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My Experiences... The ups and Downs... of building an EMPIRE! (building an IM agency!!)T

Discussion in 'My Journey Discussions' started by thescholar, Sep 12, 2012.

  1. thescholar

    thescholar Newbie

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    Hey All!

    My goal is to get out my experiences, my frustrations, my successes, my failures, and my thoughts on this business I'm building here internationally but based in North America. I'm trying to build an Internet Marketing Agency, using both local and outsourced teams. One of my goals from the beginning of my Internet Marketing days was that I did not want to do all the steps and keep up to date on every single tactic myself. I wanted to gain a strong understanding of the the general concepts, and use my IT background to analyze and figure out the best strategies and solutions, and work with a team of specialists to achieve amazing goals. So remember, while I am always learning and understand a lot of IM to a good degree, I am not trying to actively sit and do SEO myself, nor the PPC campaign etc... Because I want to build an empire! And to build an empire you cant do everything yourself!! Therefore remember: I am trying to avoid the situation where I try to do everything myself. I am trying to build a team. I am trying to successfully get campaigns ranked!

    What makes this cool is that I'm not starting from day 1. I'm already a few years into this! I currently make $6000+ a month on average. But I hit a wall last year after nailing my big fish- no new clients for 1 year. Just broke it by luck 2 weeks ago.

    So hopefully with the above in mind some nuggets of gold will be found in these pages!!

    My first IM experience was with a client I got through a friend of mine. I had learned in some courses that to start you often want to contact friends and family. Let them know the cool stuff your learning and just itching to try out. Eventually someone will talk to one of these 'feelers' who will remember "Hey! My friend just told me he is doing IM and is looking for a client! You should call him!". So this client was unfortunately the know it all. He came to me with a website basically ALREADY ranking for the top spots in Google (#1-#3) which was easy at the time in his city. He had horrible keyword stuffing and it was just a mess. Even though it was a mess though he WAS ranking. He came to me and told me he is doing alright and wants to widen his scope. Get more keywords ranked, get more longtail out there... So at the time for some reason I already forgot, I decided that the best approach would be to generate hundreds of PHP pages with slightly different wording based on pages geo, brand and type. So we ended up with literally hundreds of pages that after a lot of work with this Indian based programmer finally started to look almost like a real website.

    We ended up scrapping that entire site because it was a huge mess. We went a different way - We build a classy beautiful site with powerful content (hired a copywriter from elance for that..) and lots of testimonials along the sides of the page... You know what happened?? The client was a very difficult one to work with and around the time we were preparing to launch the site this guy decides he does not want it anymore!! This was around the time a new Google algorithm came out and he got wasted in the SERPS. I wasn't even doing SEO for him yet, just site development. I told him listen the site is ready just put it up and watch the leads flow. He never did it. to this day I see he is still running the old site. For some reason he still has my analytics code sitting on his site somewhere and I still see whats going on! I told him along time ago to remove me from his site.... But the data shows a steady drop over the years. A terrible type of client to get and sadly it was my first in the IM world. I just did Web Development and a short but highly successful PPC campaign (35% conversion rate - not a big deal in this industry its an 'emergency' industry...) that had people either fill out a form that went to email, or call. People seemed to like the idea of "if you fill out this form you will get a callback by a real person within 15 minutes!"


    Moving on............

    How about one of the LARGEST telecom companies in Europe??? YES would you believe somehow I got in contact with one of their consultants who was the liason between me and this massive international corporations VP of marketing amongst others???

    It was a shocker for me to say the least. Budget of around $10k US. They sent me a prepared proposal which was recycled from another firm that ended up withdrawing from the project last minute. So we had a fixed budget with serious time constraints for an international telecoms facebook app!!! I was prepared to do a good job... But sadly I learned a new lesson here. Do not take really high end jobs without having your own in-house team for Quality Control!!! I hired a team from Germany to begin working on this facebook app for this telecom company. But they were not able to produce the level of quality we expected. They oversold their skills which I would of known had it been my team but it was another team outside of my control. Anyways... this corps app was stupid. Terrible idea. They were playing follow the leader with the other leading telecom company... I tried to get the message through to the channels above that this app will not be a good idea. A bunch of the features they wanted were not even possible with the facebook API at the time!

    Suddenly a few weeks into development senior execs wanted to see the progress and the team had trouble just wrapping up their bits and pieces of work into something to display for these senior execs. It was nightmarish back and forth with having to prepare something to show, then -oh forget it just finish it. In the end there was a serious internal battle in the senior marketing divison between a few execs on what direction to go in with their online marketing. They ended up dropping the facebook app like we told them to do, but didn't pick up the really cool idea for an app we gave them instead....

    After these events around april 2011 I took a break to continue focusing on developing my skills internalizing everything I experienced and just plainly didn't have any clients. Was also going through a very rough personal time with wife and mother in law (heh) which was killing my ability to focus... Shifted around that time to a new city. Thats when we enter modern times... Around July 2011 unexpectedly I caught my big fish! A client that would give me the freedom to work and try out new ideas to get them leads and sales and they had a decent budget as well!

