Sustainable SEM Growth is Rooted… in Your Dev Team?

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Andy Beal’s ever rising and evolving trajectory in the search marketing space has recently encompassed consulting to SEM firms. Most notably he’s worked with Jim Boykin and Rand Fishkin in this capacity.

A recent article of his has stirred some needed conversation amongst SEOs seeking rapid growth. While Andy’s written some about the importance of building an agency with scalability in mind, I felt it necessary to pull the reins a bit on the over exuberance I’ve seen surrounding his most recent article about how to add a million in revenue to your interactive agency.

We need FAR MORE FOCUS on sustainable growth.

I was at KeywordRanking as we grew exponentially in 2004, and I was there as we deflated due to, among other things, a lack of scalability starting in early-mid 2005.

By lack of scalability I mean too many (HUNDREDS OF) clients too quickly, inflexible process-before-client processes, lack of consistent, in-depth training, lack of staff, and lack of scalable software infrastructure to name a few.

It was this last piece that stood out the most starkly to me when I first joined the company in 2004.

I came from the WebProNews/iEntry publishing company where I was the chief editor and worked closely with our PHP developers to automate every stage of every process as deeply as possible.

It shocked me to enter a world where we emailed each other spread sheets.

A strong, internally-oriented development team that GETS SEM and automates your tools and processes is FUNDAMENTAL to sustainable growth. Put that foundation in place before you hire a PR firm and try to land your first Fortune 500 client.

Growth is wonderful, but if you grow before you understand your business well enough to create software that makes workflow and processes easy while leaving flexibility as the search marketing industry shifts towards social media and web PR work you’ll be right back where you started. Or possibly worse.

Resources:
Five Secret Strategies to Add $1 Million in Revenue to your Interactive Marketing Agency in 2007 (Andy Beal)
Andy Beal on Adding $1 Million to Next Year’s Revenue (Rand’s response to Andy)

About the Author

Garrett French educates SEO and PR teams on content and engagement-based link building strategies that drive targeted referral traffic and deliver SERP domination. Learn more about him and his services at CitationLabs.com.

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3 Comments

  1. Garrett, you're everywhere! ;-)

    Some good points and I plan on doing a series of articles that includes building a stable business. In the meantime, I touched on it in my first article.

    http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2006/09/top-10-business-mistakes-search.html

  2. Boris Mordkovich

    Garrett,

    Very interesting post. I think this is very applicable to most SEM firms out there - especially now where there seems to be more clients that experts.

    Boris

  3. Garrett French

    Hey Andy,

    I like to stay busy in my retirement ;)

    I'm looking forward to seeing how you work sustainable growth into your series for sure... and I linked to that article in the opening of the post homie! I know you're working it ;)

    Boris,

    I hadn't boiled it down to that but you're right. There's more work to be done than workers... For some reason I thought it was just us ;)

    Garrett