How One Agency Hit $3 Million By Firing the Entire Team
Roger Bryan has worked with some of the world’s largest companies as an SEO consultant. He sold his first website in 1998 before he knew what SEO was, and spent years working with nonprofits. His agency Enfusen was recently acquired by Growth Foundry and now he joins us to talk about how he has led agencies to great success and failure, and analyzing both. Roger also explains why generating revenue is the real focus of SEO. He also shares tips from his book and even a few crappy jokes.
3 Golden Nuggets
- Rebuilding the team is key. After resetting his entire team, Roger started from scratch by filling three major roles. First, he hired an office manager that would handle HR and systematize everything they were doing in the business. After that, he hired a general manager to take care of hiring both divisions of the business. Finally, he looked for someone that could assist him in marketing and sale for tasks like managing outsource vendors and content teams.
- Pay people what they’re worth. As Roger’s first mentor used to say, the salary you pay someone is what keeps them at their desk and the money that you pay them after that is what you pay them to help you earn more. Some people will take their salary and sit at their desk, but a few will work very hard to make you money and you should compensate them in return.
- SEO is not all about ranking. If you’re in SEO and you think your job is ranking websites, you’ve already failed. SEO is about generating revenue, so any task has to be correlated to a data point that leads to revenue. Anything that is not revenue-related it’s just busy work and so much of what SEO professionals are doing is busy work.
Sponsors and Resources
Agency Dad: Today’s episode is sponsored by Agency Dad. Agency Dad is an accounting solution focused on helping marketing agencies make better decisions based on their financials. Check out agencydad.money/freeaudit/ to get a phone call with Nate to assess your agency’s financial needs and how he can help you.
Why Did One Agency Owner Fire His Entire Team?
Jason: [00:00:00] All right. I have an amazing interview with one of my old clients who has sold a couple of agencies in the past. And we talk about a lot of the mistakes he made in running his SEO agency. Then we go into a lot of different tactics about how he fired his whole team in one meeting and then a year later he was at $3 Million.
And what are the three major roles that he brought in to help? What did he pay them? What was the framework that he used for success and how he really positioned his agency from just being an SEO agency, to being a revenue agency for his clients? And that was a huge, huge thing. You’re not going to want to miss out this episode.
It’s really great. Roger did an amazing job. So let’s jump into it.
Hey, Roger. Welcome to the show.
Roger: [00:00:54] Hey, thanks for having me.
Jason: [00:00:55] Yeah. I’m excited to have you on, you know, we were reminiscing about how many years ago was when you came out to Atlanta for a workshop with me. Can’t believe how long ago that was. But, uh, for the people that don’t know who you are, tell us who you are. And, uh, tell us a little bit about the agency.
Roger: [00:01:11] Perfect. Uh, my name is Roger Bryan. I’m an SEO consultant. My former agency, Enfusen, was just acquired by a company called Growth Foundry. We do enterprise-level marketing, a lot of multi-location, franchise marketing, a lot of lead gen, SEO pay-per-click, specialized in healthcare, nonprofits, all across the gambit on the different industries that we work with.
Jason: [00:01:35] Awesome. Well, let’s kind of jump into it and we’re kind of trying something new and you’re the, you’re the first guinea pig. So welcome to being the first guinea pig. And it’s really kind of a thing of like a how-to series to figure out, you know, if you’re an SEO agency because your agency that you sold was that, talk about how did you specialize in that?
Because a lot of times people will start an agency and they start trying to do everything. You know, design pay-per-click, everything under the sun. How did you pick SEO? Let’s start there.
Roger: [00:02:10] I sold my first website in 1998 and it sold pagers in long-distance service. And what I found was is then I didn’t know, I had never heard of SEO.
I don’t know that I even had met someone that had ever said the term before, but you’re putting on content onto those pages to try to get people to find them. Uh, to me, it was no different than making your company AAA in the phone book a hundred years ago, so that people knew, would find you first. It was just as kind of simple.
I got into the auto auction industry after that, and we had a website and we were working with nonprofit organizations and it was like, well, how do I get us to come up first so more people find us? I didn’t get into paid traffic until 2005. So I spent seven or eight years just living off of organic traffic, not even knowing that that’s what it was called.
I’ve always just been… I’ve stayed focused on it, and always hired people to do everything else. Because I was good at it. To me, my left brain works. It’s a science to me. And if you follow certain rules and you do the right competitive analysis, it’s easy.
Jason: [00:03:14] Walk us through some of the team structure, because obviously, you got amazing results for your clients because you were able to sell the agency. So walk us through, how was the team structured?
Roger: [00:03:26] Yeah. I’ve gone through a couple of different iterations of this. So my first agency, when I sold it, we had 12 people on the team, but we also had a call center and we’re taking in calls for the leads that we were generating. So it was a little bit more robust than just SEO services.
Typically, when I think of an SEO agency, let’s say sub-seven figure versus seven to eight-figure the, the differences between the two. The sub-seven figure, really you are the thought leader. You’re the one that’s looking at the data. You might have somebody else doing the research. You’re making strategic decisions and you’re allocating resources to certain people on your team.
