Social and Digital Content Writer, Lauren O’Connor, speaks with SponsoredLinX Founder & CEO, Internet Marketing Pioneer and author of the best-selling book, Don’t Guess, Ben Bradshaw, to mark the tremendous SponsoredLinX 10 Year Anniversary milestone!
Celebrating the past. Inspiring the future.
I remember my first work anniversary; I was 15 years old and I had been casually working in the local surf shop for one year. I received two tickets to the cinema and a card from my employers thanking me for my service. I can remember my astonishment that I should receive thanks from the people who had given me a job, but in time I came to understand that the practice of celebrating business and work anniversaries is just as equally important as celebrating personal ones. My days of working in surf shops are long gone. Now, as the resident content writer for SponsoredLinX, I have the pleasure of partaking in the celebrations of another work anniversary. Yes, SponsoredLinX this year celebrates its 10 Year Anniversary! Such a milestone is very rarely seen nowadays and such an event deserves the time and recognition of the occasion, and it certainly wouldn’t have been capable without Ben Bradshaw.
I had the opportunity to interview Ben Bradshaw on this momentous occasion to find out what it really means to celebrate a 10 Year Anniversary in the realm of digital marketing.
Milestones are important and as Ben testifies, as the CEO of SponsoredLinX and as an entrepreneur, taking the time out to reflect and praise your efforts is important. In particular, 2016 is an important year for Ben as it marks ten years in business as the leader of what has grown into Australia’s leading online marketing agency. Ben and I talked about the growth the company has experienced year after year, which upon reflection was inevitable. He says that, “SponsoredLinX has reached the top of our business category. I wanted it to be nothing short of a massive success and after reaching ten years in business, it finally feels like we’ve arrived”.
Like most businesses which have reached important milestones, nothing is ever achieved purely on one person’s efforts. There are always those people who have stuck with the business through thick and thin, and Ben firmly believes in surrounding himself with people he can trust and who he knows he can rely on. For Ben, this has largely been those closest to him, including his partner, Shannah. From the get go there has been all the trials and tribulations which come with running your own business, and as Ben states, “there are honestly no shortcuts to building a business. Over the last ten years I’ve worked extremely long days, had countless sleepless nights and even slept under my desk. I’ve experienced some major setbacks, but I’ve also had some major wins”.
The SponsoredLinX 10 Year Anniversary is the perfect opportunity to thank those who have helped grow Australia’s leading digital marketing agency, and it all begins and ends with the SponsoredLinX clients. As Ben says, “they’re the reason why we’re here and they’re the reason why we continue to strive to be the best in the market. Reaching ten years in business and growing to become Australia’s number one online marketing agency for SMEs is a culmination of night’s not slept, immeasurable setbacks, hard work, and the support of key people. I feel very fortunate for the success SponsoredLinX has had over the last ten years, but it hasn’t been easy”.
Indeed, when Ben first started out, people were entirely unaware that it was even possible to advertise on Google. With Google search available for anyone who had an internet connection, Google AdWords created an enormous opportunity to help small to medium businesses advertise online, and so the genesis of SponsoredLinX came to light. Today, you’re incredibly hard pressed to find an online marketing firm which has successfully been running for ten years, which is testament to Ben’s ability to passionately believe in what his business does for his clients.
You will have heard the saying, ‘Business is business’ which implies that personal feelings and sentiment mustn’t enter the equation. Ben believes that this could not be further from the truth. Through rigorous trial and error, Ben developed a business formula which can be adapted to suit the needs of any business model. It is this formula which forms the framework of the SponsoredLinX ethos and all of the work we carry out for our clients. It is Traffic > Conversion > Retention. “Building SponsoredLinX around this business model and the values it encompasses is the exact reason why we have a no contract business standard. It’s ethical and honest and makes SponsoredLinX 100% accountable for the results we deliver to our clients”, Ben explains.
At the end of the day, people deal with people, and Ben’s deeply rooted understanding of this is the exact reason why SponsoredLinX will stand the test of time.
Australian consumers digital expectations are not being met by Australian small businesses
Technology, the internet and all aspects of digital have brought global citizens and global companies closer together than ever before. Australian consumers believe that if an experience, product or service can be had overseas, why can’t that happen for them here? As business owners, your competitors are not simply restricted to those within a close geographical location, but you are being compared to those in your industry globally. As the enormity of that statement sinks in, and when you think about the fact that Australian businesses are still failing to implement fundamental basics such as website navigation, having a social media presence, or simply having a website, the expectations of Australian consumers are being woefully let down.
Naturally as we begin to ponder what is install for us in 2016 we take a look back at 2015. To say it was momentous would just be touching the surface. For small to medium sized businesses everywhere 2015 was the year of digital. If you’re not online, then you’re missing out. It’s not just younger generations who are comfortable spending online anymore, and as more people throughout the population become attached to their smartphones, 2015 was undoubtedly the year of mobile. Here I have collated the top ten most momentous happenings to have occurred in the world of business – how does your business stack up?
