During my first year of business I was a victim to all the advertising and marketing companies. “Fresh Blood” for lack of a better term. We had bought an existing business from someone and rebranded it with our name and business model. The previous owner had some existing advertising contracts in place and foolishly we just went ahead and took those over.
This is where the horror story begins. I really had no idea about advertising and how marketing and SEO worked. When I sat down to talk to these companies they pulled out all the scare tactics. “You are not being found on Google”, “Your customers can’t find you, and my personal favorite “The more money you spend the more money you will make”. I honestly didn’t have a clue how this big scary world of Google and marketing worked so I just started writing checks hoping I was making a good business decision.
After my first year in business and operating at a loss I had to immediately start studying my P&L statements and find ways for us to cut our costs somehow. There it was staring us in the face…$40,000 in advertising. $40,000 in advertising and my business did not make money. In fact, I think we got more phone calls for services we did NOT provide then services we did. All the different companies I had hired to SEO and advertise hadn’t been spending our money with the best interest of our business in mind. They just wanted to show me charts and all the phone calls I was getting regardless of the fact I was getting phone calls for repairs I did not even offer. For instance, it was an on going joke at our shop how many phone calls a day we got for hubcaps. We don’t sell or repair hubcaps! Why were we constantly getting calls for them? Because the people I hired to optimize keyword searches on Google were spending part of my SEO budget on hubcaps. The company I had hired didn’t even care to find out what repairs and services I offered before spending my budget on completely irrelevant things.
I realized immediately that I had to educate myself on marketing. I had to find out what exactly I was paying for and if I could do any of it myself to save some of those what I considered wasted advertising dollars. I signed up for a few online classes and went out to a 2 day SEO conference in Phoenix and learned really quickly that this was not rocket science and I very easily could do this myself. You don’t have to be a marketing major or IT expert to get your company seen!
I have now taken over all SEO responsibilities for my company and every time our phone rings at the shop it is for services we actually provide. And guess what? People can find us on Google! Needless to say my best advice to anyone thinking of owning their own business is to become educated in marketing. Don’t get me wrong I do find value in some paid advertising but now I know what I am spending my money on.
Dawn Brooks is owner of RAD Auto Repair – A His and Hers Auto Repair Shop.