landing Pages Boost Conversion for Small Businesses in Paid Ads.

Jeff Tomlin: Avi, one thing I wanted to ask you about was conversion rate optimization. Especially small businesses, it tends to be like the black box that’s difficult for them to unlock. At the end of the day, when you’re putting money into advertising, they just want the phone to ring, and their door to swing, and everyone wants to convert into paying customers. When you look across your clients, what are some things that you think that the typical businesses can do to boost their conversion rate optimization?

Avi Kumar: So conversion rate optimization is a major in e-commerce, of course, I mean, it can make or break bigger businesses, yes. In smaller businesses it comes down to the landing page, in my opinion, the CRO. So the smaller businesses, what they can do is this. The first is, if you are running any ads, please do not send the traffic to your website. Just do not send the traffic to your website. If a marketing agency say, “Oh, yeah, you got a contact us page we’ll send it there,” don’t do it. Because you paid for that click. User will come and browse around and check your whole website, critique things and all, and you … I mean, get distracted and leave. You want a landing page, a squeeze page. Then in the page itself don’t start with … And this is a very common thing. 30 years in business … I started with my uncle … Or my grandfather was in business. You just paid for an ad, somebody clicked, they want Seaver repair. Talk about freaking seavers on the first paragraph right there. Give them that what they’re looking for. You can go down the page. For a few people who will reach the bottom, you can talk about how long you’ve been around. You could add their 30 years in business, one line, that’s fine. By the way, we have so much data on this. This can change conversion from single-digit to double-digit. So it’s like a 10X improvement on paid ads just by getting this right. And it is surprising that … How many even agencies and clients just ignore this basic thing. To me, CRO is majorly do a custom conversion page for a smaller business.

Focus on Implementation & Client Service for Marketing Success.

Jeff Tomlin: You talk a little bit about the science of marketing and the six equations. And another big thing that you focus on too is also client onboarding. So I wanted to touch on both of those things. I thought that you could kick off with the first thing and how you think about that and why it’s important.

Avi Kumar: The science of marketing equations, I build those primarily to work with startup clients. So just want to be clear on this, those are clients who pay half a million or more investment coming in and they want to work with it. I mean, those are listed as equations but I’ll do it as a concepts so it’s easier to remember for people. One is you need strategy, and you need implementation, and you need a great product. If you don’t have a great product and service marketing cannot do anything. And we have learned this again and again that it’s not us as the marketer it’s the product market fit was not there and things are not there. So those three have to be there. So that’s a basic given. And most people assume if they have a product or service that’s why they want to sell it. Let’s assume that they have. In the equation, these three combinations, the implementation and strategy, is I would just weigh everything more towards implementation than strategy. This is an example I use. So if you’re playing soccer, and in soccer you don’t have much strategy and you’re just all implementation which is basically kick the ball. If you kick the ball enough, as long as you know the goal, you might get it one or two times. If you just sat around and strategized you will get zero goals guaranteed, right? So even if you didn’t have a strategy, if you keep kicking your chances go up. So just bias it towards more on implementation because that teaches you and it gives you the feedback for the strategy also whether it’s working or not, right? So that’s the basis. The three questions talk about that. How if any one of them is failing then what will happen? There is a numeric part of the equations. The concept I wanted to build with was, you should know what is your margin before working with us. And many companies found that why do you care? I just tell them no. Where are you sourcing from? China? What is your cost? They say, “Why do you want to know that?” I said, “Otherwise I cannot work with you. I need exact margin.” General concept is, once I know the margin I know maximum acquisition cost you’re willing to spend for that budget or service. And then I’m going to take that margin … If you’re very aggressive I’m going to make sure not to spend more than 80% for a very aggressive growth company. If you’re a more stable company then I’m going to take 30, 40 or 50%. So in the equation I put 80% because this is for growth companies. That’ll allow me enough buffer that there is no point your marketing is just randomly just … So let’s spend the money it’ll happen. We are able to justify. And it’s a little bit self-serving as the agency. Once you’re able to show them that they like the fact that you’re making the money for each dollar. And it’s a true money it’s not ROAS, a higher level thing, it’s actually ROI. Once you start doing that with the margin and then it makes sense, right? So that’s really the summary of those equations that. Don’t spend only a percentage of your margin for each acquisition. And have a strategy and an implementation plan. Bias it towards more of an implementation. Of course, the product and service we cannot control as the marketers, they need to get it right that part. So yeah, that was the equations marketing. I think your other question was onboarding. So onboarding, what we found is that more smaller businesses than larger businesses … Larger businesses, onboarding usually, for us, is more of a showcasing all that can be done. So they’re basically want to be wowed with all the stuff, new stuff you can do, what kind of ads can be done, this can be done. They want to see all that because they have the money they’re just evaluating, right? The smaller businesses, what we found onboarding is, we like to make onboarding very high touch. And for the first month multiple points of touch. Because the biggest complaint from smaller customers was that after we signed up with them we didn’t hear from anybody for two weeks. And then we call nobody answers. For a month or so they don’t even care what the result. They’re saying is, “People get paid, are they talking to us or not?” Because they’re a smaller budget, a lot of agencies, all they were doing was they get it and then they just send an email, “Okay, we” … “Here’s a form fill it.” Our case no, you’ve got to meet us. In fact, we made it a point that for smaller business they got to meet us twice a month we have to meet. If they don’t meet us two months in a row we will not work with them. The reasoning is pretty simple in my mind that if not today, within two, three months I’m going to lose you for sure because you just don’t value what we are doing so you might as well just get out of this now. The team itself who’s working on the marketing, they cannot be motivated if the end client doesn’t care to meet and they just still paying us.