For me, that would be a content team, whether you have full-time, or part-time, outsource a link-building source that compliments your content team. Uh, one good web developer. We tend to, I used to tend to stick to WordPress until I started working with Growth Foundry. Now it’s a whole different game with the clients they deal with and then one person that’s going out and doing some type of syndication.
So syndication means taking that content and putting it out into places. I’ve tried all of the different tools out there for social syndication or engagement syndication, or even manipulated social signals, a little decent outreach to the right outlets never, it never worked better. So especially in today’s world where everybody uses automation on those things.
And I think Google has found most of those. Getting one blog post picked up by one real news article is going to give you a hundred times the results of all of the automation tools that are out there. So I think I hit like 4 different people there.
When you get into a larger agency and you’re working with larger clients, say your retainers are six figures or more per year, you’re going to have a strategist in there. You’re going to have an account manager in there and they’re going to be different. The account managers dealing with the relationship, the strategist is dealing with the success. You’re going to have the same underlying.
Four core sections that you’re going to deal with, but those teams might be larger and have different points of interaction. I don’t like having larger teams for the sake of larger teams, but you have to provide a level of service that demands the type of revenue that comes from working with those larger clients.
Jason: [00:05:34] And then how was it structured? Like where you guys broken up into pods? Did these a strategists and the account managers, did they report up to an operations director? How was all that, you know, once you get above the seven-figure mark.
Roger: [00:05:48] Yeah. What’s nice is I’ve done this successfully once I’ve and done it completely wrong once. So I can compare and contrast.
Jason: [00:05:55] So let’s talk about the wrong first, like, and then get into the right way.
Roger: [00:05:58] Absolutely. The wrong way is for you as an owner to be in the mix. And I there’s a period at the end of that statement. There’s no if ands or buts about it. So when I went and I sold my first agency, my team dealt with the customers. I signed checks and I looked at monthly reports. And if my team had a problem, we would talk about it. I had very little interaction with clients other than conferences, or once in a while, maybe I would chat with some of our larger clients.
Now fast forward to my last agency Enfusen, I did everything wrong. I kept hiring kids straight out of college or interns, which there’s nothing wrong with that, but I would want to be the point of contact. I didn’t trust them enough. I didn’t go out and hire the best people. Now with that being said, some of, one of them now runs Halle Barry’s e-commerce business. So they’ve gone out and done amazing things.
And if I would have trusted them more, Infusion would have probably flourished more. But I had, every week I was talking about each and every client to some extent, and it was exhausting and we never scaled that agency, no matter how hard I tried, we would scale and we would implode, we would scale and we would implode.
So the worst part was I knew what I was doing. I look back now and I’m like, why the F, I don’t know if you swear on your podcast, was I doing that? And the nice thing about Growth Foundry is I’m the Chief Revenue Officer, so I’m responsible for growth and strategic alignment within the SEO team between our software and services.
So they’ve taken me away from the thing that I was doing bad in the last agency and giving me a chance to excel at what I’m good at.
Jason: [00:07:33] No, you can always cuss. Uh, no kids are listening. You know, I look at it as. Thinking back at all the agencies I’ve chatted with and all the agencies we’ve done. I look at it like the first stage is like the doer, right? Like you’re doing everything.
And then you get to another stage. You’re like the barker, like you’re barking orders to everybody, but you’re still the only one making decisions. Then you get to the delegation stage, and this is where you’re delegating and you’re trusting people. And then there’s one above that where I see only a select few actually make it there.
You know, one of our clients, Zach has actually made it there where he’s starting to transition out of being the CEO and more to, you know, the chairman. And it’s exciting to get to that leadership stage where now all you’re doing is coming up with the vision and direction, passing it to your leadership team and that’s it and you’re hands-off.
And that’s total freedom where you can scale. You have the freedom, you have profitability, like let everybody else worry about all that shit. Cause there’s always shit. It’s just a matter of who’s doing the shit, right? There’s always like, I guess we use another analogy of like cleaning out the barn.
There’s always someone that has to take the shit out. Like it just doesn’t evaporate. So let’s talk about kind of the right way that you, you’ve seen it. Now you’ve kind of talked about like why you guys were going through that roller coaster, right? The ups and downs, because that’s where you’re focused. What do you think the better model for SEO agency is?
Roger: [00:09:13] Yeah, it focuses almost too simplistic of a word. But when you focus in on a specific type of client in a specific service with a specific deliverable, that problem kind of works itself out over time. If you allow it, of course, if you’re arrogant and your ego is this big, you’re going to make that problem exist forever.
But when I look at those ebbs and flows, I could see them dictated on the partnerships that we were in and the service that we were providing. And it was different enough each time that it created that need for like a recalibration of the underlying offer and then the implementation and the systems and procedures, if that is not a way to scale and grow an agency.
