This is a follow up story for Up And Social. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 1 year ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
I am Scott Bishop, owner of Up and Social, a digital marketing agency in Boston. We focus on helping small businesses gain exposure online. We offer custom web design builds, search engine marketing, and social media management for construction companies, dentists, medical billing firms, fitness professionals, and other small businesses specializing in products or services to consumers.
Since the pandemic hit, business slowed down tremendously, but we’re happy to say that we’re still onboarding new clients and business is starting to pick back up. We’ve scaled to $30,000 per month since our last Starter Story.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
This year in particular has been very difficult. As I’m sure every business owner can attest, we’ve encountered a massive decline in revenue due to COVID-19 starting back in March of this year and continuing through these last several months. Our main focus has been to care for our current customers by offering virus-specific value points such as custom marketing campaigns to help our small business customers drive sales during this time. We’ve also put a heavy focus on delivering exceptional customer service with phone calls, service updates, one-on-one service, and more.
Building business in the midst of a pandemic has been extremely difficult. I’ve found myself putting 50% more energy into marketing efforts compared to before the pandemic started. We’ve also put more focus on customer acquisition by increasing our google advertising, following up with hot and cold leads, reaching out to previous customers, and creating pandemic specific sales.
We’ve also seen a considerable increase in our social media marketing efforts, specifically with Facebook advertising. We’ve positioned our current customers to do the selling for us by posting case studies and testimonials through a combination of ads and news feed stories. We’ve utilized Instagram stories and hashtags to build our brand and create exposure. I truly believe that due to these efforts, we’ve been able to maintain our sales and even see a bit of increase.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
My biggest lesson learned in the last year has been to utilize creativity and think outside the box in the face of adversity. When the pandemic hit, some of our clientele panicked and cut their marketing budgets. We then took a look at our own expenses and noticed we were paying for a lot of services we were no longer using. This now has me combing through our expenses every month and asking myself can we get by without this expense? However, we chose to increase our spending level in marketing efforts to acquire new customers in the current season. We’ve tried several different options such as Facebook and Instagram ads. What we found that’s worked well for us has been to write more website content and blogs to rank organically on Google. For keywords like Boston Web Design, Construction Web Design, etc.
Looking at our monthly projections during those first few months after COVID hit was frightening. But after putting some thought into it and coming up with creative ways to stay afloat I’ve learned that there’s always a solution to any problem and to keep an open mind to problem-solving. I truly believe that this concept is what saved my business. Had I just given up and let external circumstances define our success things would not have turned out favorably. What has come out of this new era has been a renewed sense of purpose for my business and a renewed sense of confidence in myself.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
In the upcoming year, I intend to engage in more marketing efforts to scale my business. I’m hoping to expand my business to new industries such as real estate and insurance. I’m excited that my business will play a major role in helping professionals in these industries stand out and get more exposure to grow their businesses. Through what we do at Up And Social, we’re making a huge difference for small businesses. it’s not about us, it’s about our small business clients and to know that we’re contributing to economic growth in this sector of the community is remarkable.
Try things on a small scale. See what works and what doesn’t. Whatever works, scale it. Whatever doesn’t, let it go.
In 5 years, I hope Up and Social will consummate our authority as digital marketing experts through speaking engagements and marketing panels. In addition, we’re hoping to launch a YouTube channel that will maximize our reach and create an information hub for small businesses looking to expand. With these efforts, we’re hoping to add another $10-$15k per month in revenue.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
Recently, I’ve been reading The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday. It’s about utilizing obstacles to find solutions. It’s a book that teaches you how to focus on the things you can control while overcoming challenges. It really gives you great insight into the core principles of being a great business owner. It teaches from the principles of ancient Greek Stoicism clearly drawing a parallel between obstacles and opportunities.
This book couldn’t have come at a better time for me as a business owner in the midst of this horrific pandemic. It reminded me to look at my challenges as opportunities instead of letting the challenges overwhelm me.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
For other entrepreneurs struggling to grow their business, I’d say to take small steps. If your goal is to increase revenue by 25%, start at 5% and work your way up from there. Try things on a small scale. See what works and what doesn’t. Whatever works, scale it. Whatever doesn’t, let it go. Give yourself the space to make mistakes. Owning a business is a learn-as-you-go activity. And there are no right answers. What works for other people may not work for you.
I have spent years comparing myself to others. What I’ve learned is that other people can’t define who I will be. Only I can do that, and I’m the best person that can speak to that. If small business owners would take this approach, I think we’d all be a lot happier and more successful.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’re not hiring at the moment, but that could change. Contact us on our website with your interest and we’ll see if there’s a good fit.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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