1) Micro-Moments from Google
It was the buzz-word of 2015 and paints the scene of the new battleground for businesses everywhere; Micro-Moments. There are several steps you can take to strategise your plan of attack. The best trick you can utilise is through developing a ‘Micro-Moments’ map. Your next step is to take your Micro-Moments map to an online marketing specialist, who can then devise an integrated marketing strategy to help you and your business leverage these moments.
2) Google My Business
The significant changes Google have implemented for the Google My Business platform has transformed how we manage Google+ pages and locations. With greater flexibility for adjusting business hours and a new-look dashboard and navigation panel, Google are going to great lengths to make managing Google My Business work in-tune with our busy schedules. For business owners it means greater visibility to important business details when potential customers are interested in your business.
3) Google Analytics Report Interface
The new Google report interface allows us easily put together graphic reports, pie charts and other visual reporting methods for many different aspects of the campaigns that we manage for small to medium business owners. The reports provide a great visual tool for clients to see at a glance what’s working and what’s not. For our clients, who are all very busy business owners, it means they can easily interpret the data to inform other business decisions.
4) Search Remarketing (RLSA)
Google announced in a blog this year that marketers can now leverage over 200 analytical dimensions to build unique audiences for your remarketing needs. There really is no excuse to not lure customers who have not (or have) converted back to your website. For those businesses suffering from ‘shopping cart abandonment’ issues, remarketing is the online tool they need to bring those customers back to convert. It is also a great tool to bring back loyal customers with suggestions of products they may want to purchase.
5) Video Content Across All Online Platforms
Sure, we all enjoy the videos of cute cats, but to be serious for a moment; video content is so much more than that. The increase in video content consumption, coupled with the increase in video content creation and with mobile device usage growing, you either have a video content strategy or risk falling behind! Why is it important? For businesses who are hungry to greater exposure, video content will put them front and centre in front of the people who matter – your customers.
6) Facebook Gets Visual
From a milestone point of view, Facebook’s push on their video platform and getting around eight billion views daily, along with the one billion daily users’ benchmark has been phenomenal. From an advertising point of view, the implementation of Instagram ads and the video push are equally as big. Both are big news and really show how the future of media is on hand-held devices. It all comes back to the importance of having a secure mobile marketing strategy in place to meet customers where they are spending their time.
7) Material Design as Graphic Design Increases in Importance
Even though Google released Material Design last year, it really only became widely used this year. Codenamed Quantum Paper, it’s a design language which, “synthesizes classic principles of good design with the innovation and possibility of technology and science”. While the impact for business owners is not instantly recognisable, with the growing importance of visual content, using a Graphic Designer who knows their industry inside out is crucial to producing and using visual content you’re happy to put your brand name on.
8) Google AdWords for SMEs
Google advertising for small businesses has become a lot more accessible and it doesn’t require an enormous marketing budget either. Small businesses can market their brand alongside big name brands on Google because their AdWords Pay-Per-Click (PPC) system has levelled the playing field. As a Certified Google Partner we get access to the latest Google releases and tools which mean the small businesses we manage get first access.
9) Mobile Optimisation
If you work in the world of online marketing, it’s likely that you circled the 21st of April on your calendar this year… numerous times. Yes, we were all waiting with bated breath for the Google mobile-friendly ‘mobilegeddon’ algorithm update in April this year. We now know just how important mobile is to business performance, and mobilegeddon was only the beginning. 2015 has been the year of mobile, so for businesses who are yet to optimise for handheld devices will want to hop to it.
10) Mobile Devices – The Remote Control for our Lives
Handheld devices are now the device of choice for people who search the Internet. As the ‘remote control for our lives’ increasingly becomes a tool we all feel dependent on, ensuring that people’s experiences on their mobile devices is increasingly important for web developers. If people can intuitively interact with a website on a tablet or smartphone, then people will bounce off the site, and our clients clearly don’t want that to happen. It’s so common now that any website we create is mobile friendly by default, but this has only happened this year. So for business owners who have had a website for a while need to update.
Take a short moment and listen in on the latest digital marketing predictions across the online space this year, straight from Ben Bradshaw.
Why do SME’s need to be online you ask?
A combination of economic activity, soaring appetites to ‘buy local’, increases in online shopping trends coupled with increased internet connectivity nation-wide as a result of the National Broadband Network, has created the perfect online storm for buying and selling online.
“A twig is not as strong as the whole branch,”
And I feel this is applies to business. An unwavering ability to work together is so important and massively valued at SponsoredLinX.
