Exploring the World of Digital Marketing - An Expert’s Insights
Today in our podcast, we are lucky to have the CEO of SunHouse Marketing, an outstanding digital marketing agency. She started very young as an assistant at her family’s public relations firm. Since then, she continued to hone her knowledge and skills to achieve excellence in her craft.
This interview provides us with a glimpse of her life as an accomplished service business owner whose experience has helped many clients achieve their goals. Since 2009, she and her team have provided assistance through marketing strategies that are truly excellent and exceptional.
Let us get to know Fran Jakubowicz, and be enriched by her insights and thoughts on running a digital marketing agency.
What is your business and what do you do?
We started as a full-service, digital marketing agency. For the last several years we have honed our efforts and established our area of expertise in lead generation. Our job is not just to generate qualified leads, but to help the company to close those leads quickly.
Tell me about your clients and the type of industries that use your service.
We have a broad range of clients – we work in technology, health care, finance, and in the legal space. Our client base is divided into B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer). Technology companies are usually B2B, while legal, finance, and healthcare are in B2C.
Usually, we have clients in the hospital business such as cosmetic surgeons, weight loss clinics, law firms, accounting firms, and financial organizations.
What inspired you to go into this kind of business?
I guess I was born into this kind of business. My dad ran a very successful PR firm in Canada and, as a teenager, I would go and hang out at his office. I worked for him during the summer and after school. It was there that I learned how to write press releases. I went to events and helped him support his clients. I have been doing this business for 30 years now.
How did you cope with the change to digital marketing?
I started in traditional marketing and public relations. As the digital age progressed, we transitioned into digital marketing. It was very natural for me to go into it.
Since there was no formal education process on how to go about digital marketing, it was an exciting time for me. I had a learn-as-you-go experience.
How did you start your own business?
I was working in a large non-profit organization as director of digital marketing while my husband was working in a technology company. We both lost our jobs during the market crash in 2008 or 2009. What we thought was a disaster turned out to be a blessing because a week later, I was able to open my company. There was so much demand in the market at that time.
During that one week that my husband and I were both looking for a job, people heard that I was available for opportunities and work. While I was previously working in the organization, I had established a good reputation and a following, so many people knew me.
What was interesting was that I had a growing social media following that had me start tackling one project after another.
My husband encouraged me to start a company, and I was not so into it at first. However, things began to get busier for me so I asked him to help me with my work. So that’s how our business started.
I had never run a business before. I had managed a team before but it is very different when it is your own company. I made so many mistakes in that first year, but somehow, we got through that with a lot of perseverance.
What was the biggest lesson you learned as you go on with your business?
At first, I relied on others to take care of my finances. As my business was growing slowly, I learned that I should be working with a better accountant who can support my business growth. The hard lesson I learned was taking a big loan to pay my taxes. I made sure that I didn’t have to repeat the same mistake.
Also, I had to learn to be financially educated, to take ownership, and to surround myself with smart people.
As soon as I was on my own, I had to get organized and be professional. I was responsible for business development, human resources, self-promotion, and even the cleanliness of our office space. As a business owner, I was responsible not only for myself but for my staff as well.
In a business, you have to create processes to build a system where collaboration is streamlined. It is not just the processes for the actual work that you are doing for your client, but also the processes of how you look at the way you do things internally. Doing these things helps you to reduce the pitfalls.
Tell me about your experience in hiring people.
During my first year in business, I had a friend who worked with me. There was no strategy or plan on how to do it. By the second year, I started to do a proper interview process, along with other activities that we hire the right people. We started using a checklist of activities for them. We provided training videos and in-house training, too. These processes are continuously being refined and updated as our business continues to grow and expand.
I want to ask you about work-life balance. How do you actively approach it?
When you are a professional, you are driven to make money to support your family. My ultimate goal is to provide a good life for the people I love. After all, they are the most important investment.
As I matured as a business professional, I have learned to work smart and more effectively so that I can have a work-life balance. I run a non-profit organization and other companies. A lot is going on so I have to make every second of my day count.
I also ensure that I build into my day what is important to me – and that is my family. I make sure that we spend quality time together. I try to disconnect from work and be present. I was not good at that before, but now I am trying to be better than I was before. Removing myself from my business environment for a while is okay.