When you get to that point where you’ve got a dependable, predictable revenue stream from the service that you provide, and you know that every client you sell it to has a 100% chance of success, then you have this model that people can go implement. And there’s bumps, there’s hurdles, there’s hiccups.
It’s not perfectly easy every time, but you can overcome them better if you’re working towards the same strategic goal each time. So starting with that focus element is going to make things so much easier.
Jason: [00:10:16] Then how is the team structured? The right way. So, you know, a lot of agencies listening and be like, all right, man, that sounds like me, Roger. Like, man, I’m doing everything. I’m the doer. I’m the Barker. Like we’re in this red zone here. So how do we get to the yellow and the green?
Roger: [00:10:32] Yeah, the campaign managers a big part of it. You can call them client success, managers, campaign managers, cat herders, whatever you want to call them. But they’re the, they’re the face.
They’re the ones talking to the client. Whether some large clients, you have weekly calls with most clients you have monthly calls with and their responsibility is to gather up all of the information. And make sure that as they’re going into that call, that they’re presenting success, not problems.
And if they’re focusing in on that, then they spend the whole month building up their data, looking at the reports, making sure everything’s going well. And then most importantly, we’ve got 10 data points that define success for every campaign. They go in and they look well, this one wrong, is this one-off?
Why is this one going down? And they’re talking to the team, they’re talking to the people running paid traffic. They’re talking to the people that are building links or writing content and saying, why is this data point off of what are we going to do to improve it? And their questions are what drives success from the underlying team doing the work.
Jason: [00:11:27] And these people, are they acting as an Account Manager and a PM or are these two different people? Because there’s a lot of, a lot of people struggle with, and I have my own kind of 2 cents on that too. So like, are they the same person? They’re different, they’re the unicorns, what are they?
Roger: [00:11:43] The unicorns are nice. I have one that I wish I could get back. But they are managing both. Now, I’ve scaled up to right around $5 million. I don’t know, at $10 million, if that dynamic would change, I’m going to assume that it will. And with the work that we’re doing at Growth Foundry and the trajectory that we have, um, you do have an SEO department that’s responsible for SEO, that reports up to the campaign manager now.
But the campaign manager still needs to reach down at certain points and find when things need to be done. Now, there’s a head of SEO, there’s a head of Facebook and there’s a head of, um, Google marketing, and then there’s a head of IT and software development here.
So I knew into that with them and I see that different structure. And it’s interesting for me, I’m not an exact, I mean, I’m Chief Revenue Officer. I’m not involved in any of that now. So as I bring my clients over and I bring over relationships, I’ll probably see how I fall into that mix.
Jason: [00:12:39] Yeah, no, I love that. And I always saw like, I guess it would work really well for where you guys were with if they had really good SOPs to follow. But I guess you would have to probably find that Account Manager that really understood this and understood the strategy and could actually probably challenge the client.
I mean, that’s kind of why a lot of us as agency owners, we’ve kind of fallen into that role because we know exactly how to help them. Like we’re not order-takers. If you hire like an order taker, you’re just going to get a Big Mac, like, you know what to expect with a Big Mac, but you’re not getting that most amazing burger that like, you start smelling it and your mouth starts watering and foaming, right? Like we can like taste that burger.
And that’s really what we want those Account Managers. So I presume that and you learn your lesson from the first one where you probably hired experienced people. So. Where did you find these people? And then, you know, what was the kind of levers that you would pull in order to make sure that they were right? And how did we move them out?
Roger: [00:13:45] Yeah, it’s interesting because this was, it was not a smooth process. So I started my last agency in Summer of 2005. And I remember coming in, it was April of 2007 and we were growing exponentially. We had, we were in one niche. We had one product offering. It was a home run. We were trying to scale. And I, it was just, the wheels were coming off. Like everything was wrong.
So I walked in one day and it just, the tension was there. One girl in the office started an argument with me and I’m like, you know what, that’s it, everyone just leave. And the entire company was fired. And then I spent the next six months going out and finding the right people. At that time I was based in Washington DC, and I don’t recommend that anyone walk in and fire their entire staff in one day, but it was, it was a year in the making.
And we went from that year doing $1.2M, and remember that was the beginning of the year. The next year we did $3.2M. So it was the right decision to make. Now there was a lot of fresh out of college. In fact, the girl that I brought in her, name’s Amy to run marketing for us at the macro level. I sold that company in 2012, nine years later, she’s still there running marketing for that company. And they’ve grown exponentially since then.
The Office Manager that I hired in that timeframe, still there, the General Manager that’s running the company since I sold, was my GM. So those right people helped me get to the point scale, sell, and then they continued to run the business for the investors that bought it.
Where did I find them? I plugged into the universities. I would go and do the job fairs, but I wasn’t looking for like interns. I was looking for the people that had gone out and done something. In 2005, 2007, when you’re trying to hire digital marketers, there wasn’t a lot that they could have done. So if they had a LinkedIn profile and they were doing any type of content creation online, they were, they were first in line.
