This is a follow up story for GoEdison. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 1 year ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
My name is Joel Allen and I’m the current CEO of GoEdison. We’re a small business digital marketing agency located in Denver, CO, and Nashville, TN. Well, I run the company from Nashville but my team is in Denver. We serve small businesses across the country from the east coast to the west coast.
GoEdison sells quality marketing and advertising, primarily for lead generation through efficient pay-per-click advertising, straightforward cold email marketing, website creation, and management, all with an accountable approach. I could say we’re full service because I have an incredibly talented team that can make anything happen, but we try to focus on our bread(s) and butter(s) and just become the best-in-class at those things. Our clients are small business owners or general managers, typically in a local service space, looking for quality marketing and lead generation. We provide that. I encourage our clients to hold us accountable because this industry is laced with terrible marketing agencies just looking for an outrageous retainer fee.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
So, I actually bought the then 4-year-old GoEdison from the founders James Davis and James Harper (which you can read about from their 2 different perspectives here or here) on November 13, 2019, for my first venture into business ownership. If you’re keeping score, that’s less than 4 months from the start of a global pandemic that hit our target market very hard: small local businesses. However, through the last 11 months, I’m proud to say that we were able to maintain the progress GoEdison’s founders had built to that point, and in early 2021 we’re poised to grow and grow well in 2021. Considering who our clients are, I consider it a ‘win’ to be pretty level with where we were one year ago.
Since I took over, our focus has been on two main areas: internal sophistication and client retention. Client retention has always been a strong point for GoEdison, but we had to double down on it because of the pandemic hammering our clients.
As for our own sophistication methods, we’re working on improved reporting while explaining to our clients what’s important in their report and why. We’ve completely reimagined our website this year, and it will continue to be a work in progress. We’ve consolidated our client email marketing platforms down to 1. We’ve added more robust competitor analysis tools. We’ve put together professional, researched pitches for upselling current clients (rather than just verbally pitching an idea). And we’ve added excellent branding partners to support our services.
From a sales perspective, we’ve honed in on a LinkedIn organic sales strategy with some outside help, and we’ve identified a couple of industry niches to focus our efforts. More specifically, we are selling to essential-type businesses that we’ve already had success with and helps us stay in the game despite any shutdowns. We are doubling down on LinkedIn for our clients as well, and developing marketing/sales strategy blends for our B2B marketing.
There is a lot more we’re looking to add in 2021-2022 and I am excited to report back with what’s new and fresh!
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
I’m a big believer in moving forward and learning quickly, but not dwelling. Certainly, the biggest elephant in any room this year is Covid-19 and its impact on your business. While I could go on about its ‘negative’ impact and how we navigated it specifically, instead I’ll just say this: I’m thankful for its impact on me as a business owner.
Work well and efficiently for 4 hours rather than non-stop and sporadically for 9. I can 100% promise that it will be more effective.
As I mentioned before, I acquired a small business; I didn’t bootstrap it from the ground up. I had to get my feet wet quickly to maintain the goodwill baked in from the founders’ efforts. I anticipated that much. But I did not anticipate it in the way 2020 laid it out for me, and I think it helped me grow into my role way faster than otherwise. I could have tried to ride the wave of the profitability I acquired for a year while slowly getting my rhythm, but I didn’t have time for that in 2020 (nor is that a good strategy!).
I learned that, in slow times, you need to double down on your current clients and that slow times are an opportunity to grow. How? By investing in your company internally (i.e. the new website, bringing on a new VA, finding and investing in new tools, etc.). It’s growth, just not by revenue. Learn new practitioner skills as the owner that you can handle in a pinch or if times continued to get worse. Plan what you would do in a recession (more likely) or God-forbid, another pandemic: how you would stay afloat, what resources you would need to collect now, and what type of customer you could target during those times. Take the time to think and plan a vision. There are blessings in the quiet.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
I really want GoEdison to do 1 of 2 things, and I’m still identifying them, to be honest. Either go full-on into one or two niche industries or create sub-brands for niches we like and serve well. The sub-branding route is obviously the more expensive, but it can be really valuable for your own sales and marketing.
In some ways, we’re still bootstrapping the growth to get to the point where we can invest in some supportive branding and also, new hires. I’d like to add 1-2 more employees this year to help us specifically in SEO and Client Management.
This all plays into a sort of general 5-year plan of being a major marketing force for our niche, nationally, and having our own built-out office space. I guess I’m kind of zagging when everyone is zigging into remote work. There’s a TON of value in having everyone in the same, great space, working together and bouncing thoughts off each other, while more cohesively working on larger projects. Managing a team remotely has a lot of challenges, despite the many tools available now, and will never replace collaborative in-person work.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
The only podcast I’ve listened to recently that I could recommend is marketing-focused and called State of Demand Gen, by the CEO of Refine Labs, Chris Walker. Now, typically using podcasts as an escape into sports or history. However, this one in particular has helped open my mind to new techniques and new metrics to use for our clients. They serve a different customer than we do with different services, but the conversations are out of the box and have sort of allowed me as a digital marketer to think outside of the classic channels and metrics we so strongly hold onto. I need that permission sometimes because my mind seeks to move beyond the tried and true.
If you’re a leader, then you need to check out Monday Morning Leadership by David Cottrell. It’s an easy and quick read that outlines several leadership sessions used by the author. I haven’t read it in a few years, but it’s literally in my bag right now because I need a refresher.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
If I could give one piece of advice, it’s something I’ve sort of touched on already. We hear “hustle, hustle, hustle” and it gives off this vibe that you need to be running around, making cold calls, creating spreadsheets, buying tools, and trying to make connections left and right. I say slow down a little. Create quality work, in quick time increments. What I mean is, work well and efficiently for 4 hours rather than non-stop and sporadically for 9. I can 100% promise that it will be more effective.
I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I have 2 kids under 2 years old. Our second was born during the pandemic. Working from home, Covid shutting down childcare (or it’s just really expensive), and having a wife that works has all created a huge requirement for flexibility with me and my time and energy. So I don’t work from 9 am-5 pm. I work 9:45am-11:00am, and then 11:52am-2:18pm, and then maybe not until 7:30pm-9:30pm. Yet, somehow I’m making it happen. The difference is that those times are spent on high priorities, efficient calls, and quality work. Not quantity. Slow down and be better. Then you can speed up what you’ve honed.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’re not currently hiring, but always looking for talent so that we’re ahead when we do need to hire.
Where can we go to learn more?
- Our website
- Facebook Page
- Instagram handle
- LinkedIn page or my page, which is more active and I have more tidbits
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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