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Redefining Business Models in a Post-Penguin World29:52 with Greg Boser
For both agencies and in-house teams, Greg covers how to re-tool your operation to thrive and grow in Google's new world. Includes killing the "yes man" mentality, managing expectations, and performance-based models.
Before I get started I want to say 0:00 the SEO rock star thing was self-deprecating humor 0:01 because 24 years ago my goal in life— 0:04 I moved to LA and played in big hair bands on the Hollywood Sunset Strip, 0:06 and I met and married my groupie. 0:11 Then I became an Internet geek 0:13 because that didn't really pan out 0:16 because this Kurt Cobain guy—in the city of Seattle— 0:18 I was a keyboard player. 0:21 When he showed up—all the sudden— 0:22 there was no work for heavy metal, hard rock keyboard players. 0:25 So I had to retire and find a new thing. 0:28 I found the Internet. 0:30 So we started the SEO rock star thing. 0:31 It was all about making fun of myself because it's so not being a rock star. 0:33 But waiting there to comp up here, 0:37 it felt like being back stage at the Roxy— 0:40 like starting to go on stage and hit it. 0:46 But I want to thank Rand for letting me come here and do this. 0:49 When I talked to Rand in SMX, 0:53 and I asked him about—he asked me if I'd come do this. 0:54 And I looked at all the speakers that were here, and I was just like—man— 0:58 there's so many great tactical stuff that's going to be going on here. 1:02 So how about if I go and talk about what I've been spending the last 2 years on 1:06 and come and basically spill my guts about all the mistakes that we've made 1:14 since our company came into existence 2 years ago 1:18 and talk about how to actually implement models to support all this— 1:22 like how do you go off and do all that kind of stuff? 1:26 So I will start with the official AboutBlueGlass page 1:29 that my marketing team does. 1:36 And that's their thing. 1:39 We're a full-service digital agency. 1:40 That's what we aspire to be. 1:42 But me personally, I spent 14 years as a solo independent consultant 1:43 in the boutique kind of space. 1:49 Great lifestyle. 1:53 Loved it. 1:55 Helped me be around to coach my kids' sports teams—all that kind of stuff. 1:56 So I was a hired gun that would go around and develop organic strategy, 2:01 primarily SEO. 2:04 So I actually did start doing SEO before it had a name— 2:05 hanging out on iSearch and these little email lists because there were no blogs 2:08 or forums or any of that. 2:11 A guy like Marshall Simmons, who is in here. 2:13 He is as old as me. 2:15 So I did that for 14 years and got to the point where really in this business 2:17 what is difficult to me is that there's this huge body of really talented 2:23 boutique size shops that do really quality work. 2:29 Then up here—way up here— 2:32 these big, bloated, mediocre agencies that suck. 2:34 And there's a big gap there, 2:39 and you hit that wall and it's like— 2:40 so how do you get past that—how do you get— 2:42 and we would sit there and feed off the crumbs from these agencies— 2:45 I'm not going to say because they did terrible work. 2:48 People would circle back, hire guys like us, and we all did a great job. 2:50 There's a lot of those size—and I'm very passionate about that space. 2:54 So what ended up happening was a bunch of guys got together 2:57 and decided to mash up— 3:03 this is June of 2010—mash up a bunch of boutiques and become 3:06 like a really kick-ass agency that does really good work— 3:10 like a kind of overnight thing. 3:12 So I—they talked me—I was Oktoberfest in Munich in September, 3:16 and they talked me into merging with them and coming on-board 3:19 after they mashed up in June to run the search division. 3:22 I'm like—"Ah, that's great! I can build this new big thing. That's cool." 3:25 So I went from there—there we go—let me go back because I missed a slide. 3:29 So I started out running the search division. 3:38 I came in there. 3:40 I was doing that. 3:40 That was cool—whatever—SEO—that's my thing. 