As of this writing, Perfect Search Media, the digital marketing agency I founded way back in 2010, is eight years old. And business is as complicated as ever.
Sometimes, I reminisce about the good old days when my naivety made business easier. Eight years ago, we only cared about two things: doing good work and clients paying us. Now, we obviously still care about those things--but things have gotten more complicated. Still, that sheer focus reminds me of what matters in the end.
As I was reflecting on how things have changed over the past eight years, I compiled a list of five elements that stood out to me.
1) Our website
This work of art has gone through many iterations over the years. Whenever we talk about what our website used to look like, it feels like we’re bringing up our old hairstyles or clothing choices from the 90’s.
I remember our first website cost us a whole $600. Now, it’s a different story. Every time we update the site, it requires a lot of opinions and resources. Our team is constantly tweaking it, analyzing it, and redesigning it. This has been a worthwhile investment since it’s allowed our brand to evolve and reflect how we’ve changed as an agency. I’m especially fond of our custom images, baby pictures, and team video.
2) Our internship program
Ah, I remember the days when the majority of individuals who applied got the coveted internship role. Unfortunately, we were a bit disorganized. We didn’t have comprehensive processes in place to thoroughly train interns.
Today, it’s a different story. We have a thorough interview process and scout out career fairs to find the best talent. Our team has put together a stellar SEO & PPC training program that gives every intern a well-rounded digital marketing foundation. The program is carefully planned with a welcome lunch, training, check-ins, mock calls, and social events.
3) Our office
To be totally frank, the very first Perfect Search office might just be me taking my laptop to Oak Street Beach in Chicago. Then, we had a smaller (but less sandy) office on Hubbard Street in River North.
Now, we have 5,300 beautiful square feet in River North on Ohio Street. Since we moved here a few years ago, our team has put a lot into customizing the space and making it our own. We have a mural, a ping-pong table, fitness equipment, snacks and drinks for days, and too many large TVs.
4) Our sales process
Back when I started Perfect Search, I didn’t really think about clients canceling. I just thought we’d get a client, then another, then another...and this business thing was super easy. It’s safe to say I was mistaken.
Still, we grew. And now, we put a tremendous amount of effort into our sales process. We’ve put together sales decks, gathered testimonials, crafted case studies, researched our sales triggers, and more. Building our sales process and sales team is something we’re always tweaking and revamping since it’s so integral to our growth as a company.
5) Our tools & technology
True story: I remember making our very first invoice in a Word document. It wasn’t super sleek, but it was still paid.
Now, as our team, our client list, and our expertise has expanded, so has our tool base. We’ve picked up internal tools like Slack, Basecamp, Salesforce, Apollo, and Grasshopper. As for client-facing tools, our team uses AdWords Power Editor, seoClarity, SEMrush, VWO, and more.
Over the past eight years, I’ve learned more about business than all of my previous years. I’m grateful for all the growth we’ve made and I wouldn’t have it any other way. (I do miss the beach sometimes, though.)