Search Domination Strategies

Jay Taylor, Managing Director, Leverage, Tampa, FL

Jay Taylor is the Managing Director of Leverage, an award-winning digital marketing agency and Certified Google Partner. Leverage partners with its client brands to help them dominate their market with custom-tailored, location-based digital marketing strategies and concentrates on verticals in legal, healthcare, real estate and construction. The goal is to position a client company at the top in terms of search visibility and digital presence for each of a client’s geographic locations and practice areas.

Key to this effort is utilizing a “hybrid strategy,” embedding websites with obvious search terms and then including other less competitive, highly targeted keywords. Jay provides the example of a “Tampa personal injury attorney,” whose keywords might also include “Tampa dog bite injury attorney” and “Tampa slip and fall attorney.” While great content is essential to successful SEO, the agency recommends adding paid search, which combined with organic search, can be very effective. The goal is to get a client’s site to show up at the top of the first search results page in organic search, AND in the paid results above that AND in the right-hand side knowledge panel. 

Is that enough? Not yet. 

Jay believes reputation management is essential for establishing a successful online presence and even more critical for establishing a successful search presence. Companies need to have a reputation generation and management strategy running alongside their SEO and PPC efforts. The objective is to beat competitors with both the number of reviews AND with a higher average rating. Perception: More ratings + higher average rating = CLEAR WINNER!

Jay started his career in marketing working at someone else’s agency. He studied finance and marketing while pursuing his MBA and started Leverage Digital upon graduation in 2006-2007, way too soon, he says, in retrospect. A few more years of experience at an established agency would have provided him with the opportunity to learn how run an agency, “from sales to operations to account management,” and to understand the services. He confesses to googling “how to write an invoice” upon securing his first client.

Jay gave himself a deadline of “being profitable within 12 months” and two years later started hiring staff so the agency could grow. At the same time, he shifted his personal focus from technical work to working on client strategy. Today, Leverage’s creative team handles design and copywriting, the development team handles programming and website development, and the account management team services the accounts.

When Covid-19 struck, his agency went remote. They are back in the office now, masked, and with social distancing measures in place. They meet with clients either remotely or in person, depending on the client’s preference – but the focus is always “on safety.” Jay defines agency growth more In terms of growing the size of the accounts they have rather than adding to the number of accounts. 

Leverage has received a number of industry accolades and honors, including those from the International Davey Awards, Hermes Awards, W3 Awards, and Communicator Awards. In 2018, Leverage was named the 9th fastest growing company owned or led by a University of South Florida alumnus. Jay notes that it important “to focus on your strengths and be the best in your area of expertise and not try to be all things to all people.”

Jay can be reached on his agency’s website at leveragedigital.com and on LinkedIn at: linkedin.com/jaytennysontaylor

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Leverage Process, Integrate Apps, Automate Profit

John Saunders, Founder, 5Four Digital (Miami, FL)

John Saunders, Founder of 5Four Digital, honed his SEO, SEM, and PPC digital marketing skills when he started his career working for an agency that provided dealership-level marketing services for automobile manufacturers. When John figured out that he wanted to use his skills for different kinds of projects and a more diverse clientele (SMBs, tech-startups), he started his own company. Today, 5Four focuses on brand identity (logo design and brand guidelines), and website design and development on Shopify, Webflow, and WordPress platforms.

In this interview, John explains how to build automated linkages that will increase customer engagement and discusses 3 “shopping” platforms: WordPress, Shopify, and Webflow. 

John says WordPress was a game-changer – it made CMS (content management systems) “accessible” for people with lower-level HTML and CSS skills. The platform is flexible enough that amazing sites can be built with either the supplied templates or with custom code. A disadvantage of WordPress is that it requires the use of an extensive array of plugins for website “attributes,” and these and other security measures need to be maintained.