Jason: [00:15:34] Yeah. I mean, I remember when we hired designers. You didn’t have to like, and this is where I kind of failed at school. I didn’t really kind of create any side hustle while I was in school. But the people that we would bring in, if we brought them in right after they got their degree, which wasn’t really a requirement with us. They had to, or had that side hustle and they were already having a portfolio that they could show us.
They weren’t just like this is their first pony, you know, the first rodeo. Was what I was trying to say, right? I was like first pony? Like where did we get a pony?
Roger: [00:16:11] Like, I don’t know. You got cows behind you. So maybe the pony’s not too far.
Jason: [00:16:14] That might be it. Maybe it was because I was watching Seinfeld. And, uh, when Seinfeld was at the table, he was like, I don’t like anybody that has a pony. And then the, this, the old lady was like, I had a pony. Why don’t you like me? So maybe I think of that. I don’t know, listening on the show, make sure you guys come and go to the website and tell me if you have a pony or not.
Roger: [00:16:36] We won’t judge you.
Jason: [00:16:38] We won’t judge you. But getting back to, I don’t even know where we were actually going since the pony. I guess that’s where I show you my ADD, like pony, what? Go over here.
Roger: [00:16:47] You took me for a ride on your pony and now we’re lost in the woods.
Jason: [00:16:50] We are so screwed. We were talking about hiring out of college. So I like what you were talking about. Like they already had the expertise there. They were already doing it. How did you make, after you evaluated that, what was kind of the first task that you had them do to make sure that they’re right? Because I’m sure you probably hired some people that, you know, like, oh man, that was a wrong hire.
Following this method when you reset the whole company. Cause that’s fascinating. Like that’s so fascinating. You come in, everybody get out and then a year later you bring on new people. So let’s talk about that.
Roger: [00:17:24] So there’s been a couple of different iterations here too with the last agency and this was good or bad.
The first 30 days that someone was hired, they would go through a whole set of tests, whether that be the digital marketer tests, some of the HubSpot certifications. And only about 70% of them would be able to complete the first set of tests.
So a lot of them, it was just a natural, you know what? You can’t pass these tests. You can’t work for us. Including my brother, he tried to come work for us. He couldn’t pass the test. He didn’t get to work for us.
Jason: [00:17:51] That’s probably a good thing. You never had friends or family.
Roger: [00:17:53] Yeah. I hired him in other businesses before. I don’t even know why I tried. But that was a decent way. So you had something to show me now, can you do what we do?
I had tried in the past, letting them launch a campaign. That was always a disaster because I wanted, I didn’t want to spend money on my stuff. I wanted to spend money on customer stuff. I had one guy, he had a $250 a week budget to generate leads. You spent like four grand in the first week and didn’t generate any and it was on my credit card.
That was when I learned that that probably that wasn’t going to work anymore. So every person is going to be a little different. Now we’re trying to hire people that are coming from other agencies. That have been in the game for a little while. We don’t have the luxury of time to train up from the beginning.
If you can come in, maybe there’s a little bit of retraining, but we need to put you in a role and we need you to go and then we’ll figure out how to make it better and how we can scale. I learned that by watching one agency grow from like nothing to like a hundred million dollars over the last seven years.
And I’ve worked with them on a couple of projects. I’m not going to name them because I don’t want to say it’s a good or a bad thing, but most of the projects I worked with them on failed. But the same people that were working on those projects five years ago are still there. And I bet you they’re better now, now that they’re a nine-figure agency.
But that says it’s, it’s a choice, they chose to just take on every client, take on every project and then they found their niche once they hit scale. Again, not recommending that, but that’s just another dynamic that I’ve seen people do.
Jason: [00:19:20] Yeah. I probably know who they are. They will be nameless, but, um, let’s talk about when you reset the whole darn team, who was the first three people and why they brought on. Like, the role, the roles.
Roger: [00:19:35] Yeah. The first role was the office manager, because I needed someone to handle like the HR side. Obviously, if you go in and you fire everybody, you probably aren’t thinking about HR too much. So they came in and their job was to help me systematize everything that I was doing in the business. From the way the clients are coming in. We had to have like insurance policies in every state that we were working in because of the space we were in. Getting that done, then the general manager to hire both divisions of the business, because there was a service and there was an e-commerce business.
By the way, I didn’t fire anybody in the e-commerce business side, they were fine. This was just the office and service staff. And then I needed someone that knew marketing and sales a little bit. Uh, I didn’t expect them to go out and sell. I was the one going to the conferences. I was the one in the booths, I was the one building the relationships.
And I enjoyed doing that, taking people out to dinner, buying them drinks and like, it’s not that hard. And when she came in and got to work, and then she started managing our outsource vendors and our content teams, and at that time we were using a third party to do our paid traffic.
It was just, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. Like, why did I ever try to do all this myself? But finding that person’s hard because it, especially today, because in 2007, entrepreneurship wasn’t as hot as it is now. And people weren’t as willing to take as much risk as they are now. So there’s that balancing act of if you’re going to find that person now, you’re going to need to pay them very, very well.