Jeff Tomlin: That’s interesting.

Avi Kumar: So we just don’t want that relationship. It’s the onboarding and then … Especially the first month is very important. But after that also staying in touch and making them feel that hey, we are always available and here to help. We can answer all of your questions if you have any. That’s the part which is, I think, for smaller business very, very important. We are in some ways glad as a company, because there’s competition out there, right, that most agencies ignore that. When I see as a competitor where it said, “Great, we don’t do it” So it helps us retain customers for years basically at that point.

Small Clients with High Touch get Higher Lifetime Value.

Jeff Tomlin: It’s interesting that you say that because I know a lot of companies, because they’re smaller customers, they spend quite a bit less effort on it because it’s not quite as profitable. But then they suffer from unreasonably high churn and it’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Avi Kumar: And every company should draw a line that I don’t want below this, right?

Jeff Tomlin: Yeah.

Avi Kumar: And if they really are worried about that haze, really so small a customer, it’s not going to make me profitable then don’t get them as customers. Our view is you start working with us, you’re a half-a-million dollar plumber … We have $10 million plumbers. We want to get you from half to two to three. By working this way we motivate you, get you … Okay, you want to get more trucks, we’ll do the ads for you to get more technicians. So we kind of look at it, “Hey, we’ll build this.” And those are the ones who stay years, right? Five years, seven years. One of the things I like to calculate is the lifetime value of customers with the ones … What we did with them. Surprisingly, it’s a small pain but became big … Becomes much more higher lifetime value.

Jeff Tomlin: Amazing.

Avi Kumar: Many times.

Avoid Extremes, and Focus on Consistent Marketing Practices.

Jeff Tomlin: Avi, if you had one takeaway for the audience what would you want to leave them with?

Avi Kumar: This is more of a life takeaway but applies to the business too, this concept of middle of the road. I’m not talking spiritual or anything. That when not sure stay in the middle. It doesn’t mean you should not be driven. When we hear extremes and we see extremes we get attracted to those and we do those. And we think oh, it’s going to certainly solve my problem. Usually extremes do not solve problems. So it’s the middle which solves the problem. So if there is any marketing practice or solve something just do it for a long time in the middle and then you will know the direction you need to go. Just start going upwards or downwards. Stay more in the middle. I found that a business takeaway. Again, I am not saying is don’t be driven, don’t have goals, and everything. Be steadfast in what you’re trying to do. But don’t try to take the extreme path because you’ve got to figure out where things are going. And extremes are usually … There are things which don’t work on extremes.

Jeff Tomlin: Love it. Avi Kumar, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the Conquer Local Podcast. I want to thank you for taking time out of your really busy day to join us and have a chat with us here. If people wanted to reach out to you and continue the conversation how do they connect with you?

Avi Kumar: Thank you, Jeff, for having me here. And to connect with me easiest is email, Avi, A-V-I at KUWARE, K-U-W-A-R-E.com. Of course, if you want to know more go to the website and you can check out and sign up with the right person. But if you want to talk to me directly this email will do.

Jeff Tomlin: Avi, it’s been an absolute pleasure. I wish you the best.

Avi Kumar: Thank you, Jeff, thank you.


Jeff Tomlin: A lot of depth of knowledge working with the likes of Apple, Intel, and Motorola. Here’s a few takeaways from our discussion with Avi. 

Focus on Organic SEO, GMB and Website. Avi said to build a strong foundation with a well-optimized Google My Business profile and basic website SEO. Don’t get caught up in fancy tactics – focus on clear messaging and user experience.

The second takeaway is Data-Driven Paid Ads with a Budget Focus. For paid advertising, Avi suggests a Google-Meta combo for most businesses. Track your conversion rates and cost per lead to optimize campaigns and maximize return on investment. Start small, gather data, and scale strategically.

If you’ve enjoyed Avi Kumar’s episode discussing data-driven marketing strategies for local businesses, keep the conversation going and revisit some of our older episodes from the archives: Check out Episode 648: Building a Successful Agency and Establishing Long-Term Client Partnerships with David Reske or Episode  718: Escape Founder-Led Sales: How Specialization Can Help Your Agency Grow with Corey Quinn.

Until next time, I’m Jeff Tomlin. Get out there and be awesome!