WordPress with a WooCommerce plug-in works well for ecommerce, but John has found that Shopify allows the agency to more quickly scale stores for its clients. One Shopify app, Teelaunch, provides companies with low cost, high-quality print on demand products so customers can create an MVP (minimum viable product, Eric Ries: The Lean Startup,) and build their own brand for less than $1000. Another CMS option, Webflow, can produce outstanding websites. It has a slight learning curve but is easy to use and highly flexible.

Although John currently sees Webflow as ”the future,” an organization’s decision to use a particular CMS platform should be based on a number of considerations.

Through the years, John has developed systems and standard operating procedures which allow him to delegate tasks to his staff or to automate processes, so the work gets done automatically.

One tool he has found to be particularly helpful is Zapier, which provides a way to “web-hook” different websites, platforms, and apps. John uses Zapier to cross-integrate his company website contact form with Slack (to notify John that the form has been filled out), and then with Mailchimp to send a “thank you for your interest, here’s another form.” Response to that drives another form for scheduling . . . and that information is sent to Colony. John says Zapier can be used to link Facebook to Gmail, Facebook Forms to Google Sheets, with up to 10 such linkages free.

John recommends written website SOPs to facilitate task handoffs to clients if the client prefers to maintain the site.

5Four Digital was already running remotely when Covid-19 hit. John’s SOPs and integrated technology continue to keep the agency operating smoothly. Many of his team use Asana to manage tasks. He notes that not everything he has done succeeded. However, the failures often provided the tools, resources, and experience he needed for subsequent projects . . . that did succeed.

John recently started a company offering downloadable illustrations featuring people of color so sitebuilders have beautiful pictures that promote diversity. BlackIllustrations.com. He is also involved in digital education and sees a lot of that in the future replacing the traditional four-year degree. 

John can be found on his personal website at JohnDSaunders.com and @JohnDSaunders on Facebook and Instagram. His agency’s website is: https://www.5fourdigital.com/.

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A Video Focus

Ian Garlic, CEO, authenticWEB (Orlando, FL)

Ian Garlic is CEO at authenticWEB. He started his career in marketing about 15 years ago as a consultant for one of the world’s largest information companies – back when good video production required hiring high-end, expensive, technically-savvy videographers. When Google purchased its video competitor, YouTube ten years ago, Ian saw opportunity, left the information company, and started authenticWEB. As a video marketing agency, authenticWEB crafts journey-stage-specific, people-story videos designed to reach “the right customers at the right time.” The goal: to engage potential customers with emotionally riveting content to “earn their love.”

For each client, the agency develops 10 to 100 video packages from micro content to 15- to 20- minute mini-documentaries. The different types of videos they produce include: 

  • the overview video (most people’s commercials), 
  • service commercials (covering the different services provided), 
  • how-to videos, 
  • process videos (explaining complex processes so people understand what happens at different times), 
  • topical video blog posts (including social), 
  • videos covering frequently asked questions, 
  • About Us videos (Ian notes that “About Us” is the second most useful page on a website, an important page for conversion, and that people usually go from the “About Us” to making contact with a company), and
  • video case stories.

The most effective video case stories involve interviewing a client’s customers and searching for that gem of a story that will evoke a positive response in viewers. Ian says there is no way of telling who will give a good interview and who won’t. From raw footage, authenticWEB parses different edits and formats for different clients at different stages of the customer journey. Ian develops videos content to help customers identify a client’s business as an “authority” and “a new best friend.” The agency’s clients include attorneys, doctors, dentists, and other agencies (because agencies often have a hard time marketing themselves). 

YouTube: The Next TV

In this interview, Ian elaborates on the increasing importance of YouTube in marketing outreach – he likens it to “the next TV.” YouTube videos need a “to be on point, perfectly messaged, and . . . delivered at the right time.” A website only gives you a piece of the interaction data. YouTube gets all the interaction data: including total and percent view time. That kind of feedback facilitates cross-platform video and content improvement.