    Sometime in the near future I will post more... and try to get into more detailed situations about my experiences.

    I will end with one question that is ringing in my ears...

    How in the world do you successfully find, and recruit awesome talent related to IM? I would assume by definition someone who is awesome at IM would never need to work for anyone!!! Therefore hiring someone means you will always only get less qualified people... Am I correct?
     
  2. thescholar

    thescholar Newbie

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    some bits of info I just remembered from the previous jobs above:

    for the first client that we built him a site with hundreds of slightly different pages... Google picked up all the pages, we got small bits of traffic from some of them, but pretty quickly they all started disappearing...

    From the beginning though this client created many obstacles stopping us from completing our job. He would try to tell us what style and type to use. He wanted to write the content, and didn't feel his terrible banner needed to be changed... Overall stay away from these types of clients who think they know best. The truth is no one best. You must try to think of what would be best, test it out and see the results! If they are good keep it. Maybe make some adjustments slowly, a/b testing etc...

    ---

    From the telecom company...
    When we accepted the project we knew there was time constraints. But we did not include additional time to 'package' the work for previews. So finally when we had to show a 'working copy' of the app to the senior execs by that time all the core coding was in, but the UI and design was not completed, so it looked horrible and they didn't like that. So whenever you have to show something, even if its just 20% complete, you will need to take time to make it look somewhat 'polished' so the client won't be scared. This goes for websites too. Don't show it them if there is a glaring little bug you can quickly fix.
     
  3. 75INZ

    75INZ Regular Member

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    From pat experiences, I've found that you have to be very firm with clients who think they know better than you.

    "NO! THIS MY BUSINESS. I DO THIS FOR A LIVING. I KNOW IT BETTER THAN YOU DO and this is what you hire me for. If I needed plumbing work I wouldn't try to do it myself, I'd call you, because that is what you do, not web design"

    Works if you can pull it off as being strong and assertive and not an asshole.
     
  4. thescholar

    thescholar Newbie

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    yes with some people, but some people are just completely insane!!!

    I'd like to have a project manager deal with the client. Generally when they know they are dealing with someone who is heading a team responsible for their project and just dished out a few thousand dollars they get serious. When your small, people second guess you all the time. It causes you to second guess yourself!
     
  5. thescholar

    thescholar Newbie

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    Last year I closed my current client.

    I started off hiring a few people with long term in mind. Was initially doing the hiring on oDesk. I was aiming for 'competent' $3/hr people. I ended up with a lot of problems. I found that generally the work quality was poor and the skills were poor. If you did not give them exactly what to do, you were in trouble. Eventually found a few good people at higher rates. One good thing about odesk is their work diary.

    We started off with an SEO campaign and a PPC campaign. We built them a website, which took a few months because I was ill equiped from the client to produce the website content wise. They were not providing enough information about their company and it has actually always been difficult to get information from them. As a result we really took a long time getting the site up. There were so many details that needed to be thought out, I saw that I need to have someone to direct the graphic designer, programmer and content writer. If not there was no way I was going to grow my business and acquire new clients.
     
  6. amb00

    amb00 Newbie

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    I am new in the world of somewhat I.M. "New" as in, I have a bunch of ideas that I want to implement but I don't yet have the time (all the work I will do it myself - computer engineer - ). I will eventually implement them b/c I am curios how far I can go.

    You will never be able to hire an all-around good IM (as in marketing + tech) because he will want to be his own employee. You could do a partnership together but that is all; if you can find them.

    You will also find few people really good in this business because in the end it's not very different from selling used cars (I mean I.M. and not creating websites for clients). I have this feeling from reading a lot of posts in here. Creating a bunch of websites, selling more or less silly products. And the websites are only one page, with pictures, videos and content written in different fonts and stuff... just to get the attention and to sell that thing.

    And when you go to a faculty, to learn about computers and stuff and you become and engineer, you prefer to do more important stuff or at least things that pay you constantly (working for MS, amazon, facebook or other companies big or small). In your free time, you can experiment.

    Considering the analogy with selling used cars ( the seller will tell you what you want just to take your money) that's why you will not find a lot of all-around, good people in this field.

    The websites that I will build will actually help people; some of them will be a start-up and I just want to see where they will take me. But not product reviews and other "true" IM stuff (to sell products as an affiliate or write e-books and then sell them, or other things I keep reading on this forum.

    Btw some of the websites I will build, will get funded through adsense (because of this I say that I am in the IM world, since I create them only to see how much money I can get).

    Or maybe I have a twisted view of what Internet Marketing is :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2012
  7. neu009

    neu009 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    You cannot be "very firm" as you put it dpending on which clients you deal with. Honestly all the agency business is lfuff and BS but most likely you will not get a piece of the pie. The large clients witj budgets in exces of 100k a month wont go for the very little fish. You can be better it won't matter a bit. If you do not have any ppl in house I would suggest not trying to score dev work. As you mentioned you will most likely shoot yourself in the foot.
    Think about it , anybody can do seo,sem, analytics no biggie can just learn it siting there. Dev work you need someone who knos all the stuff already.
    Best of luck