3:41 Then we ran into issues, 3:44 and I ended up moving onto the President of Products and Services 3:45 because all these problems I'm going to talk to you about happened, 3:48 and we had to actually fix them. 3:51 I somehow volunteered, 3:53 and my partner said, "Okay. Cool." 3:55 I'm going to go an try to re-tool this 3:57 and fix all the mistakes and things we didn't think about 3:58 so we can actually become what we want to be." 4:01 So then from that point, 4:04 I dropped the Products and Services in January. 4:09 And first—this is actually true because 4:12 signing up for PubCon speaker registration form, 4:14 and you've got to know Brett Tabke to really appreciate this. 4:17 But I got my badge, and it said "President of—and it was cut off 4:20 because he had a character limit, and it was ridiculous. 4:25 But the other thing, too—moving to just the President— 4:29 I get to be a role with VP and work with a guy named Loren Baker, 4:34 who really is that much bigger than me—for those guys that know him. 4:37 We call him the VP of Excitement. 4:41 He's our Biz Dev guy. 4:43 But I really wanted to work with Loren because he gets the client relationship 4:44 and all the stuff that goes into building this and just is great at that stuff. 4:48 So I'm like, "Let's you and I go and start preaching this new message." 4:54 "Let's go out and start changing the conversation with these big brands." 4:59 So now to the Panda and Penguin thing. 5:03 So real quickly I'm going to recap, 5:06 and this is a little sarcastic probably— 5:07 my interpretation of why we're spending so much time talking about zoo animals. 5:09 Here's kind of what happened. 5:13 Prior to June of—they talked about Caffeine. 5:20 They put up a beta thing. 5:22 They ran through it—great, great, great. 5:23 It's all cool. 5:25 We're going to expand and do all this awesome stuff—this new infrastructure. 5:26 It's really cool. 5:29 So they released it in June. 5:31 The size of their index explodes—100x because now they're spidering 5:33 stuff in real time and all that kind of stuff. 5:39 Never in that time period—I don't think— 5:41 did they think about that—hey— 5:43 maybe more spam is going to get into the index when we do this. 5:44 They had a lot of cool automated filtering stuff—keyword— 5:47 that would actually make you not rank for bad anchor text 5:52 and then allow you to come back when you fixed it 5:55 without having to grovel and file a reconsideration. 5:57 But it wasn't keeping up. 6:00 A ton—everybody started writing articles in the major press saying how bad 6:03 Google sucks, and their quality has gone downhill. 6:09 And then on top of that in October of 2010, 6:14 they threw out this ridiculous localization 6:17 where they took all the places stuff and made 17 listings on it— 6:20 put that big block of crap that nobody clicked on. 6:24 So it was just chaotic mess and the results were not good. 6:27 Then by February, we've moved to or retreating to iterative filtering, 6:30 which is a nice way to say hand jobs— 6:37 in the sense that well now we have all this cool infrastructure. 6:41 We can do all this stuff in real time. 6:45 But the results aren't that great, 6:47 so every 6 weeks we've got to go run a filter to clean it up. 6:49 It seems counterproductive and stepping backwards to me. 6:53 But that's where they're at because their 6:55 automated tools can't keep up with what they can call an index. 6:59 And then from there a year later, we have a little behavioral correction. 7:02 And make no mistake, 7:08 Panda is not about getting rid of links that were helping you. 7:10 It's about changing your behavior. 7:14 And that is really—I will tell you why because from that standpoint— 7:17 now we have—everyone's skeletons are out of the closet. 7:21 I don't care who you are in SEO, everybody's got a skeleton. 7:26 So now you're having to go out and try to clean up links that you did through 7:29 EzineArticles or Awesome Directory or ArticleSubmission.com— 7:32 whatever—from 2007, 7:37 and you've got to go clean 65-70 percent of that before Google is going 7:39 to allow you to get back in. 7:43 But once you get back in, you rank right where you did before. 7:46 So it's not like the links are really counting, I don't think. 7:48 I think they had that figured out. 7:50 It's more about them sending a message 7:52 to all of us that we really want you to change your behavior. 