Online video production does not require the same high-end equipment used in the past. Ian notes that today he does his own videography and that he travels “light.” The production process is simpler, so that the focus stays on story and editing the story for the audience. Ian recommends reusing content. He explains, if you drive traffic to your YouTube videos, YouTube will increase your rankings.

YouTube’s search engine is second only to Google. A Google search will start a well-indexed video at the exact moment in the recording where the answer to the searcher’s question is provided. 

Some people think they can buy YouTube followers . . . enough to get their own URL. Ian reminds us, “You can’t buy love.” Purchased followers won’t necessarily view your content, so view time is sacrificed.

Ian also discusses some of the advantages and disadvantages of some of the online production tools. He can be reached on Linked in or on his agency’s website at: https://authenticweb.marketing/.

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Building a Successful Sales Process

Justin Seibert, President, Direct Online Marketing (Pittsburgh, PA)

Justin Seibert is President at Direct Online Marketing, an agency that focuses on and excels at – direct online marketing – to move clients’ ROIs in a positive direction. In this interview, Justin describes the process of developing strategies to drive quality traffic to its clients, converting that traffic into leads, and sending leads through to generate sales. Justin says the process of vetting potential clients is “very long.” Some of what the agency looks for to get a good fit:

  1. Medium-sized businesses provide the greatest opportunity to make an impact. Smaller businesses will not be able to get benefits commensurate with what it will cost them to work with DOM. In the case of larger businesses, the agency will not be able to move the needle as much.
  2. Highly niched businesses, either the lead brand or the challenger brand within a specific niche. These businesses are not “household names” unless the household is one already familiar with that particular industry. 
  3. Almost any industry. The agency works heavily with a number of SaaS (Software as a Service) companies, higher education, and ecommerce retail and less so with everything else – from “manufacturing to finance to entertainment.”

In 2001, Justin started his career in Los Angeles, working for a company in the financial industry. The company had been highly successful with radio marketing but was looking for the next thing . . . and assigned Justin the task of figuring out how to use the internet to generate quality leads. His office was right next to the sales floor, so he got fast feedback on how good a job he was doing. 

In spring of 2006, Justin moved into his basement and blogged at least five days a week, trying to get the word out about digital marketing. By October, he hired his first part-time employee.

Justin says he always liked the idea of hiring people . . . because of the positive impact it would make on those individuals, their families, and on the community at large. But, planning and timing the growth of a company, especially when there is no outside funding, is a challenge. Justin explains, There are two classifications: 1) the revenue producers (sales, marketing, and 2) the internal administrative staff. He now has the confidence to hire for those internal functions when he perceives it is best for the company. 

For “client-facing” employees, Justin looks at the current book of business and the pipeline to decide which functions to hire and when. The problem is in the timing. If he hires ahead of need, he may not have the cash flow to support those new hires. If he hires when everyone is swamped, the workload increases even more because the new employee needs to be trained. Cultural fit is paramount – but not intransigent. The agency’s employees are virtual due to Covid, the culture has changed, and, in the middle of all of this, Justin has been hiring.

Two things Justin notes as important when starting an agency: 1) Know what your process looks like. (He cites Marcus Lemonis’s “People Profit Process.”) and 2) Get some sales training early on. Sales plus process is key.

Justin can be reached on his agency’s website at: directom.com or on LinkedIn at Justin Seibert (S-E-I-B-E-R-T).

Cultural Segmentation: How to Transcend Translation

Alvaro Psevoznik, CEO, DM Agency, Hollywood, FL

Twenty-nine years ago, Alvaro Psevoznik, CEO of DM Agency, was a 19-year-old Argentinian law student, designing flyers for hospitality clients in exchange for admissions into nightclubs. Alvaro found himself frustrated with Argentinian politics – which is plagued with fiscal instability, political corruption, de-motivational handouts for a large percentage of the (unemployed) citizenry, and a cycle of massive financial crises every 5 or 10 years. Alvaro’s experience was, no matter how hard one worked and saved, bank accounts could disappear overnight. This constant uproar, Alvaro says, makes it hard for people in South American countries to plan and work toward a future.

