I Grew My Business To $100K/Year Through Referrals

Published: September 5th, 2021
Michael Krieger
Prime Marketing E...
from Burlington, MA, USA
started January 2017
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Hello! Who are you, and what business did you start?

I’m Michael Krieger, the founder, and president of Prime Marketing Experts, which is a full-service digital marketing agency. A lot of clients come to us when they are just starting a business, or needing to redesign their website, or get specialized digital marketing solutions to get to the next level of their business. Therefore, we offer a wide variety of digital marketing solutions, including SEO, PPC, social media solutions, email marketing, text messaging solutions, marketing automation, and content marketing.


Most recently, we have expanded into sales consulting services where we maximize the ROI of our digital marketing services. The future is bright thanks to the great partnerships with clients and marketing technology companies we have developed.

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea of your agency?

My entrepreneurial journey started as a child when my uncle bought a share of Disney stock for my birthday. I really took a lot of interest in following the trends of their business and seeing how they have built their brand over time. After a few years, I then started reading a lot of books about the stock market and owning my own business, which is how I then got the passion to start my own business, which prompted me to pursue a Master of Innovation and Technological Entrepreneurship. I received a good base of digital marketing knowledge and how it specifically applies to turning an idea into a full-fledged business through my studies.

Pursue your passion - it will only help you get through the challenging days to make your business successful.

After attempting to start a bank comparison website and then a staffing agency, I then co-founded Health Innovators, a healthcare nonprofit organization. Throughout that time, I then also got passionate about the dynamic nature of marketing and website building, as I was also doing digital marketing consulting jobs on the side and largely taking a marketing role within Health Innovators. Throughout time, I continuously studied the latest marketing strategies but decided to first start branded as End Business Consultants. Consistent with the feedback I received, my passion for marketing, and the fact that most of our demand was within marketing services we did offer, we decided to rebrand into Prime Marketing Experts.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing Prime Marketing Experts.

Our startup costs were very minimal as we just paid for a shared co-working office for $159/month, the MA LLC filing fee of $520, and a website hosting plan for $15/month. Originally, we started as “End Business Consultants” as we tried to specialize in helping other businesses buy and sell their business. In essence, it was a very challenging niche to service, especially with the varying motivations of why business owners would sell their business and how we would match them up with individuals who want to buy a business.

Through operating my business, I came to realize that people typically demanded digital marketing and website development services even as they do not plan to buy or sell a business with us. I also realized that people misinterpreted our business name as they typically believed we helped our clients end businesses, while the true intent is that we helped end the negativity that may occur when owning a business and provide infinity success (an infinity sign above the letters “end” was our logo).

We then departed from that niche and restructured our business to service all businesses in services that they typically demand, and rebranded into Prime Marketing Experts, which helped us set the foundation to grow our company. That particularly shifted our focus to be a digital marketing agency for all niches, with our primary services being web development and SEO. We pride ourselves on being great at SEO, as we always believed it’s crucial to develop great leadership in this space. After all, it is in essence the lowest cost of customer acquisition, and you can easily validate that you are good at it by showing how your business ranks for a few main keywords. Most recently, we expanded that focus to include sales consulting services to make sure that we can support customers through the entire customer buying journey.

Describe the process of launching the business.

I took the tactic of developing my business grassroots. When I started the business, I was well-networked, so I knew where to go if I needed help, but wanted to control my costs. I relied on my best friend, Nathan Salem of Echo Cleaning, to supply the first few sales, and I am eternally grateful for him doing so. In return, I have supported his cleaning business in maintaining his website, blogging, and SEO.

We pride ourselves in being great at SEO, as we always believed it’s crucial to develop great leadership in this space.

The business has grown over 4 years, but growth has accelerated so far this year thanks to a lot of the investments we were able to make to improve our own business development initiatives and improve the service quality we offer to our clients.

Therefore, I never got into debt but used credit cards as a way to control my expenses through getting rewards rather than using them as funding as a way to build my business. While I have a business line of credit that I can tap into on a rainy day or as a way to bridge funding to service a large client, I have not had to use this as our cash flow has covered our cash needs to service larger clients.