You can’t ask them to bootstrap with you as you’re growing this thing, you’re going to have to give them all the money, even if it means you’re taking less. Uh, to grow the business because what’s stopping them from going out and doing it themselves? It’s not that hard anymore.
Jason: [00:21:13] As an agency owner, it’s hard to know when you have to make those big decisions. And I remember needing advice for thinking like hiring or firing or reinvesting. And when can I take distributions without hurting the agency? You know, we’re excellent marketers, but when it comes to agency finances like bookkeeping, forecasting, or really organizing our financial data, most of us are really kind of a little lost.
And that’s why my friend Nate created Agency Dad specifically to solve these exact problems. You know, at Agency Aad, they help agency owners handle the financial part of their agency so they can focus on what they’re really good at. Nate has spent years learning the ins and outs of agency business. He understands everything from how to structure your books, to improving the billing process and really managing your financial efficiencies.
Agency Dad will show you how to use your financial data to make the key decisions from making your agency more successful and, most importantly, more profitable. If you want to know how your agency finances stack up to the rest of the industry Agency Dad can tell you how to do that. A lot of my listeners have already gotten their free audit from agency dad.
And if you haven’t yet go to agencydad.money/freeaudit before August 30th and get your free financial metrics audit. Also, just for smart agency listeners, find out how to get your first month of bookkeeping or dashboarding and consulting for free. It’s time to clean up your agency finances and listen to dad. Go to agencydad.money/freeaudit.
I love that you said pay them what they’re worth. Because there’s a lot of people that I see. That are like, well, just we’ll give you equity. I’m like, no, like you believe in this, right? Do it all yourself. But like you were saying, it’s very easy for other people to do it. So walk me through, like, we don’t know who they were.
So can you walk us through, what were you paying the office manager? What did you pay the GM or like, what would you pay right now? I guess let’s do that since we’re in 21.
Roger: [00:23:26] So right now, I’m in Ohio and our agency’s based in Pennsylvania, not in a big city, so we do have a little bit of luxury there. You’re not going to get quality under 52 a year.
And this isn’t even people working remote.
Jason: [00:23:40] For an Office Manager.
Roger: [00:23:41] Oh, well, when we talk about people now?
Jason: [00:23:44] Well, let’s talk about the office manager, the GM and the marketer, the three roles, and then you can go into the other roles too.
Roger: [00:23:51] So right now we pay our office manager probably makes around probably in the 46 to 48 range.
We do and, it’s interesting, I’m trying to not get sidetracked. We’ve got three service businesses here. We have two 20,000 square foot buildings here and play 65 people. So it’s a little different, that’s not agency work. On the agency side, I don’t even know what they pay anyone yet, which is interesting if I think about it.
Jason: [00:24:18] Well, go back to like when you hired those three people.
Roger: [00:24:21] Those three people all started at 52.
Jason: [00:24:24] 52, wow. Even the GM.
Roger: [00:24:25] That was in 2007. Yep.
Jason: [00:24:28] Wow. Of you had to do that now.
Roger: [00:24:30] I’d probably be 80ish.
Jason: [00:24:32] Good. I’m just trying to give someone a context.
Roger: [00:24:34] Yeah. There’s a part to that too, that no one stayed at 52. Within a year you were dramatically different. In fact, at 90 days, things started changing, uh, especially for the marketer who was handling all the client business. You figure if she was managing millions of dollars a year in revenue, I think she was getting dropped like 10 K every quarter, as long as our numbers were going up. And I’m sure she’s a six-figure earner now having been there so long.
Jason: [00:24:59] Yeah. And that’s the crucial thing is, is like pay them a fair salary. That’s what we always did. Fair salary and then do bonuses on performance quarterly. And you know, you’ll get them above, you know, rather than pay someone, you know, some people come in for a GM and be like, I want 200K I’m like, sure. You know, crap in one hand and wish on the other. See which one fills that first.
Roger: [00:25:24] You know what’s interesting about this? My first mentor was a gentleman named Patrick Morsillo, he was a really old-school Italian guy. He’s about 80 now. He owned the Greater Cleveland Auto Auction, which was the first real job that I had after the military.
And he kind of trained me on business. If it wasn’t for him, I’d probably always have the employee mindset coming from where I came from, but he told me he’s like the salary that you pay someone is what keeps them at their desk. And he’s like the money that you pay them after that is what you pay them to help you earn more.
And he’s like, not everybody wants more. Some people will take their salary and they’ll sit at a desk and they’ll plug, plug, plug, but there’s a few of them in there that will bust their ass to make you money and you’ll compensate them in return. I mean, and I’ve had that mentality. I mean, that was 2001 when I first started working for him, I was 23 years old and that never… they have something about cows going down and having sex in the field. Those two sayings have always stuck with me.
Jason: [00:26:16] You just keep looking at the cows behind me.
Roger: [00:26:20] I know, I can’t. But it really was. You’d have this thing about patience and cows having sex, but it was a whole ordeal.