Alvaro moved to the U.S. in 2002 and went back to hospitality marketing. He claims that early adversity provided lessons that helped him survive the 2007-2008 recession (which closed some of his small- and mid-sized clients’ businesses) and prepared him for today’s Covid-19 challenges. In this interview, Alvaro talks about the importance of positive messaging, adaptability, and being “transparent” when faced with crises. He emphasizes that changing Covid-19 “rules” requires fast response. 

Today, DM Agency is a comprehensive, full-service, one stop shop for digital marketing solutions. Alvaro explains that there are costs associated with trying to provide a wide range of client  services—you either risk people discovering that you are not as “good at everything” as you claimed, or you find yourself supporting an expensive, diverse “stable” of top talent in order to be able to “deliver.” If he were to start over today, he says he’d focus on specific industries and doing only what he was best at doing – lead generation through online advertising.

Most DM clients are restaurants or hotels, but DM has also started to expand into the Esports — organized, online, multiplayer video game competitions that produce $2-3 billion a year through advertising and sponsorship. Esports, Alvaro says, is huge. DM has virtual offices concentrating on Esports in Chile, Argentina, Colombia, and South Florida. Alvaro has created “splinter” agency entities – pretty much the same staff/different “labeling” – that focus on specific unrelated industries in order to avoid such questions as, “What would a restaurant marketer know about marketing windows?”

Agencies often advertise that they are “bilingual. Alvaro says that DM is bi-cultural. Speaking Spanish is different from thinking in Spanish or Latino. DM understands that the Spanish community in the US is not a homogenous group – the culture of origin varies significantly by geography across the US. The agency divides Hispanic marketing into four regions: Mexico and North America, Central America, South America, and the South Florida Cuban community. 

Aside from South Florida, how do cultural differences play out across the United States? New Jersey, New York, Chicago have strong Puerto Rican communities with some Mexicans and Dominicans. Mexicans as a majority are located more on the West Coast – Arizona, Texas, and California. Because the words, the accents, the thinking patterns, and the cultures in each community are different, marketing needs to be different. Alvaro hires Hispanic staff that mirrors each targeted audience – so the messages “rings true.” Google translation does not work. Neither does human translation if the culture, vocabulary, and thinking patterns of the translator are not the same as those of the target audience. Authenticity cannot be faked.

Alvaro can be reached on his company’s website – DM agency, as in digital marketing agency – dmagency.us

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Marketing a Menu for Restaurant Success

Melissa Libby owner, Melissa Libby & Associates (Atlanta, GA)

Melissa Libby, owner of Melissa Libby & Associates (MLA), started her career in hospitality. Today, her friends call her the Restaurant Whisperer

In this interview, Melissa talks about the challenges restaurants have faced in the face of Covid-19, the changes yet to come, and the lessons she has learned in her 27 years of restaurant marketing. In recent months, MLA has helped its clients pivot to curbside delivery, takeout, and/or to serving different retail markets. Some of the adaptations? Restaurants have: 

  • Started low-overhead ghost kitchens/pop-ups that provide different menus from what is available in brick-and-mortar restaurants
  • Converted parking lots into patios for outdoor dining
  • Elevated curbside packaging and pickup to elegant “experiences.” 
  • Started selling off their wine cellars, offering some great wines at good prices. 

Melissa advises, to further support your local restaurant, “Tip well.”.

Because restaurants typically do not have a lot of money, they value public and community relations over traditional advertising. As restaurants open back up, which clients are most likely to return for dining “in”? Turns out demographics provide no clue. Dining in is the more profitable option . . . but it’s tough to figure out who to target with the “come back in” messages. Each individual will have his or her own level of comfort and timing for when it “feels safe.”