7:54 So that creates a situation where we've got all this chaos. 7:58 It's getting more and more difficult, and it's harder to do. 8:02 So growing your company and maintaining quality and 8:07 not becoming that big, bloated, mediocre agency that sucks is very difficult. 8:11 So that's our goal. 8:16 This is what we're trying to do during all this chaos that's going on. 8:19 And in the course of that we did so much stuff wrong or we overlooked. 8:24 So we just really thought you could bang up 5 companies and because we were 8:29 all good at what we did individually 8:33 that it would be extra more awesome if we were all mashed together. 8:34 So I'm going to walk through a lot of the issues that we ran 8:37 and give you some idea of some of the stuff that we did to overcome them 8:41 because I can say right now that we have fixed most of them. 8:44 We are always working to be better, but we're going to survive. 8:47 Right? 8:51 We're a real company now. 8:52 So that's a good thing. 8:53 Issue #1. 8:56 Silent Internet structures. 8:58 You really can't build integrative services if you're working in silos. 9:00 John's talk was about that, 9:04 and him and I have talked about that personally. 9:06 But I can't stress this one enough. 9:09 When I came into Blue—and this is a true story. 9:11 I came in. I'm running a search. 9:13 I'm on a call with a client, 9:14 and I look at this thing they did. 9:16 I'm like, "Who the hell told you to do that?" 9:18 "That's literally the stupidest thing I've ever seen." 9:20 "Oh, your social media division said to do that." 9:22 Really? 9:26 That's when I raised my hand and said, 9:27 "Could I have the job of trying to re-tool this?" 9:29 That's just unacceptable. 9:31 But when we all came together— 9:33 the analogy I always use— 9:37 we were like the food court at the mall. 9:38 We were all under one roof. 9:40 But because we tried to just start business right away and 9:41 not really have any down time, 9:45 we were locked into these little silos, 9:47 and each partner was running one silo 9:49 and talking to clients and doing that kind of stuff. 9:51 So what we did is we tore down the silos completely. 9:53 We ditched channel specific silos in favor of a structure based on client lifecycle. 10:02 So what I mean by that is, 10:05 especially when you're a small shop, 10:07 you do all 3. 10:09 But there's really 3 key phases in this position. 10:09 There's strategy development, which is ideation, research, auditing, 10:12 collecting your data, building the client dossiers— 10:17 all the stuff you've got to do to build a plan. 10:20 Then the second phase of that is production. 10:22 You've go to go out and build shit. 10:24 I don't care if it's a web page, an article, an app— 10:26 it doesn't really matter what you're building. 10:29 You've got to build stuff. 10:31 Then the final thing is promotion. 10:34 You've got to go out and get people to see it. 10:36 So my thing was if you're going to have silos or areas of responsibility, 10:38 it makes more sense to me to set it up based on that flow because 10:45 you can't—at the larger level—you can't do everything. 10:48 You can't have somebody who's really good at managing production 10:52 spending their time trying to do the other 10:56 components because you just don't get enough focus. 10:58 So you have to be more focused. 11:01 So that's basically the flow of how we set things up so we don't have a 11:03 search and a PPC team. 11:07 We have a strategy team. 11:09 There's people in there that have expertise in all those areas, 11:10 and they're in charge collectively of putting together the plan. 11:14 We also killed the individual budgeting. 11:19 All this stuff I'm saying also applies to the client in the in-house thing. 11:21 That's the really funny thing about all this 11:25 is that the stuff that we struggle with is exactly what the in-house companies 11:27 that want to hire us struggle with. 11:31 We run into this one on both sides of the fence all the time. 11:34 The client comes in. 11:37 They're a search client. 11:37 That's great. 11:38 They've got a budget—you're doing stuff. 11:39 But what a client needs changes over that lifecycle. 11:41 A lot of consulting and brain power stuff in the beginning. 11:45 Then you move into that production phase. 