In turn, this speaks volumes of our sustainability in getting through challenging times, such as overcoming our challenges in local businesses initially pulling back on their digital marketing services. However, we have continually reinvested in our capabilities, and have introduced new eCommerce solutions as they have arisen in the market to better serve our clients’ needs. For example, we have recently begun offering an all-in-one POS system for restaurants that enables online ordering that automatically routes to on-demand delivery companies (Uber Eats and DoorDash). In turn, it helps restaurants reach delivery customers in a way they can make money from it as they dynamically route orders to these delivery platforms while paying a $1.50 per order cost, rather than a 30% referral fee. It also features self-service ordering, which helps service labor issues that restaurants currently have.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Initially, I grew my business through referrals and by attending business networking groups. However, I have taken great pride in being a product of my own product, which has meant that an increasing level of business has originated from SEO and social media. Quite particularly, we have a great focus on Instagram as we have built amongst the highest engagement accounts of the 20 competitive digital marketing agencies that we track. We also run Bing Ads to acquire customers for our company, which we favor as it offers a 30% cheaper cost per click when compared to Google. In addition, we successfully run Influencer campaigns to amplify our SEO and social media efforts.

We just retain our customers for longer than the average 6-month lifespan of an average digital marketing agency customer by offering them honest and high-quality service. We pride ourselves in supporting smaller marketing technology vendors who often offer cutting-edge capabilities to our company at pricing we can’t refuse.

We have gotten smarter throughout time and track how visitors browse our website, and by tracking what keywords drive inbound leads and new sales, so we can refocus our SEO services on what works.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

While we have been profitable from day 1, we have grown profitability until the pandemic started. Although the pandemic ended up being a setback that brought the business to a loss last year due to the number of investments we had to make, our business is now fueled by growth opportunities that have made the growth trajectory stronger than it has ever been. We have managed to grow our business by doubling down on the same SEO strategies we deploy for our clients, and the “return to normal” from the pandemic has offered us additional opportunities to grow and get new customers.

We have traditionally been a geographic agnostic business, but we have most of our customers throughout the Boston area. Though, we have decided to expand by adding offices in select cities where we see opportunities for growth and talent to support it, which has diversified the geography of our customer base.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Throughout the years, I have learned that it is important to build a team. I can’t do everything myself and I must have a diversified skill set throughout my team to provide the best service to customers. I also need to build a solid customer base, which means that I need to have clients commit to a 6 or 12-month contract. In our business, some customers can cause issues since it takes advertising and SEO campaigns 3-4 months before they are optimized, and it can take longer for highly competitive niches. When we have people commit to contracts, we help clients understand it is for the good of their own business. We reiterate that we have dedicated staff that will take care of their campaigns every step of the way.

Thankfully, we have two salespeople that work for our company and our growth has accelerated due to what they bring to the table. I am much more of a digital marketer and project manager than a salesperson, and it has relieved stress in the process. I guide them to be successful and empower them to find the best style for them to be successful.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We have many tools that we use for our business to provide the best service, but here are a few of our favorites:

PromoRepublic: Using PromoRepublic is just like seeing Hootsuite getting married to Canva. The tool also calculates the best times to post for leading social media platforms based on past engagement data to ensure that each post is as impactful as possible.

MarketMuse: This tool has allowed us to dramatically improve the SEO benefit that we offer to our content marketing customers. This means that we can write website content and blog articles in a way where we know exactly what keywords should be included and how long they should be.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Rich Dad Poor Dadwas the most influential book for me as that inspired me to start my own business in the first place. It is one of the easiest reads due to the engaging and soft tone it is written in, which only impacted how I was influenced by it.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?

I would first pursue your passion as that will only help you get through the challenging days to make your business successful. Once you get that out of the way, design your exact offering and then develop a business plan that will outline how you will make money from it and develop it into a full-fledged business.

I often see many people in business either being too impatient or not investing enough money in accomplishing the goals they want to accomplish. If you are just scrimping by, you may want to think about saving some more money over time, partnering with others, or running a crowdfunding campaign to properly launch and give you the best chances at your business being viable for many years to come.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We are looking to hire sales representatives, web developers, SEO/PPC marketers, and project managers.

Where can we go to learn more?