Melissa notes that “online ordering technology is glitchy.” She has seen some improvement already and thinks it will quickly evolve to something “way better, very quickly.” Third party delivery services take a significant cut of the food delivered. So, she says, order from the restaurant, and pick it up yourself. 

Melissa lauds the Georgia Restaurant Association for lobbying to get the necessary changes made to help Georgia’s restaurants survive.

When Melissa talks about the early days of her business, she says that she did not plan for success. She did not ask “What do I do if I get more clients than I can handle,” she asked, “What am I going to do if I fail?” She feels she would have done better to plan for success and to prepare for success. Melissa used a siloed PR business staffing model until she figured out that did not work for her. She then divided her staff up by what they liked to do best and where they excelled. This made her staff happier, and her organization more resilient. Now, when an employee leaves the agency, the body of knowledge connected to a client remains intact because everyone in the agency has been working with that client. 

Melissa can be reached on her agency’s website at: ThinkMLA.com.

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Four Core Audiences: Your Email, the Lookalike Email, Your Web, and the Lookalike Web

Chris Carr, President and CEO, Farotech (Philadelphia, PA)

Chris Carr, President and CEO of Farotech, started his agency 19 years ago as a web development company, moved into SEO, and then transitioned to what Chris calls conversion science. Today, Chris says, his agency builds integrated systems that generate leads, nurture leads into clients, and then convert clients into brand ambassadors who refer new clients to the brand.

Chris says that most companies spend a majority of their time and effort generating leads – and then alternating between generating leads and reacting to the results. He emphasizes that businesses can’t depend on a single marketing platform. A properly designed system, like a flywheel, maintains consistent momentum, gains power, and generates “really great results.”

Farotech “deep dives” for 2 months into a client’s marketing, discusses a client’s unique selling proposition, compares it to customer search volumes, and applies a software that identifies first top ten relevant Google search results in a client’s market niche. Evaluating the “winners’” readability, content, content length, infographics, and backlinks yields information about what the client company needs to do to beat the competition. After Farotech understands a client’s messaging requirements for both global audiences and the client’s segmented audiences, the agency writes great, value-imbued, data-based content. Pushing data and information makes content sharable, Chris says. 

The agency provides a strategic 3- to 5-year roadmap that highlights gaps and opportunities and, over time, recommends messaging tweaks to keep the client “at the top.”

One technique Farotech uses to great advantage is placing Pixel on a client’s page to track visitor conversions, optimize ads, build targeted audiences for future ads, and remarket to people who have made a purchase. Pixel is very useful for capturing “lookalike audiences,” people who are unaware of a company and its offerings, but who are demographically similar to a company’s “good customers” or similarly challenged. Finding the “lookalike” audiences for a client’s emails and for its website users greatly expands opportunities. Chris says that blog messages should be targeted, polished, and personalized and delivered at least once a week in order for the blogger to be recognized as a thought leader. 

Chris says he likes to “fail as fast as I can, and then adjust and then keep going and keep going.” He believes it is very important to invest in training staff, and lauds Greg Crabtree’s book, Simple Numbers, as an effective guide for “when to cut and when to hire.

Chris can be reach on his company’s website at: farotech.com consultation. Those who would like a consultation should email: info@farotech.com. He believes most companies will find this initial consultation invaluable. “He says, We work really hard to tell you where you’re weak, where you should go from here. Even if you don’t use us, these are the three things you should be doing, things like that.” 

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StoryBrand the Client as Epic Hero

Jay Owen, Founder and CEO, Design Extensions (St. Augustine, FL)

Jay Owen, Founder and CEO at Design Extensions, started building basic websites at age 17. He worked for a number of years as a “solopreneur,” hiring contractors as needed, and, as a company, made as much as six figures. When the economy collapsed in 2008, Jay’s business was still doing well. He looked around. People were losing jobs. Things were in crisis. Idea? He’d create a full-time job for somebody. His StoryBrand Certified Agency and HubSpot Goal Partner has been in business and growing for over 20 years.