Jason: [00:26:25] I kind of want to go there. I kind of want to go there, but I won’t because it was such a good, like, I loved the saying that, that he said about like, people stay there because of what you pay them, but they’ll make you money for what you pay them above that. That’s brilliant. I love that.
Let’s talk about. Was there a framework that you guys used at the agency in order to get people success? Because a lot of times I talked to some agencies that they’re just kind of winging it and they really don’t have a framework for specifically for rankings. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Roger: [00:26:59] Yeah, it comes down to a deliverable. So what we had then, the compelling offer with a guaranteed deliverable. So we did non-profit fundraising. So I could walk into a Goodwill and I could say, hey, I want to help you raise money by doing car donations online.
Here’s the deal, you’re never going to pay me a penny. I’m going to invest all of my own money in advertising. If it works, we’re going to split the profit 50, 50 after expenses. If it doesn’t work, you just wash your hands of us and I walk away and never problem. The offer dictated the implementation strategy. Over time, we had a campaign for Goodwill, we had a campaign for Red Cross, we had a campaign for Salvation Army.
They were different enough to be representative of the brand, the markets and the style of marketing that they were willing to do. But every Goodwill I walked into and there was 140 Goodwills at the time and we were working with 52 of them. So we were almost at 50% of Goodwills in the US were working with us.
We made that offer and then it was a dependable, predictable model. We knew you set up a landing page, you launch a separate website. You set up a landing page on our site, you set up a separate website, you set up a landing page on their website. You rank all three of them, the top of Google, so that no matter where they donate, it’s coming through us.
And then you later on paid traffic for broad keyword terms. And it’s the same keywords every time, just in a different market. And then you adjust your bids relative to the competition in that market. And that was it. I mean, there’s intricacies of how you got them to rank, but we’re going back to 2008. If you sneezed your websites ranked, it’s a little bit more complicated today.
Jason: [00:28:30] Yeah, it was so frustrating back then.
Roger: [00:28:33] I know. Well, I had eight websites on the first page of Google ranking for Goodwill car donation. You could not donate a car in the United States without it coming through us. And three of them are still on the first page today. I mean, that’s, that’s all you had to do to win. I mean, that was, that was, uh, that was a seven figure ranking campaign right there.
Jason: [00:28:52] I like that you had the success. What are some of the gotchas that you’ve learned with that? Because. I love that strategy. That’s very easy for them to commit and especially of how you phrased it too, which I elegantly picked up on.
I was like, well, we’ll split the profits after our expenses. So probably it was maybe they were getting 30%, but they’re 30% is better than zero, which was really good. So walk us through some of the gotchas there.
Roger: [00:29:21] So some of the, the, some of the gotchas there is at a macro level, the only way that an SOP or a campaign strategy works is if you have a defined outcome, like you can’t go into SEO with the idea that your job is to rank websites, you’ve already failed.
If you even started that. In fact, internally in our organization, we kind of, we don’t use the term SEO. We use organic revenue optimization. Our job is to deliver revenue to our customers. So any task has to be correlated to a data point that leads to revenue. And if somebody starts talking off tangent about this thing, okay, how does this get me to revenue? Nine times out of 10, that will bring them back.
And honestly, they’ll realize you went, I don’t even need to be worrying about this because it’s not revenue-related. It’s just busy work. In so much of what I see SEO professionals doing is busy work.
They read something in a Facebook group. They want to go try it to see if it works, but they don’t sit down and write down, okay. How is this going to get me from where I am today to more revenue because the client’s being need for revenue. Very rarely does a client pay for rank. And I say rarely because there are some doctors and lawyers that will actually pay for it because their ego says they just need to outrank the guy down the street.
They don’t care about money. They’re few and far between, but they do exist.
Jason: [00:30:31] And there are bad clients.
Roger: [00:30:32] They are bad clients. They stick with you until they get there. Then they fire you and then they yell and scream at you six months later when they’re not there anymore. So you know that there are short ride, six-month to 12-month client, which isn’t what you should be going after.
Anyways, if you have a dependable, predictable model that leads to revenue, your scaling capabilities completely open up. If you’re chasing a different result for each client on a different traffic strategy on a different type of offer, you will continue to be stressed out. You will never scale, no matter how much you try to put SOPs and people in place.
It’s that, that single, dependable, predictable deliverable that makes business scalable and repeatable.
Jason: [00:31:09] I love that you focused on the revenue. Because a lot of times an SEO agency will be like, we’ll get you on the first page. We’ll get your ranked. But you’re doing things after that to control that.
Because a lot of times, even with a pay-per-click agency, right, will be like, let’s use dentists. They’re a great example of a very hard client to work with. Right. We send a ton of leads to them, but their, their dumb staff never answers the phone. They never get back and they’re like the leads are shit.
Right. But you’re kind of taking that out of going, like, we’ll take it to here by picking the right market too. Right? Like it’s very important. That’s important. You pick a really bad market you have to be resourceful and figure it out. Like, I’m sure someone’s going to figure it out. And I have some clients that really rock the dentist world, but they are a little bit more challenging, but I like how you did the solution.