11:48 So in reality, budget should be able to ebb and flow through that process. 11:50 It can't really happen if your own 11:54 company is fighting internally over whose budget that is 11:56 or if you're the in-house—if your company is fighting over who doesn't want to 11:59 take the hit on their P and L to do this really cool stuff. 12:03 We've had really big name clients—I'm not going to say who— 12:07 because I was told not to do that— 12:10 who basically said, "Hey, that's a great plan." 12:12 "But we can't do this part because that's social media." 12:14 Right? 12:16 So we're trying to build this integrated, attack-all things. 12:17 But they can't hire us because that's a different budget. 12:19 So we killed that. 12:22 You're a client—one budget— 12:24 I don't care where you spend it in our company. 12:24 If you spend it with us, I'm a happy guy. 12:26 Greater level of top down transparency. 12:30 What happens a lot in the process— 12:32 when you're a little shop, 12:34 you have your hands as the rainmaker—whoever. 12:35 You're in every part of the process. 12:38 When you get a little bigger, you have to hand stuff off. 12:40 So you get in a situation, 12:43 and it's really like that game where—you know— 12:44 you whisper in somebody's ear. 12:46 Then they turn around and say it, 12:47 and as it trans—stuff gets lost. 12:49 It all gets dropped. 12:51 So we really started working harder from the time of Biz Dev— 12:53 a new client—is bringing the whole team in from the very beginning. 12:56 Not just like—hey—you need to go do this. 13:00 So they learn everything about— 13:01 what the guy hates—what he likes— 13:03 what he they want to do with the brand—all that stuff. 13:06 So they're thinking about that as they're doing their part of it later down the road. 13:09 So that gave us an open ideation— 13:14 meaning that we really do have group company things 13:19 where anybody can come in and, after they've heard this data, 13:21 they can contribute ideas. 13:23 They can contribute and participate. 13:25 That doesn't mean they own that process. 13:27 We have people that are dedicated to owning the process. 13:29 But if the janitor has a great idea, I want to hear it. 13:32 That's helped us do a lot of stuff. 13:35 Better agility to address all marketing goals for the client. 13:40 Higher level of agility overall. 13:44 Most importantly, better ideas. 13:47 So that was a huge component, 13:50 and happier employees because they're learning more and now they can 13:51 aspire to move and grow and do different stuff. 13:57 Issue #2. 14:00 God, I have a lot of issues. 14:02 Product ambiguity. 14:04 Rita did a whiteboard Friday a while back on this topic. 14:05 This one is really important. 14:08 When we came in, we were doing a lot of vendor work. 14:10 We were building links for people— 14:12 more traditional style stuff we don't do anymore—don't do it. 14:13 But we had a lot of people lining up in business. 14:16 In that scenario—but on the front end, 14:19 we're a consultancy and a strategy company—in my view. 14:21 So we're doing both, 14:25 and really what happens is you've got to pick one or the other—I think— 14:27 because at the end of the day—like it or not—the people that are hiring 14:31 you as a vendor to go build those links or whatever, 14:35 they're going to hold you accountable for the outcome regardless. 14:39 Right? 14:41 So we'd send them position reports. 14:42 Like we're implying subliminally that we are your SEO. 14:44 We're supporting the idea that SEO and link building are synonymous. 14:47 They are not. 14:51 You want to hold me accountable, I need to have control of the whole thing, 14:52 and I'm more than willing to do that. 14:56 So we killed that. 14:57 As soon as I took over, 14:59 I started cutting stuff and cutting revenue—good revenue. 15:01 My partners were freaking out, and I'm like—trust me. 15:05 We've got to get rid of this stuff. 15:07 So what we did in that regard—we fired that. 15:12 We don't do third-party vendor services anymore—for the most part. 15:14 This is the key one. 15:20 We don't sell articles and infographics. 15:21 We sell content marketing strategy. 15:24 You don't sell and audit. 15:26 You sell strategy. 