Today, Design Extensions employs about 20 people, a great size because Jay has been able to create scalable systems that don’t break with the absence of one person. In the past 5 years, following Mike Michalowicz’s book, Clockwork, the premise of which is that there should be no one person in which the company is dependent, Jay has “replaced himself” at every level. The company can now survive, even if Jay is gone for as long as 30 days.

Jay says, “A lot of business owners find marketing very confusing and expensive,” and it often does not work. He explains that the agency’s job is not to build websites, put pixels on a screen, or write good content for clients. Applying Design Extensions’ proven growth strategies to clients’ businesses helps them grow – by clarifying their messages and developing and executing effective plans, the agency enables clients to gain attention and acquire customers. The agency plans to add a consultancy arm to provide coaching and strategy direction, to make sure businesses have clear growth plans for both marketing and business fundamentals. 

In this interview, Jay recommends a number of books that have been pivotal for his agency. The agency’s messaging is built around Donald Miler’s “StoryBrand,” as described in his book, Building a StoryBrand. Jay says that most people talk about themselves too much when they should talk about the customer’s problem and how the company’s solution can help the customer win. The customer needs to be the hero of the story. When Design Extensions changed the message on its homepage  to align with StoryBrand concepts, incoming leads doubled. Telling the one thing that makes a company “special” is rarely all that special. Three unique things can become very special. 

Kim Scott’s Radical Candor inspired Jay to have the courage to “be exceptionally clear with where improvement needs to happen,” as long as that correction was paired with caring immensely for the individual. Jay believes it is his “responsibility to create a space where people can fail without failing catastrophically.” Little failures will make people stronger. Gino Wickman’s Traction provided the framework for the processes, procedures, and systems needed to make his business scalable and long-lasting. His final hiring interview, from Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership, involves Jay and his wife taking the prospect and spouse to dinner.

Jay’s book, Building a Business that Lasts (Without Sacrificing Family) is currently available on his website, jayowenlive.com, for the cost of shipping and handling. He has a podcast of the same title available on that website and he is on “all the social media. 

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Profit Strategy for a Crisis

Kevin Hourigan, President and CEO, Bayshore Solutions (Tampa, FL and Denver, CO)

Kevin Hourigan is President and CEO of Bayshore Solutions, a digital agency that started in 1996 as a branch of a managed services provider – a 3-member team building and maintaining client networks. Two years later? Thirty employees. 

Decades ago, one of the Kevin’s engineers developed a company website and asked 100 of the company’s clients if they would be interested in a 3-page website for $500. Client responses were either “What’s a website?” or “We’ll never need one of those.” One client agreed to give it a try. That $500 website cost $5,000 to build, but two years later, in 1998, clients came begging for websites, which were now more profitably priced at $7,500 and up.

The company failed in its attempt to go public in the late 90s and survived the dot com crash in the early 2000s. Its base of paying clients plummeted 90%. In response, the company slashed its staff from 225 to 12 in a year. Larger agencies, the ones Kevin considered as his mentors, the ones that went public . . . failed. Bayshore Solutions is one of only 2% of the digital agencies that survived the dot com collapse.

When Kevin realized that what he had left of the company would never again be “an aspiring dot-commer on the verge of going public, spending money like it’s going out of style with clients spending money with us like it’s going out of style,” he knew it was time to rebrand. He wanted the new name to be “agnostic,” that is, not tied to any transient technology. Bayshore Web Development could become obsolete. Baysore Solutions, on the other hand, would not be tied to any here today, gone tomorrow technology.

