Note: The following lessons will transform your positioning in the minds of your target demographic.
I’m going to share the revelations that led to my career transition into the digital world. Often, we learn the most important lessons in life through experience. This isn’t going to be a run of the mill article where I try to sell you SEO services.
It’s not about me, or our company, it’s about sharing the journey that built my conviction. Digital marketing works because it’s based on human nature.
Basic human nature, our subconscious tendencies & biases, will influence every decision we make as consumers. Every encounter, in-person and online, has unique dynamics at play that can help you to strategize for the future if you pay close attention to detail.
So here’s my story:
I fell flat on my face into this industry, to be frank.
Before opening Darling, I was a 24-year old actress. Married to a new entrepreneur, and living in Hollywood (California). The bills were piling up, and even though I was appearing on TV and in commercials, I was completely broke.
Like broke, broke.
My husband left his job at Boeing just before we moved to California, and we were surviving on his new e-commerce store revenue, and odd acting jobs.
When the store faced regulation changes by the FDA, he decided to focus all of his attention on his passive income streams. He built several successful affiliate websites and taught me everything I know about the digital world.
THE PAST = THE FUTURE, UNLESS YOU STRATEGIZE
Both of us had earned college degrees – Computer Science for him, and International Business for me.
Before this major career shift, we’d had minor successes in the stock market, event planning, and on a cooking blog – but nothing tangible outside of the e-commerce store. We were millennials with nearly $50,000 in student loan debt and wanted to create something new and exciting. Something that would allow us to take massive action, impact the lives of others, & grow in the new age.
So after a couple of years of trial and error – we finished our lease in LA, packed up, and headed to Miami. We figured the cost of living and tropical climate provided the perfect amount of environmental motivation to expand as young entrepreneurs.
#1 GET SOME CRAZY EXPERIENCE BUYING/SELLING EXPENSIVE STUFF
Immediately after we moved to Miami, I took a contract sales job at a plastic surgery center that’d just opened.
I had no idea how to “sell” high-ticket items like boob jobs and Brazilian Butt Lifts but figured my background selling girl scout cookies, and cell phones at Sprint would come in handy. In the first 6-weeks, I went from making NO sales, to ten sales per day. I took phone calls as late as 10 pm at night because frankly, we needed the money. From the moment I received a new lead, I was a sales machine.
I upsold nose jobs and facelifts. Listened to countless stories about botched procedures in the Dominican Republic. And reassured patients who were dealing with serious depression as a result of having low self-esteem their entire lives.
It was actually pretty interesting stuff in hindsight.
I was the first person one of my patient’s told about her HIV diagnosis (certainly a life-changing experience). After her pre-surgery bloodwork came back HIV-positive, she immediately called me to see if she could still have a butt lift.
Lesson #1: This experience taught me that people will say one thing, and believe something completely different. To be successful online, you have to peer into a consumer’s soul and speak to the core beliefs that drive them to take action.
#2 SHIFT YOUR VALUES
When I started working with the center, there was so much room for improvement.
First, I wanted to improve conversion. Miami plastic surgery centers are notorious for being disorganized, low cost, and for lack of better words, “ghetto.” I created a short sales script, and a document to track follow-ups that I shared with the other salesgirls at the center.
We improved conversion by about 15% in 3 weeks by actually following up with patients & then tracking who we followed up with.
Lesson #2: Focusing on other people, specifically your customers, will massively increase your bottom line. Take a day to put yourself in their shoes, and map out their journey to your product or service. After all, once they find out about you and click onto your website, they’re already sold. Sure, some people like to shop around but disregard this. Your only focus should be on consumer seduction. If you can attract the right people, and keep them interested, they won’t look anywhere else for a solution.
#3 EFFICIENCY IS KEY
Next, I wanted to make the sales process efficient.
God forbid a patient experienced a complication because there was absolutely nobody available to handle such a call. The doctor was always in the off-site OR (we weren’t yet HIPAA certified at the center), and the only “nurse” at the center wasn’t technically trained.
She was a lovely Cuban girl with green eyes, who had been working in plastic surgery centers for years. This woman held things together pretty well given her background. She could take a patient’s blood pressure, comfort them, and answer the basic medical history & recovery questions – but she wasn’t a professional.
So I suggested hiring more staff to focus on patient retention.
After all, salespeople aren’t incentivized to nurture a patient after they’ve made a deposit. Salespeople should be focused on one thing, selling. If they’re overworked or improperly motivated, the whole business is going to suffer. Keeping your frontlines motivated is a tough task, and shouldn’t be ignored.
In a short time, I was their top seller. I remember crossing $42,000/month, and feeling so proud & emotionally fulfilled in the position. This screenshot was taken after one of my best months.
But eventually, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to scale my efforts.
Lesson #3: Delegation is a huge part of efficiency. Hire the right people for each role in your company. If you don’t have the right people, you can’t scale. If you turn the “right” person, into a jack-of-all-trades, it will be very difficult to scale. Each person you hire should be an expert at one thing. Each task requires specific expertise, and you will always get what you pay for online. Casting a wide net is not the solution.
#4 YOU MUST HAVE THEIR RESPECT
When the practice had just opened, income was the primary focus.
And I was a great fit for that.
The center needed sales, and I needed money. But after a while, there were 4 salesgirls working and we had filled the doctor’s calendar a year out. Patients began heading to other centers because the waitlist was so long, and eventually the doctor began raising prices.
Salespeople were expected to nurture patients, perform in-person exams, create & file EMRs, our ability to make more commission was capped, and everyone hated working there.
The girls began taking longer breaks and wasting perfectly good leads. I suggested a digital strategy to improve the flow of the practice. I’d seen it work with all of our personal & affiliate websites, and I knew having more advanced features on the website, along with an article repository of FAQs would simplify and reassure patients as they approached their surgery date.
