Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions from me today.
I first heard about you at the Chiang Mai SEO conference in 2017, in fact, I met you very briefly before you presented. Rather embarrassingly I asked if you were a speaker!
Since then I have used your agency SEO Butler and have been really happy with the quality of the services you provide. You have recently announced a website update is about to roll out.
I got to catch up with you at the networking event you organised at this year’s Chiang Mai SEO Conference for a proper introduction.
So, let’s jump into some questions.
1. Can you give us some background on where you’re from and have you got into this industry?
I was born and raised in Berlin, Germany. But today, many people find it hard to believe that English is not my first language.
My journey into the world of marketing has been an interesting one.
I left school early and moved to India (this was back in 2006) and while being out there I dedicated my time towards learning rudimentary web development skills. In 2006 that meant flash design, and to anyone that remembers those days, you know how horrendous those skills would have been.
I quickly learnt that my speciality wasn’t in fulfilment but rather in management and business development.
After leaving India, I was headhunted by a global usability testing company called Human Factors International and quickly went from an account executive role to Director of Sales Europe.
I enjoyed my time there and learnt the skills it would take to work with large corporate businesses. Some of my clients there included American Express, Fujitsu, and Bosch.
My next venture was a physical security company in the UK. I will spare you the details, but I sold contracts and closed the company in Jan of 2015 after founding what would become SEOButler today.
Late 2014 a friend and I were analysing the SEO industry and we’re trying to understand where we could find an edge over other companies.
We happened to find a few quickly growing Facebook communities, and one thing was consistent – people had huge issues with fulfilment. Our first venture was born!
We started by managing Filipino content writers and having content proofread by American university students. Within just a few weeks we would get orders worth hundreds of articles.
The rest is history!
2. Your agency based in Brighton, SEOButler provides a number of supporting SEO services (content, PR, social signals, citations). What made you focus on providing services instead of developing products and leveraging your skills on these?
From day one of this enterprise, I realised that our superpower is in managing fulfilment.
The SEO industry is an especially demanding arena.
The consistent’s are short turnaround times, restricted budgets and high expectations of quality.
By developing processes to fulfil these services at scale, we were able to find our competitive edge. Add an obsession for customer service to the mix and you have the recipe for success of SEOButler.
That being said, we do have an agency and work with medium-sized local businesses, as well as larger national accounts, for their marketing requirements.
3.Congratulations on your 4-year anniversary by the way. I know you have grown from a small team to a massive team based around the world. Did this happen organically or part of a grand plan?
Thank you so much, Adam!
4 years in, we are now a team of over 60 full-time and part-time team members across 3 continents and countless time-zones.
The truth is that while I am a neurotic planner, a lot of the growth has been thanks to our incredible client base, who relentlessly recommends us.
There is a lot to be said about the journey though, maybe too much to talk about here in detail.
But let me say this, starting a business isn’t easy, growing one consistently year over year for a prolonged period of time doubly so. People imagine that you will go from strength to strength, while in reality running a business is mostly about problem-solving. And the bigger your business, the bigger your problems. 🙂
It’s the challenge of the entrepreneur, part of the narrative of playing the infinite game is to never get distracted by the “small things”.
I believe our recipe to success is simple;
It’s all about the people.
Great team members build great businesses. And we have the greatest team members one can ask for.
4. Last year at CMSEO2017 you presented the challenges of managing a global staff base and keeping on track. Do you have advice for other solopreneurs considering scaling their manpower?
Solopreneurs need to decide what their edge is. And then they should focus on that.
Let me explain.
If you are a damn good salesperson, with only a decent understanding of SEO, I would highly recommend finding either a supplier (like SEOButler 😉 ) or a number two that can fulfil your work.
The problem is that solopreneurs try to do everything, and by doing trying to do everything, they end up NOT doing the one thing they are actually really good at.
I would recommend hiring passionate, driven people. Don’t focus on skills exclusively.
A passionate person will work harder, learn faster, and be loyal than a demotivated, highly-skilled person will ever be.
Show empathy and try to actually understand your team members. If hiring abroad, get off your ass and visit them, learn about their culture – you won’t regret it.
And last but not least, don’t undervalue yourself and don’t undervalue your team.
I will never understand why marketers want to charge $3000 per month on a retainer, but only pay out $500 a month for their team members. There seems to be a disconnect in this sort of thinking.
5. What resources do you use to stay on top of this fast-moving industry?
Mostly the technicians in my team. There are quite a few brilliant minds in our business that are obsessed with the changes and movements of the SEO world.
One person would be hard-pressed to stay on top of it all, so we all do our part!
6. How do you see SEObutler growing in the next 3-5 years?
I am glad you ask! We have been working very hard on our brand new website which launched just a few weeks ago.
The redesign was not just a cosmetic one, but also a move that allowed us to reposition.
We are going to be moving more and more into the SAAS space with our offering, with our SEO Campaign Manager launching super soon. This is going to allow marketers to plan their entire campaign on our website itself, and even use recommended templated campaigns from industry legends.
We are obsessed with quality, so we want to create a lot of helpful, and for the most part, free tools that help marketers improve the quality of their campaigns.
7. I have recently put up my bucket list of goals and achievements yet to accomplish. Do you have any professional or even personal ambitions yet to achieve?
Oh man, so many!
I want to speak at more events. Public speaking is one of the great skill sets I hope to master over the course of the next half of my life. It is a challenge I enjoy, and I want to speak at more events and conferences to continue developing my skills and this craft. I know there’s a lot of work ahead of me with this goal, but I’m more than up for the challenge.
I believe that thanks to my somewhat unorthodox introduction to marketing, I am able to speak to some of the problems entrepreneurs are encountering on a daily basis. And exactly that is a great passion of mine!
Professionally, we are starting to lay the groundwork to open the USA based, full-time SEOButler office. It’s one of our great ambitions to have a secondary western base, and I can’t wait to unveil the full plans once they are ready.