15:27 You sell a plan. 15:28 Going in and telling a client what's broken is easy. 15:29 Going in and telling a client and building 15:33 them a road map is the most difficult thing. 15:35 There's far more value in strategy than there is in a dollar price 15:37 for an article or an infographic. 15:40 We're not a vendor. 15:41 We're a strategic transparent partner. 15:44 We've got a lot of larger agencies— 15:45 the company behind the curtain—who are basically abusive. 15:47 There's no value in that to us—helping them look good 15:51 and dealing with their crap basically. 15:54 So I fired a lot of those too. 15:57 We needed to be a partner. 15:58 So we got—we relieved our production unit immensely because now 16:02 they're only building content for people that hire us for our brain power. 16:06 And we made content production profitable. 16:12 This is one of the hardest things in the world to do—I have found in all this. 16:14 So issue #3. 16:18 God, I've got more and more issues. 16:19 Bad pricing models. 16:21 We come in, and everybody had a different way to do it, 16:24 and we're kind of all over the map. 16:26 When I really started dissecting it—it's like—the margins on right, 16:29 and the piece of content are different than consulting, 16:32 and you can't lump them all together. 16:34 We need to break them out and do that kind of stuff. 16:36 So some of the stuff we did there is 16:38 we grouped all services based on that lifestyle thing. 16:41 I don't care what we do. 16:44 It falls in one of those categories— 16:44 consulting, training—that's all strategy, right? 16:46 So we can tag it and bill it and track it separately. 16:50 That allowed us to really track the cost through each group 16:53 and really to find—and finding—it was like— 16:56 wow, yeah, they're paying us a lot of money. 16:58 We're losing our ass on this. 16:59 Like we don't make money. 17:01 We're bleeding. 17:02 And made value based adjustments to bundle prices. 17:04 This happens a lot. 17:08 A company does an infographic, 17:09 and then they'll bundle like— 17:11 we'll go out and promote it for you—social promotion. 17:12 So let's say you charge $1,500 for the infographic and $1,000 for the promotion— 17:14 $2,500 total. 17:21 You go out—the promotion doesn't come out that great, 17:22 and you're like, "Whoa!" 17:24 Then the client looks at it and goes, 17:26 "Forty percent of what I paid went for this promotion." 17:28 The promotion sucks—they're not happy. 17:30 If you raise the price of the infographic 17:32 to $2,000 and drop the promotion down to 500 bucks— 17:34 they love you because you've changed the perception of where the value is, 17:36 and the value is in the quality of the content that you produced 17:40 because that's your stronger point that the promotion part. 17:42 Performance based models and guarantees. 17:47 I used performance based stuff as a boutique forever. 17:49 I lost my ass on a lot of deals. 17:52 I did stuff, and I just kept working at it. 17:53 The idea is if I'm going to go out and promote your content, 17:58 I want to be paid by how successful I am. 18:01 So we build metrics that we could actually pitch to clients that they understand, 18:02 and if we get to the end and I don't hit those metrics, 18:05 I'll continue and do more for you for free until I hit them. 18:07 Now all the sudden it's a much easier sale to the guys that were out going out 18:10 buying links at 150 bucks a piece. 18:13 A lot of redundancy going through that process identified. 18:15 Yeah, I'm going to blaze through these because I'm getting low on time. 18:21 Improve client perception. 18:24 Increase margins—all that kind of stuff. 18:26 But here's the most important one. 18:28 It creates an environment where experimentation failure is okay. 18:31 I'm a failure learner. 18:35 That's how I do things. 18:38 That's why I took this—I just jump in, blaze, fail— 18:39 learn what I failed at, reiterate—just keeping going through that process. 18:41 You have to have a situation and margins that allow you to be creative 18:46 and do stuff for a client that fails. 18:50 That's what that guarantee thing is. 18:51 So if I know that I can go do the easy thing and get them the links 18:54 or whatever our goal is— 18:56 I also want to incorporate stuff in there. 