For almost 25 years, BayShore Solutions has helped clients create advertising campaigns that drive qualified traffic. It designs and develops powerful stakeholder-targeted websites with the right marketing mix to help its clients succeed. The agency markets itself as a digital expert, applying strategies horizontally across a variety of verticals, transferring experience from one vertical to another completely unrelated (and non-competing) vertical. Every solution is unique, with a balance of the “bleeding edge of new and the tested, tried, and true.” Around 90% of implementation strategies are things Bayshore KNOWS will work. The 5 to 15% that is experimental will vary depending on the phase of an industry’s business cycle. 

After Kevin had excellent experience working with a CEO coach, he decided to let his leadership team hire an executive team coach. The result? Tighter vision and a better definition of core values (working together, winning together, and solving problems together), with the team all learning together, rather than receiving the information from “an informed Kevin. He says, “Having a team coach, we’re hearing the same thing at the same time.”

In response to the impact of Covid-19, Kevin explains that his company has reduced unnecessary expenses and increased its marketing budget by 50%. He says the company’s strategy is to market and sell its way through the crisis, rather than trying to cut its way through. The results so far? Leads are up, traffic is up, and sales have met December’s forecasts. He plans to continue operating this way and says the agency’s next 90-day plan is to remove unnecessary operational expenses and reinvest that money in sales and marketing efforts. 

Kevin can be found on his agency’s website at: BayshoreSolutions.com or by email at: kevin@bayshoresolutions.com

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How to Build Community & Make Great Marketing Accessible

Erik Huberman, Founder and CEO, Hawke Media (Santa Monica, CA)

Erik Huberman is Founder and CEO of Hawke Media, an agency serving as “an outsourced CMO-level expert” which, Eric says, “puts client success ahead of our own.” The agency’s “SWOT team” identifies “holes” in a client’s marketing program and provides a “comprehensive à la carte menu of services and month-to-month contracts” to address those needs in a timely manner. Month-to-month works, Erik says, because the idea of signing a long-term contract with someone you have just met is like getting married to someone you’ve never even dated.”

When the agency started 6-1/2 years ago, the scope of services was relatively narrow – primarily e-commerce. In short order, Erik added content creation, production work, and web design. Last year, the agency purchased its first affiliate agency. Erik says that it was the -commerce community that built Hawke Media and e-commerce is still 70 percent of the agency’s business.

Today, customized, data-driven, performance-based solutions facilitate product launch, scaling, and business vitalization for a broad range of industries and business sizes. “Big” companies are responsible for only two percent of the agency’s revenues. 

Erik says his agency’s goal is to expand into 3 to 5 new territories this year. Rather than acquiring agencies or opening offices in new locations, Hawke hires talent in places “of interest.” When things in a particular area “start to open up,” the agency evaluates the kind of space they want . . . and if they want a space. New markets are selected based on market opportunity, cost of living. high concentration of ecommerce brands, SMBs, startup community, and agency saturation. He believes that TikTok, once it scrapes through the political issues, will be “one of the first things since Facebook and Instagram, to be a viable [and quite possibly great] advertising platform.”

Erik notes that building community is one of his agency’s core values. Hawkefest, an annual summit, has drawn 600 brand owners every year for the past 3 years. Since inception, the agency has sponsored weekly e-commerce Happy Hours, recently started fun bi-weekly Zoom events, and even more recently introduced a trivia night. The agency will partner with the city of LA to hose an e-commerce week starting September 28. 

Erik says that one thing he has learned over the years is that hiring and investing ahead of expected growth is “always a mistake.” Reacting to reality makes growth far more sustainable than proactively building for something that might or might not happen. Hiring and training executive talent is more difficult than hiring and training staff.

Hawke operates a venture fund that invests in marketing and e-commerce technology and e-commerce brands. E-commerce-related business doubled in Q2 of this year . . . both large businesses and small. Eric sees cellphone SNS (social networking service) marketing as a massive opportunity in the coming months, even more so than email.

Erik can be found on his agency’s website at https://hawkemedia.com/ or on any social media platform, including TikTok, @ or /ErikHuberman.