Locella – Frank Kern, Jordan Belfort – What Happened Here?

Did the marketing brilliance of Frank Kern and the sales mastery of Jordan Belfort strike out with their joint venture Locella.com?

One of the best parts of living in San Diego other than the weather which goes without saying is the HUGE and very viable Internet marketing community that thrives in the Southern California climate. For those of you who are not familiar with the ranks of the Internet marketing elite in San Diego we have Mike Koenig (personal hero) from Traffic Geyser and his new social media marketing machine , Frank Kern, Trey Smith, and not sure where Jason Moffatt is these days but San Diego was his home. These and others understand that the San Diego lifestyle works perfectly for our Internet marketing business – the benefit of living close to these guys is the ability to go to the events and to network with other people who are are at the top of their game….that was a long ramble but anyways living in SD also gave me the opportunity to walk by the Locella building on my way to the bank.

Full disclosure here – I’ve been a big fan of Frank Kern for a number of years I went through his Mass Control, Mass Control 2.0, and List Control with my Four Hour Work Week Meetup group. My girlfriend thinks that given the chance I would name my first born child male or female to – “Frank Kern”.

At the List Control event I was introduced to Jordan Belford, the “Wolf of Wall Street”. This guy was absolutely amazing his presentation style, commanded the stage and his ability to convince people to move in a certain direction really inspired me. Two words – absolutely brilliant. Jeff and I have changed our business because of what we have learned from him.  Authentic excellence.

Needless to say there was an opportunity to sign up for coaching with Belfort and I snapped that up in a heartbeat and I subsequently attended live event in Los Angeles. But I digress, one of the things that I learned at List Control was that Jordan, Frank and Trey were forming a local Internet marketing company Locella.

What a blow to the kidneys that was…to hear that the top guys in the Internet marketing space were now going to be competing with me directly, ouch. I checked out their website and through some competitive intelligence discovered that they were going to be providing Pay-Per-Click management and basic SEO to plumbers and auto repair body shops.

I even called the office and got pitched on their program. Initially I panicked about having an Internet g-ds like Frank Kern and sales guru Jordan Belford not only in my physical backyard but also directly compete with me my industry. Heck I was so scared of Locella that I ran my own SEO campaign to outrank locella for the words “locella internet marketing” and I when I last checked I was number two right below their BBB listing. No joke I was scared of what was to come.

Frank Kern is a role model for me and THE (I mean THE reason that I am in Internet maketing today) and when he entered into my space and was going to be competing directly against the local business I asked myself if it was time to reconsider my approach that had been working so well for local business marketing? (thank you Mike Koenig for that little bid of inspiration) Was it time to move onto something less competitive? Well that though lasted all of 30 seconds

Do you know what it is like to see legends enter into your niche with more firepower and brainpower – it is the stuff of nightmares. But the reality is that past success does not ensure future success…

The Locella offices are just down the street from my bank so I started to walk by their offices and do some strategic investigations which led to some online research and I figured out what I needed to do to get pitched by one of their salespeople and using what I learned from NLP and Jordan I deconstructed the sales pitch “they were using the straight-line” in an effort to figure out precisely what they were offering. I never got to the quote stage but from what I heard and the 10 page sales letter that I read some things just did not add up for me.

At the core it seemed like installing a

  1. wordpress website for a client,
  2. with a tracking phone number and
  3. point some PPC traffic to the site for lead generation.

Seems pretty simple but I think that their price point was about $800 and I am not quite sure how much was going to the PPC budget and how much was directed towards the company but I figured that at the price of those clicks there was going to be fulfillment problem – someone was going to get screwed here. There did not seem to be enough margin to create a sustainable business and way to much client interactions for Frank and Trey to worry about. I think there was a dream of future valuations for the business – but honestly I did not see why it was worth their and Jordan’s time.

My assumption was that Jordan trained the team and that Frank and Trey were the Internet lead gen brains behind the operation. This part is speculation but I figured that they might have had the service fulfilled with a national brand like ReachLocal but at 30% of the PPC spend going to ReachLocal there was really no margin for Locella to be in the business and for the CLIENTS TO GET WHAT THEY WERE PAYING FOR. Was there integrity in this model to begin with? Sure you have a great sales engine but who the heck was going to fulfill it…

So when my business partner Jeff and I did the math on what it would take to appropriately manage somebody’s PPC spend and knowing how much PPC costs in the plumbing space is on a PPC basis – it seems to us that either they were charging too little for the service, they were not delivering on what they promised or they were doing some other lead generation techniques other than just pure PPC because there is NO way to get a high volume of PPC leads for a plumber and make enough profit by charging $800-$1700 a month all inclusive for PPC bid management and Internet marketing….even with a 30% conversion rate on clicks to calls – just no way!

So Jeff and I went on our merry way and just assumed that we had a well financed competitor with more sales peoples, and more cache then we would ever have and we got down to minding our own business.

Fast forward 5 months and a few weeks ago I went to La Jolla and walked by the Locella offices to see how they had grown and to my surprise they had moved out! I mean this place was stripped bare…I then went to locella.com and instead of a full blown website it was just their logo and a contact us telephone number. Called the number and it looks like the businesses shut down completely – it was a typical “please leave a message and we will call you right back” message but something just did not feel right.

I am not quite sure what’s happening but I’ve also noticed that Frank has picked up his pace he is offering consulting services at FrankKernSuccess.com and it looks like Jordan is in South Africa and Australia continuing to do what they’re doing so I am not sure what is going on.

I sent Jordan an email on facebook asking about Locella but from the outside it looks like the Jordan Belfort – Frank Kern – Trey Smith Internet marketing machine known as Locella has crumbled to the ground.

The major lesson that I learned here is trust your gut and worry about keeping your clients happy and not spending time copying your competitors – because they don’t always get it right.