18:58 I make our teams do that— 19:00 is to go out and come up with new ideas 19:04 and let's test them. 19:05 I don't care if they fail. 19:06 You learn from that. 19:07 So that's the best thing 19:08 From the client side of the thing, 19:10 those performance models allow them to sell those ideas easier internally. 19:13 Because you can say, 19:18 "Hey, they're going to stick with this and get us what we want." 19:18 "But we want to go try this." 19:21 So it allows them to be a little more creative and give them a little less risk. 19:22 Issue #4. 19:26 Poor client selection. 19:29 This is the best one. 19:30 A lot of people want to hire us, 19:32 and you want to take all the work that didn't really work out 19:35 because not everybody's a fit. 19:37 This is a lot more work. 19:38 It's far more of a partnership. 19:39 It's not a commodity driven thing where 19:41 you just go out and order links or you order an audit. 19:43 You as the client actually have to work and engage in this. 19:45 At the end of the day, you as a company need wins. 19:49 I don't care if you love me and you write me a check every month. 19:53 At the end of the day, I can't grow my company if I don't do great things for you. 19:55 So high probability selling. 19:58 You should go Google that. 20:02 It's a little book that I read many years ago by a guy named Jacques Werth, 20:03 and it will change— 20:06 it's a 9 dollar download. 20:07 It will change your whole idea 20:08 of what selling is about and how you should approach it. 20:11 My approach is it's all about efficiently 20:14 getting through the people that aren't a fit 20:16 so you can find the ones who do and latching onto those. 20:18 It's not about selling snow to an eskimo. 20:20 Rejected the traditional RFP model. 20:22 Just say no. 20:26 RFPs are the most abusive thing. 20:28 They want you for free of charge 20:30 to build them a complete strategy, 20:31 and they're asking the wrong questions. 20:33 So we don't participate in that. 20:35 I reply back and say, "Hey, here's how we work." 20:36 But that's beyond the scope of— 20:39 we just don't do that kind of stuff for free. 20:41 And we always focus on trying to change that conversation with that client. 20:44 And here's the biggest one— 20:49 learn to say no to the abusive "dangling carrot" clients. 20:50 Some of you who are in this audience— 20:53 you know you who are. 20:54 You're the big brands that let people put logos on your site, 20:56 and you show up and say, "Yeah. We want you to do this project." 20:59 "We want you to work under this contract"— 21:00 that is so one-sided that it should be evil and against the law. 21:03 We want to—"if you do a good job, we're going— 21:07 big things and give you all this extra work." 21:10 It's bullshit. 21:13 It never happens. 21:14 Those companies do that intentionally to get great work at a cheap price. 21:15 That's why there's 2 or 3 companies— 21:20 the logo is on every one of our sites. 21:21 So we fired those guys—basically. 21:24 So I'm going to blaze through these 21:29 a little quicker because I'm running out of time. 21:30 But clients learn to like you a lot quicker. 21:32 Average engagement length goes up. 21:34 Being selective and learning to say no and not being the yes men is the big deal. 21:36 I'm never going to get through all 9 of these. 21:41 I'll tell you that right now. 21:43 Bad contract structures. 21:44 It's just—we couldn't work with the way we did it. 21:46 So we put in SLAs. 21:49 We guarantee you we would get stuff done at a certain time. 21:50 But we also put in client obligations/responsibilities. 21:53 Developing content requires a lot of input from the client. 21:56 You need to approve— 21:59 content has got to go through lawyers and all that kind of stuff. 22:00 So we would say if you do your half of it on time, 22:03 we will guarantee that we'll do X amount. 22:06 If we get to the end of the contract and 22:08 we haven't hit our numbers because of you, then we don't owe you the money. 22:09 Subscription models. 22:13 We put them on—you charge a flat rate, 22:16 we'll build X amount of content for you every month. 22:18 But if you drag and take your time, 22:20 you pay us the same amount. 