Roger: [00:32:06] The big thing that we needed to do in the nonprofit space that we’re repeating now in the space that we’re attacking right now is that we started answering the phones warm. So we set up a call center and answered the phones, got all of the information and went right into their scheduling system and put people in.
It’s not that hard to do. It’s not that expensive to do. It can actually just be a couple hundred dollars a month. And if you’ve got multiple clients in the same space, that’s nothing relative to the overall value that it creates. And it completely eliminated, like I remember one of my first clients when I moved back to the Ohio area after selling my agency, because I wasn’t allowed to work in the nonprofit space for a certain number of years was a dentist.
And to me, it was, it was a breeze. He went from said he was getting five phone calls, of course, no tracking in place. So like one week I generated like 76 phone calls, you know how many he answered? Three. So I drove to his office an hour away and I went in and I talked to his secretary or assistant, and I realized she wasn’t there to answer the phones.
And I was like, you know what? We should probably just stop spending your money cause we both wasting our time. But now we see like we’re, we’re scaling really large in the septic industry right now because we have the largest residential septic company in the state of Ohio.
Jason: [00:33:14] Is it a shitty client?
Roger: [00:33:16] It is. I get crappy jokes like that all the time.
Jason: [00:33:19] Oh, I had to like, literally everybody listening was like, when is Jason going to say shit?
Roger: [00:33:25] And the first key was setting up a call center. We quadrupled the number of conversions by adding in the phone calls. That means we didn’t change anything with the marketing. But four times more end result just by setting up a call center and we use answerconnect.com.
They’re great. They’re inexpensive sort of, we’re kind of at that point now where we’re asking ourselves that we want to have our own people doing this, but 24 hours a day, seven days a week you can get a live voice. If you call for services through any of our websites or partners, and in most cases we can direct schedule, not all of them, we’re working on that.
Jason: [00:34:00] I can only, I can imagine the call center would be like, you got shit? We’ll help you with your shit.
Roger: [00:34:06] I should throw that up on our tagline. We just, we just bought septictank.com. So we’re going really heavy into growing this business.
Jason: [00:34:15] The tagline should be like “we help you with your shit.” Sorry.
Roger: [00:34:22] I don’t know if that’ll fly with like the Facebook mods or anything like that.
Jason: [00:34:26] I know, I kknow. I just, hey, I got.
Roger: [00:34:27] And when the team did their brainstorming under taglines for septictank.com. Don’t worry, a lot of those came out.
Jason: [00:34:33] Oh, I’m sure like how it would be such a fun project to be on.
Roger: [00:34:36] Our engineers call themselves poop inspectors, so.
Jason: [00:34:38] Oh, that’s brilliant. Oh, that’s awesome. That should be the title of the podcast. Let’s talk about your book that’s coming out or it’s already out now, so, yup. “Local SEO secrets” Tell us a little bit about it.
Roger: [00:34:53] So we’ve been putting out content for a long time and I’m pretty vocal in a lot of the Facebook groups that I’m in.
We decided to take our top blog posts and put them together into a book and then reformat on them around a specific goal. And then I reached out to a couple people that I knew in the space that might be better at things like we got one guy to come in and talk about GMBs. Another one to call in and talk about the Google My Business, or Google Guarantee Program. One on e-commerce landing, page optimization, and one on PR for SEO.
And we put them all together and just kind of packaged it so that we could give our customers a premier on SEO. So if you read this book, you’re probably not going to be ready to do enterprise SEO, but you’re going to be able to have a conversation with us about the different tactics that we’re doing.
Uh, it’s the same thing. I published a book called “Data-Driven Marketing” in 2017 and it was written for the Microsoft partners that we were working with. It was like, hey, last year we generated $56 million in sales leads for Microsoft partners. Here’s how we did it. Do you want to do it? Here’s the book.
It sold 10,000 copies on its own, but it was never really designed to be like a revenue stream from sales. It’s, hey, I want to educate my clients cause educated customers actually stay around longer. I always hear agency people say I don’t want to make them too smart because they might fire me. And you know what that happens from time to time, we had a customer paying us a quarter-million dollars a year for four years.
And they’re finally like, you know what? Roger, we got this. We’ll come to you for one-off consulting. And I was like, okay, that’s awesome. I just trained a multi-billion dollar company and how to do their own SEO. It took four years. They made me a million dollars, but. They moved on and that’ll happen.
Jason: [00:36:28] Yeah. Everything transitions. It’s, it’s kind of like when I work with people, like even yourself, like you bake it in, you, you help them out. And then they transitioned, they graduate and they get to the next level, they sell. You know, it’s just, it all happens. And, and everybody should celebrate that. Not like I always hate when I hear, well, I don’t want to teach them everything I know.