Occasionally we experience adversity beyond our control and it is our commitment to becoming the best search marketing agency in Australia that sets SponsoredLinX apart from the other companies competing in our highly competitive market. We must maintain our commitment to becoming the best, not only to prosper but to survive in our rapidly changing market. I believe as a team we will not only continue to grow but become one of the World’s best search marketing agencies operating in this difficult world economy.
At SponsoredLinX we are committed to improving our systems, services, people and company as whole. In today’s economy very few companies have the luxury of saying we are growing. I must congratulate everyone who works together under our sometimes crazy growth conditions as growth is impossible without everybody working as one! I am humbled to see this within our Sponno team more and more often.
This quarter alone our talented team of developers have built from the ground up many new systems as we simply outgrew our old ones, a good problem to have, but a problem none the less. This has been rolled out almost seamlessly due to the hard work of the all the development, accounts & administration teams. So we must congratulate the relentless hard work in rolling this system out to over 2000 clients who we provide AdWords Management, SEO management, Websites, Hosting and Domain services too. It is a huge achievement and we should all be thankful of everyone who made this project a success.
Sometimes the chaos of dealing with our growth reminds me of a huge Broadway production that appears to run like clockwork from the audience’s point of view but behind the scenes there are people running around pulling ropes, gaff taping wires, etc. to make the production a success. This is also true in business as it takes many people all working hard together to make it successful.
At the end of the day the industries high perception and regard of SponsoredLinX just wouldn’t be possible without some of the amazing people who work extremely hard behind the scenes. I think it is fair to say you are an inspiration to all of us here SponsoredLinX.
Lately, I have been busy in the public eye and waving the SponsoredLinX flag.
These last few months alone we have been featured in major International Industry magazines such as Visibility magazine and Search Marketing Standard as well as national newspapers such as The Australian Financial Review and locally via City South News and The Courier Mail.
However the most exciting of all these was the interviews on Sky Business “Tech Talk” and 4BC Radio. SponsoredLinX is now very fortunate to be relied on nationally as an industry authority on online marketing and future Internet trends.
The Sky Business “Google Glasses” Interview aired Monday morning you can now view it at the SponsoredLinX YouTube Channel.
You can also listen to the 4BC Interview by viewing the link below:
In our efforts to provide the best and reliable service to our clients we have also upgraded all major IT systems. We have also rolled out a brand new phone system replacing our dinosaur and giving us the ability to handle our amazing growth.
And that’s all from me!
Ben Bradshaw – Founder & CEO SponsoredLinX
Sharing my experience and what I have learned by being in business, both the successes and challenges, is something I really enjoy.
Recently, I was interviewed by startupsmart.com.au on the subject of adversity and turning it around so that it works for you, rather than against you. Adversity is definitely something I have become very familiar with over the years I have been in business, as I shared in a previous blog post, but I have most certainly not let it get in my way.
Here is the story.
Recently, I have been thinking a lot about adversity and the methods I have used to overcome times of adversity in both my business and personal life. I thought I would share my tools and lessons, because without them, I have seen so many people let moments of adversity absolutely destroy them.
While I am now identified as a self-made millionaire and internet marketing pioneer, I was not always featured on the national landscape of business and personal success.
At the age of 17, I found myself with a pregnant girlfriend. It was then I realised that I needed to do something drastic to turn my life around, and ensure that my children were not destined to a life that lacked in opportunity, and parents who lived on social security benefits.
With a very limited family budget and living on egg and lettuce to ensure our daughter was always well fed, I found an opening in carpet sales, where my father was employed.
Early on, I started to kick some serious sales goals, and enjoyed the feeling of achieving something for myself and my young family. Looking back, this was probably when I first got addicted to the taste of success.
It was ultimately the search for online visibility for his other passion, corporate magic, that led me to the path of online marketing. Having tested a number of methods for Google AdWords and stumbling upon gold, I started SponsoredLinX. The business has incidentally grown a staggering 300% since its inception and is now Australia’s largest Australian owned AdWords Management Company.
However, the journey to success has certainly included a large slice of adversity, and even today as it grows, I encounter professional and personal tests on a weekly basis.
From a devastating office fire to former employees taking IP to other businesses, to even what on the surface could initially be mistaken as positive, such as growing too rapidly, I have ultimately learned how to deal the hand of adversity, and relish it.
I have always taken a yin and yang approach to business, in other words, I believe problems are all part and parcel of the job. How can you recognise and appreciate the good times if there are no struggles on the journey?
I feel it is important to keep a firm eye on the prize when disaster strikes. Knowing and reminding yourself what you are doing it all for, that’s what will ultimately motivate you to put in the hard work and see out the storm.
I also maintain that asking yourself two questions when you set out on a new journey, a new chapter or a new challenge will set any entrepreneur up for success.
What are you willing to do and what are you willing to sacrifice – those two questions ultimately hold the key.
Check out my latest article in Dynamic Business online.
This article explores exactly why all business owners need to make internet marketing an important and measureable component of their overall business strategy.