But I’d poorly positioned myself in the beginning.
#5 DON’T WASTE TIME ON POORLY POSITIONED LEADS
This doctor drove a Maybach and had celebrity clientele at his private practice on Miami Beach. As a measly salesperson, my suggestions weren’t taken seriously. I was able to improve our initial conversion rate because the office manager had no clue what she was doing, and bit on any bone I threw out. After all, she was going to lose her job if sales didn’t pick up.
Consequently, I resigned and opened DARLING.
There’s nothing like the feeling of being stuck. Failing to reach your potential is a far worse feeling, than failing to make an effort. When you know exactly what to do, but don’t have the right people behind you, it feels like you’re selling your soul for comfort. Failing because you know exactly what to do, and don’t do it, is much worse than failing to try something you don’t know will work.
Lesson #5: The Authority Bias plays a huge role in neuropsychology. How you position yourself in the beginning, is how you will remain. If I wanted to reach my potential, I had to step out on faith in myself and do it the right way.
Don’t waste a second of your time on a poorly positioned opportunity. They’ll become a headache down the road, and entertaining their antics will make you look desperate.
Further, they’re much more likely to leave a negative review and no business can stand too many negative reviews this day in age. Gone are the days when the only negative reviews a lead could find were in the BBB. Today, services like Google, Yelp, Youtube, Amazon, Real Self, and others make it as easy as the click of a button to determine a business’ credibility.
There are many people searching online for exactly what you sell. Qualified and anxious customers will be more than happy to work with you if you position them correctly.
If you’ve missed a few opportunities in the past, don’t fret.
As Casanova would say, “Be the flame, not the moth.”
What is SEO?
According to Dictionary.com, search engine optimization is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.
OPTIMIZING YOUR SEARCHABILITY IN GOOGLE
Getting on the first page of Google is not easy, but it’s also not very hard. Your strategy should revolve around content and backlinks. If you publish enough content and have enough relevant & authoritative content linking back to your website, you WILL move up the ranks in Google search.
What Does SEO Mean?
A real marketing campaign means you’re invested in the expansion and visibility of your business.
That’s it. Unless expenses, investments pay off in the long run. If you’ve properly vetted the agency (and character) of the team you hired for SEO, your investment will pay off in the long run. Just not in 30 days.
If anyone tells you this, run for the hills.
We’ve acquired countless clients who were accustomed to paying $500/month for marketing with either a large firm or freelancer. In the industry, we call these large corporations “churn systems.” They don’t operate on feasible profit margins to generate the kind of results they promise. When we transition a new client from one of these firms, we have to call their account rep and get a breakdown of all the services the client is paying for.
These services are usually overpriced for what they’re offering, ie. $50/month hosting – hosting costs around $200/year.
However, a 55-year-old surgeon won’t know the difference, and $500/month sounds like a lot less than $3,000/month.
I have never seen an itemized breakdown, with highly-skilled or valued services, from one of these firms.
Does SEO Work?
That’s probably not what you wanted to hear but it’s the truth. When you invest in an IRA or a piece of real estate, you’re investing with hopes of making a profit in the long-run. These aren’t risky investments like bitcoin, but there’s still some risk involved.
SEO works the same way.
If you hire an agency that knows what they’re doing, you have very little to worry about. Sure, Google could disappear off the face of the Earth tomorrow, but is that likely, NO!
There’s always room to invest more, but as a baseline, don’t plan on paying less than $1,500/month for at least 6 months to see results. I would be suspicious of any agency charging less as the average link costs about $300. To compete, you’ll need at least 3-6 links per month. And that’s not including content published on your website, optimizing pages, guest post outreach, or labor.
You could certainly hire an agency that charges $5,000/month that does a crappy job.
However, that’s unlikely because most agencies that charge a lot and do a poor job won’t stay in business very long.
Most cases of failed SEO efforts are the result of:
- Setting Poor Expectations
- Not Enough Investment
Other scenarios like inadequate search volume, or “negative” SEO are rare. Most SEO agencies want to do a good job so they stay in business. If there’s not enough search volume, you’re probably not in an industry where SEO is a feasible marketing strategy. You may not be making enough money to hire a marketing agency, and they shouldn’t want to sell you a package either.
If someone is doing a crappy job, you’ll probably get a few phone calls or foreign emails – you should have a website audit performed immediately when this happens.
A Note on Failing
For most of my life, I gauged my success by the amount of approval received from other people. If they told me I was pretty, or they were proud, I was like a crackhead taking a hit. At age 22, I moved from Missouri to California. That’s when my youthful stupidity ended abruptly.
Family members were dying each month it seemed, and I had to learn to stand on my own because mommy and daddy weren’t in a position to help me from afar.
Then at 24, I did it again. Packed up an moved to Miami, flat broke.
There is an ancient proverb that says ‘we must learn to be wise like the snake and shed our skin over and over again.’
I wasn’t sure why I was doing this “shedding,” but each time I felt lighter and one step closer to my goals.
Shortly after moving to LA, I was surrounded by extremely beautiful and insanely talented people. I had to embrace being to “no” hundreds of times.
Accepting my failure was the only way to be successful. Again, in Miami, I left a lucrative sales job and started from the bottom of my own company.
You will probably fail at online marketing once or twice before getting it right. Does that mean it doesn’t work, or won’t work for you? Absolutely not. When the time is right, you’ll pick the right team and it WILL work. Persevere through the drama, and you’ll reap the rewards.
But consider this – There ARE businesses like yours on the front page of Google right now, yes?
Do you believe that businesses on the front page of Google get leads?
Would it be fair to say that they took a certain specific set of actions to get there?
Of course! There is a finite set of actions that get you to the front page. If you take those actions, you will get the results you desire and your business will grow.