22:22 So you're going to pay twice as much for the content you were slow on. 22:23 One minute—really? 22:25 Outdated content—I'm going to blaze, 22:27 and this will be online I'm sure. 22:31 All right. 22:35 I really thought—there's no way I can— 22:37 Quality consistency. 22:39 That's the hardest things with vendors— 22:42 is you can't the quality always the same when you try to ramp it up and scale it. 22:43 What we did is went out and acquired 22:47 a little company called Voltier Digital that were really good at it. 22:49 They happened to be in Florida close to us. 22:51 They were a great fit. 22:53 We merged them a lot easier than we merged ourselves 22:53 because we learned a lot. 22:55 We hired a lot of in-house writers, 22:57 and we also sought out new writers. 22:59 We also applied that subscription model to vendors. 23:03 Totally out of time. 23:08 Let me see here. 23:10 I'm going to skip this one. 23:11 Process documentation. 23:12 You need to write it down. 23:13 It's very hard to teach stuff that's in your head. 23:14 I struggled with that completely. 23:16 And here we go. 23:18 So I'm—finding the right people— 23:21 I want to get to just the very last one. 23:23 We need a really fast forward button on this. 23:27 Here's practicing what we preach. 23:31 I'm going to finish with this because when you're a local shop 23:33 and you're doing your own blogging and all that kind of stuff, 23:35 and you're doing your own content marketing—it's great. 23:37 When you do the mash up thing 23:39 and you each are trying to run the channels, 23:41 it becomes much more difficult, 23:42 and we weren't that good at it. 23:44 And I never got my blog post done when I was supposed to, 23:46 and it made my partners mad. 23:49 We now have an internal marketing team 23:50 that's completely separate from our service team, 23:51 and all they do is market us as a company. 23:53 And we do it with methodologies that we preach. 23:55 We practice what we preach, 23:58 and we use ourselves as guinea pigs to R and D new stuff. 24:00 The benefits of all that is we see massive increase of brand awareness, 24:05 audience, better quality leads, and first and foremost, actual new business. 24:09 And my final thoughts— 24:16 I'll be really just quick on this—is chaos is good. 24:18 It's a good thing. 24:21 It helps flush out the weak from the strong, 24:23 and it helps you come up with new things, 24:24 and complacency is the kiss of death. 24:27 If you get comfortable at what you're doing because it's making money, 24:29 you're going to die. 24:32 Never stop innovating and inerating. 24:34 That includes business models and how you deal with clients. 24:36 And most importantly—everyone—stand up and say NO! 24:38 Fire that client that's not a fit. 24:43 Say no to the RFP from the people 24:46 that have created this wall that we can't climb because they are abusive. 24:48 They're not that great of a client. 24:53 Spend the time finding the ones that really match what you do. 24:54 Embrace them, 24:56 love them, 24:57 and keep them forever. 24:58 And use this stuff to, hopefully, grow your business so we can put ladders 24:59 against that wall, scale it up, and kick some ass. 25:03 Thank you very much. 25:06 [applause] 25:09 >> A question. >> Sure. >> Yeah. 25:14 Let's— >> Is that water for me? >> No. Don't drink it. 25:15 No. I'm kidding. 25:20 It could be. 25:23 Questions? 25:24 You guys—let's do one—maybe two—quick questions. 25:25 Then we'll go to the next— 25:29 >> Okay. 25:32 You mentioned a certain way that you use to bill, 25:39 and then you changed over to a different way. 25:42 >> I knew that'd come up. 25:44 So here's the thing— 25:45 SEO—marketing in general is about 25:48 number one—getting in front other people's audiences that are big 25:50 and leveraging that and then number two— 25:53 hopefully building your own audience out of that. 25:55 In Google's algorithm world, you did that by going out and placing links. 25:56 What the algorithm wants was different than what Google says they want. 26:02 So a lot of this stuff— 26:06 we would go out and write posts and get them published on blogs that had— 26:07 and they were not spun and duplicated. 26:11 It wasn't the kind of stuff that got hit necessarily. 26:15 But on old crusty sites that had strong old-school metrics—right? 