I’m like, then what are they paying you for? Like, what are you even helping them for? Like, why are you throttling it? Like literally, it as much pressure as they can take, give it to them. And then they’ll be your biggest advocates when they have a success, because that’s why we’re doing it. Right?
Roger: [00:37:07] The head of marketing at that healthcare organization, it actually worked with me at a different company before that and brought me in because he’s like, I like the way that you teach what you’re doing, you don’t just do it. And you know what. He left there and went to another company and guess what they hired me to.
And another person from that health care company texted me over the weekend. He’s was like, hey, I’m at a new organization. These are the problems I have. Can you come in and help consult? You actually get more business by training your customers to fire you. Then you do less.
Jason: [00:37:34] Exactly. Give us one really killer thing in the book. And then we’ll tell everybody where they can get the book.
Roger: [00:37:40] Perfect. If there’s one killer thing from the overall strategy in here, it’s like flip it upside down. Don’t try to read it upside down, you’ll get a headache. But SEO, isn’t about ranking websites. It’s about generating revenue. So the one strategy that I tell everyone before you even start SEO is implement call tracking.
Now, again, this is local SEO. So we’re usually talking about a conversion path that is calls. I probably wouldn’t work with the pizza shop. I can’t track the revenue that comes in from that. Implement call tracking and figure out where you are before you do anything else. It only takes 30 days.
If your customer is telling you, they’re getting 50 phone calls a week, you implement call tracking. They’re probably getting five and you’re going to have a real benchmark set now you’re also going to listen to do they answer their calls. If they get a hundred calls and answer five, you’ve got to fix that.
There’s so many things you have to fix in order to make SEO successful. And we charge, we charge maybe 1500 or $2,500 a month for our additional audit roadmap and data capture.
But after that, you will know for certain, if you can help that person and what agencies chase money. Most of them do and it’s why their lives are so stressful and so miserable. Because they’ll take money from anyone. Be willing to say no. If the data doesn’t tell you, you can make them successful.
Uh, Travis Saga has a great thing. He’s like you only take on someone if he’s willing, and this goes back to poop, to give them a bucket of poop that they can dump on his head if he, if he doesn’t make them successful. And knowing that he only works with a certain number of people and the ones that work with him and brag about working with them.
But pretend there’s a bucket of poop sitting next to you. Don’t take that customer on if they’re going to dump that bucket on your head.
Jason: [00:39:15] I love it. I love that there’s so many different things to break down, but I love how you were like, just do one thing to see if they’re going to beat an amazing client and do that in early on, rather than invest all your time and you getting paid a great deal from them.
And then you’re like, this is miserable. You’re gonna lose your team. Right that you’re going to get bad clients and it’s just a constant rollercoaster ride. But if you do it and you reset it and you think, how can I make sure? And even going to the prospect, I want to make sure you’re good for us. You know, it goes back to an interview I did with Seth Godin, where he was like, look, there’s this one agency that only want, doesn’t want to hire over 50 people.
And if they only have 50 people, there’s only so many clients they can take on and they tell the clients, if you ever do anything, if you dump a pile of poop on us, we’re firing you. Talking about shit the whole episode.
Roger: [00:40:11] Going back to poop.
Jason: [00:40:13] You like how I came back to the poop. That’s what I did. That’s what I do. Where can the audience go check out the book?
Roger: [00:40:17] I mean, I’ll give you a link. They can go to rcbryan.com/localseobook. And I’ll just leave it up for a limited amount of time, but they can actually get the digital copy for free. So we took the whole book. We turned it into like a course format on teachable.
And what’s nice is we’re actually there’s conversations going on in there. There’s been tweaks. There’s been additions. Some chapters have been dropped to the bottom because people didn’t find them useful. Some chapters have been moved up, we’ve redone some of the intro stuff, things that you can’t do once you have a hard copy, but there’s a great community building around it of SEO professionals and amateurs, just learning and trading, uh, skill sets and, uh, swapping ideas in order to create the best strategies for people.
Jason: [00:40:56] Awesome. Well, this has been amazing. Everybody go to that URL, go to it now and go check it out. And, uh, is there anything Roger, I didn’t ask you that you think would benefit the audience?
Roger: [00:41:09] No, but I think we did 3 million, no, 300 billion cubic feet of poop last year. You forgot to ask me about that.
Jason: [00:41:19] All right. Well, if, if all you listening, if you enjoyed this episode and you want to stay away from getting the bag of poop thrown on you, you need to be surrounded by amazing agency owners. And we’re only looking for five agency owners that are over 500,000 and under 20 million. If, if that is you and you guys want to add multiple millions on, we want to invite you to go check out the Agency Mastermind.
This is where we share the strategies that people are crushing it on and you’ll be able to see the bags of poop that you can throw away. So make sure you go to, you guys can tell it’s not a script cause I’m putting poop in there. But make sure you guys go to digitalagencyelite.com and request the invite, put in your application.
And if I feel that we can help you out and you’ll be amazing for the mastermind, we’ll invite you to come on and uh, so you can stay away from the shit. All right, until next time have a Swenk day.