David Sonn is the Founder and President of Arc Intermedia, a HubSpot certified, digital only agency that focuses on “customer acquisition using digital strategies and digital tactics.”
David ran a web development company for 13 years but found that he and his partner had become “production monkeys,” delivering a commodity and competing with offshore developers. “You never want to sell or have to build a model based on price,” he says.
Ten years ago, when people started requesting Search Engine Optimization, David found his niche. Intrigued by the ability to precisely measure results, he founded Arc Intermedia -- and got out of the website building business and into the business of building businesses.
David may have started his agency “really slow and really small,” but he didn’t start “really cheap.” He hired the most experienced SEO and paid search experts he could find, people who could lead practice area development. He says, “When you’re a somewhat small agency that we are, every person counts.” Hiring and investing in the right people is critically important.
In this interview, David provides a wide range of tips on building a strong digital business.
Marketing initiatives need to start with strategy. When clients try to tell Arc Intermedia what they want the agency to do, David says it is critically important to understand “the good, the bad, and the ugly” about that business, to get to know the client well enough to discover things of which even the client may be unaware, and to know the client’s goals – what the client is trying to accomplish – before building the strategy and implementing the strategically determined tactics.
As many people in marketing say, content is king. Marketers need to know how to leverage that content through SEO, distribution, credibility, and across social platforms.
While a variety of tactics can be used get leads, to drive people to a website, to fill out a form, to give them “stuff,” people often resist filling out forms because they don’t want the sales calls that immediately follow. David recommends giving people something of value in exchange for their personal information.
The key to building customer relationships is nurturing potential clients through broad exposure on a variety of platforms and providing a variety of (non-sale) interactions. Use marketing automation to nurture clients to help close the deal.
Clients often come to Arc Intermedia and request adding a particular tool, such as SEO, to their marketing mix. David reminds us that today’s digital marketing requires an integrated process to succeed. SEO, social presence, publication on an industry website or blog . . . these things “loosen the soil” and build the familiarity and credibility that makes a paid search or display ad work.
Customer acquisition is what “moves the needle for the bottom line of a company.” Paid search has evolved to a high level of sophistication. Precise targeting produces a wealth of data. Advertising on social platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – should be backed by “great strategy.” Knowing when to pivot, why you need to pivot, and having the ability to pivot is critical.
David describes paid search as a “sprint,” and SEO as a “marathon.” He feels that it is important for both parties to set their expectations realistically about what’s going to be accomplished when. He requires SEO contracts to be for at least 12 months – SEO takes that long to show a return. After a year, when he shows clients where they were in month zero and what has been accomplished in the year that followed, “the contracts basically renew themselves.” SEO on paid media optimized for terms and topics in high demand? He says, “It’s infinite traffic if you do it correctly.”
David can most easily be found on his agency’s website at arcintermedia.com.
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