Roger Wakefield’s Mission: Empower Tradespeople To Own Their Own Marketing

As someone whose job it is to train the students into being global citizens, we don’t talk nearly as much about who’s training folks in the trades.

And that person is Roger Wakefield.

Roger Wakefield has over 600,000 YouTube subscribers and over a million followers on 5 separate platforms. This makes him the largest plumbing YouTube channel in the world.

His growing influence has landed him spots on CNN and with television celebrities like Dr. Phil and others.

All with a mission of educating tradespeople and local service companies.

Roger Wakefield on Dr. Phil

As the founder of Elite Student Coach, a program where we help teens build the life skills they need to get into the college of their dreams, I was curious how Roger trains people going into the trades.

His content focuses on teaching tradespeople, mostly plumbers, skills from his 4 decades of experience in the field.

And after spending 6 years posting 3 times a week, every week, his rise has been astronomical.

But if you ever ask him what he does, he’ll probably tell you “I’m just a plumber”.

And in a way he’s right – Roger is a Dallas native who’s been a plumber since 1980 with 44 years of experience in the trades.

Roger Started Posting on YouTube Because He Needed the Phone to Ring

His venture into YouTube was born out of necessity and frustration, not to gain clout and become popular online.

Over the course of months spending $47,000 on marketing companies that failed to deliver results and actually halting the calls to his business—he took matters into his own hands.

In his own words, “I essentially paid $47,000 to stop our phones from ringing”.

After attending a digital marketing conference and seeing a packed room on YouTube marketing, he knew he had to give it a shot.

Upon getting back to Dallas he drew up a game plan and by the time Monday rolled around, Roger was ready to completely overhaul his company’s approach to marketing.

“Monday morning when I walked in the office, I called everybody else together and said, guess what? We’re changing the way we do marketing and we’re changing right now. We’re going to start doing YouTube and I think they thought I was crazy.” he said.

Roger blames bad digital marketing agencies for burning a hole in his pocket.

Roger Wakefield and Dennis Yu Speaking at DigiMarcon

Roger’s frustrations were compounded by the agencies’ recommendations that seemed disconnected from his business needs.

For example, he was advised to engage in trends irrelevant to his industry, such as making posts related to National Pizza Day.

With Roger commenting, “And I’m like, what’s national pizza day got to do with plumbing?”.

The lack of interest to even bother to know Roger’s goal frustrated him – all while continuously billing $3k/month or higher for their services.

Saying, “Every time you go to a marketing agency, they all tell you, you have junk. We need to completely rebuild it and then you pay them to rebuild it. And then they come back and say, Oh, but you didn’t pay us to SEO it, just rebuild it. So now we need to SEO it too. And that’s this much more.”

This practice of upselling without delivering on initial promises contributed to his mistrust and dissatisfaction with digital marketing agencies.

And when they mess up – that impacts lead flow into the business, meaning that holding the agency accountable was worth more hassle than ever.

The switch to YouTube marketing was all about owning his own marketing and escaping the grip of agencies who operate off shaky standards.

It’s also for this reason why Roger helped co-found, to shine a spotlight on agencies doing poor work and helping other local service businesses audit their marketers.

How Does Roger Plan on Empowering Local Service Agencies?

Roger Wakefield With His Tools

The first step is educational training.

Recognizing the skills gap and the sometimes undervalued perception of trade jobs, Roger aims to advocate for better trade education and appreciation.

This involves visiting trade schools, technical colleges, and even high schools to speak about the value and opportunities within the trades, encouraging more people to consider these viable and lucrative career paths.

“I want to walk into trade schools, unions, technical colleges, high schools that have shop classes, whatever it is, and walk in and talk to people and tell them why the trades are amazing.”, say’s Roger.

This extends to public speaking – not only for tradespeople, but for other digital marketers and local service businesses all around the country.

In the last few months alone, Roger has spoken at over a dozen events flying to speak at conferences and sharing his story.

After all, Roger’s story of being scammed for $47,000 is a compelling one – and unfortunately, all-too relatable for local service companies operating all around the country.

Another step is building resources and a community to help other local service businesses with their marketing.

Most local service businesses do good work but are unable to scale due to not understanding digital marketing.

Continuing to put out educational content means sharing helpful information which these businesses can use for their own marketing.

What’s Roger’s 3 best pieces of advice?

Towards the end of our interview I asked Roger his 3 best pieces of advice to people who aren’t in his ecosystem yet.

I wanted to know any advice he had for students or entrepreneurs who want to reach his same level.

These were his 3 best pieces of advice:

1.) Reach Out and Collaborate

“Reach out. Number one. I’ll talk with all kinds of people. I think that we all can learn and help each other.”

Roger emphasizes the importance of communication and learning from others.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

His advice to reach out and talk with various people highlights his belief in the power of collaboration and shared knowledge, which can lead to mutual growth and opportunities.

2.) Don’t Be Afraid to Take Chances

“Don’t be afraid to ask anybody for anything. Jim says, ask, shut the book right there, Wayne Gretzky says you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

Here, Roger underscores the necessity of being proactive and taking risks.

Making the decision to move his marketing efforts to YouTube was a huge risk that paid off.

With local service businesses in particular, you’re often 1 wrong move from losing all of your inbound leads, which makes it even more important to break the mold.

3.) Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Money

“Don’t be afraid to make money. My parents were workers. We didn’t have money. They didn’t know how to teach us about money. You can make whatever you want to make. And you can do whatever you want with it.”

Roger discusses the importance of not shying away from the pursuit of financial success.

He reflects on his background where there was a lack of financial education and encourages others to boldly seek financial success, using it as a tool to achieve personal and community goals.

These pieces of advice encapsulate Roger’s approach to life and business—encouraging open communication, seizing opportunities, and embracing the potential to achieve financial success.

They serve as guiding principles for anyone looking to make a significant impact in their professional and personal lives, particularly those in the trades.

In short – if you’re a small local service business you should embrace change, take risks, and own your own marketing.

Higher Education Isn’t The Only Path Forward

My conversation with Roger shows that success isn’t based on a fancy degree at an Ivy League school.

It’s based on grit, perseverance, and an ability to overcome obstacles.

At Elite Student Coach, we strive to do the same for students around the world.

What matters is building global citizens capable of thriving in the world beyond just getting good grades and ticking boxes.

Roger, despite growing up in a working-class household, was able to do just that and accomplish all of this in less than 6 years of hard work.

Students can learn a thing or two from Roger and his success.