When I got really sick, I learned about work-life balance the hard way. It is really true that health issues take most of our time and energy. I realized that there is a time and a place when I need to shift away from work and focus on what’s going on with my life. Being sick had me disconnected from work, but it enriched my appreciation for the people in my life.
People sometimes feel that if they don’t work 12 hours a day, everything is going to fall apart. That is not true, especially if you are working smart and creating systems. These things will be able to help the business run successfully on its own.
How do you get your clients?
It is not natural to self-promote, at first, I was uncomfortable about it, but now that good things are happening – awards and client testimonials – these make people hire me as opposed to the other agencies.
I have an advantage because I run a marketing agency so I can run my digital lead-generation campaigns. I have processes in place to help clients generate business. But on top of the paid acquisition strategies that I integrate into my process, I have social proof – people talking about my company in a positive light.
To get clients, you should showcase your expertise - reach out to social media and see if you can submit an article about your area of expertise in your space. Ensure that all your social profiles are fully optimized so that you look good on social media. Take professional photos of yourself and use them because that is the only way that people can assess you.
I tell my clients that they can promote their company on social media platforms. Creating their content and utilizing search engine optimization (SEO), Google ads, and landing pages are things that generate qualified leads to their space. But some clients, like a lawyer, for instance, know that they can’t always be great marketers. They need someone to help them share their content. That is where our company expertise comes in.
There are basic things that you should be doing. Be active on social media, utilize all your social profiles, optimize your website properly, include yourself in relevant business directories, and make sure that your articles and videos are all optimized so that when people search for you on Google, no one else with a similar sounding name shows up. Take advantage of Google Business Profile because it is an effective tool for you to be known.
What advice would you give someone who is not yet ready to hire a marketing company but would like to increase their exposure on social media?
Do market research. Check out how other competitors are doing. Of course, you don’t want to copy them because you want to stand out, you should make something better, or you can do something better.
As I have said before, your social profiles should be fully optimized. Also, do some outreach on LinkedIn. I suggest getting a sales navigator. It is a great tool to help you hone in on the companies you want to reach.
Share interesting content with people. Start engaging with their content and you can see an excellent response. Share what you know about their space, with no strings attached – just creating conversation with them. The whole meeting is about them – what their goals are, what they want to accomplish, and what support you can give.
What do you look for in a client?
In my business, we are looking for long-term relationships. I cannot just take every single client just because they can pay for your monthly retainer. I am not interested in doing one-off projects.
We utilize an internal checklist to assist in client assessment, and this is a great activity that every single business should be doing. We take into consideration the people we want to work with, and what values they have that will support that fit.
We ask our clients if they know what they need. We make sure that we are working with people who are clear about their goals. We write down a qualifying and intake process - what the vibe is going to be, what the important points are, and how they want to be perceived.
We think about who are the partners that we want to have, like people who would bring us repeat business. We have options to choose from – Are we going to choose a client who is exciting to work with, but it’s just a three-month gig? Or do we want to work with a less exciting client for the next five years? I have to choose wisely what is best for the company in the long run.
How long should you respond to a lead?
The longer you respond to a lead, the less likely you are to get that business. We are talking about responding within minutes if possible. There may be instances when it is not always possible to do that because you are on other calls, but as soon as you become available, you should be taking that lead and calling him as soon as possible.
A lot of marketing companies are good at what they do. What is challenging is the process to vet a marketing company because they usually charge a lot. So, how would someone vet a marketing company?
First of all, no one can guarantee results because much of it is going to be dependent upon the work that you do and how your staff is handling leads. If you are looking for a marketing company, here are some helpful hints:
1. Contact their references. Speak to their clients, to the ones they offer up, the ones that they don’t offer up, and hear what they have to say.
2. Look for testimonials that are not found on their website. Check if they are on Google My Business and other business directories. Read reviews about them.
3. If they have written articles, read them.
4. Check the effort they made in the proposal they give you. Has it been customized for you? Did they put a lot of thought into that proposal? Did they research in advance to see if they would be a good fit for you?
5. Listen carefully in the introductory calls that you have with them. See how this marketing company responds to your questions.
This was a very informative interview and we learned a lot from Fran. The ideas she shared will help those who would like to start their service business.
Still interested to know more about Fran’s services?
Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or get in touch using the following numbers:
North America : (855) 899-2899 | Israel: (02) 991-8118