26:17 1996—it's got a page rank 6— 26:24 and we would write articles for the purpose of— 26:27 and it's what everybody was doing and that's just kind of how it worked. 26:29 We don't do that anymore. 26:32 We are a hundred percent link building. 26:33 Link building is a byproduct of a well executed marketing campaign. 26:35 It's not a standalone offering—for us— 26:39 it shouldn't be for you. 26:41 What Ian was talking about—everybody's been talking about— 26:42 thank you very much— 26:44 is so critically important, and that's what Google wants. 26:45 So we stopped doing that, 26:48 and we had to beat clients like— 26:49 we had—people were made that we wouldn't take the money. 26:51 We had to re-educate them and build these models so I can say, 26:54 "Look. Give me that budget." 26:57 "Let me spend it this way, and I'll show you that it's way better." 26:58 "I'll guarantee it." 27:01 That's the thing—we're in an education phase right now 27:03 because it's kind of like when I started SEO— 27:06 I would spend 2 hours even explaining to somebody what a search engine was 27:08 because nobody knew, and it was labor intensive. 27:10 We're in that thing, 27:13 But the upside is because of this Penguin stuff— 27:14 all the sudden a lot of companies that weren't listening to Rand 27:16 and guys like copy blogger—you know—5 years ago— 27:19 they crashed into that wall at 200 miles an hour and now they— 27:22 so there's a lot of new business coming, 27:26 and you've got to stop doing that kind of stuff and we just don't. 27:29 That's—great content—we find audience and places to place it 27:34 that have a great audience, 27:37 and we try to leverage that. 27:38 The byproduct of that is link growth, 27:39 and it's a better kind of links and, 27:43 hopefully, will last longer than the other stuff. 27:45 >> Yeah. You mentioned that you guys 27:50 do some performance based kind of deals. 27:53 What kind of metrics do you set up with your clients for those kinds of deals? 27:56 It can vary from client to client. 28:02 It's part of that conversation of 28:04 what metrics are important to you—kind of thing. 28:05 But a lot of it is link based. 28:08 So here is the idea—here is the thing I found out. 28:10 It's like—I'm not competing against other content marketing companies. 28:12 I'm competing against that old-school link seller. 28:16 So if I had the tools and the metrics and the data and I know—— 28:19 I can accurately predict— 28:21 Hey, if we get this piece on this audience, 28:23 I know what kind of links that site— 28:26 Rand cites a great example. 28:28 I can push a button and pull data 28:30 that says every time Rand hits the publish button he gets X amount of links 28:32 on average generated to his site. 28:35 I can see that data, so I can pretty accurately predict— 28:37 and if we can find the audience and build— 28:40 so we go do that. 28:41 So now we can bill for links—what come out of that— 28:43 against a budget that's similar to how we used to do it. 28:46 Like you charge us X amount a link, right? 28:49 So I'm like—all right. 28:51 I'll build this model to do it exactly how we used to do it, 28:53 except I'm not going to do it the cheesy way. 28:56 We're going to track and— 28:58 we're going to charge against that budget based on the success of the campaign. 28:59 That means the scalability part about that, which is critically important. 29:03 If I hit that in 3 content initiatives—great! 29:07 If I get 2 that are super successful, and I hit my numbers, 29:12 I'm done early. 29:15 Now they've either got to pay me more money— 29:16 It's not time. 29:17 You've got to get away from it always being about length of time. 29:19 You can't scale like that. 29:22 You have to be able to make more revenue without adding bodies 29:23 because that's how you become the bloated agency. 29:26 You've got a bunch of—5 college kids for every new client, right? 29:28 All the sudden, you're very thin on knowledge and expertise at the top, 29:31 and you're really bloated with green, young people. 29:34 You can't scale that way. 29:36 You have to find ways to scale revenue disproportionately good 29:38 to your actual bodies in the shop. 29:43 [applause] 29:49
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