Why I started Smartdog digital

Posted on April 4, 2012

Hello dear friends of Smartdog, loyal subscribers and to anyone else who is reading this out there. It’s been two years since I started my business and I’ve wanted to write this post for a while now, having finally had a spare moment to get the words out from inside of me. Here it is.

First of all, before I begin, this is a personal story to me and I hope that you can appreciate the reasons why I do what I do today in my business.

The Background

Prior to starting Smartdog digital back in 2010, I had previously worked in the past as a freelance web designer in my youth. Having graduated from University, I went on to cut my teeth at various agencies in Yorkshire both involved in digital marketing, traditional marketing and web design. Along the way I got to work with some brilliant people and with a lot of different businesses ranging from the engineering sector to retail and even some charities.

Throughout my time working for other people I learnt many valuable lessons along the way, but the most important lesson I learnt was that many of the businesses and clients I was working for didn’t really understand:

  • A: What they were buying and what specifically was the results of that investment?
  • B: How much money they were wasting on digital marketing and web design.

In the end having worked for three different agencies in three years, I realised something. In order to actually help people and help businesses with their digital marketing properly, teaching them how to run an effective campaign and most importantly how to measure their results correctly, meant I would have to quit my day job and go it alone.

It hasn’t been an easy ride running my first business at 26, I think I’ve done pretty well considering this is my first time running a business.

Why I am here?

Why I do what I do

For many years now I have believed that I was put on this planet for one main purpose. My purpose is to ‘teach people about technology’. In school, I was always the techie geek that the teachers turned to for IT advice, I’ve have always been experimenting and learning about technology since I was a young lad.

I get out of bed every morning because I have a real passion, thirst and desire to improve my knowledge about digital marketing and importantly, I’m very keen to pass that learning and knowledge on to my peers, colleagues and clients.

What do you get out of bed for?

Behind the Smoke and Mirrors

smoke and mirrors

Digital Marketing is a vast field and it encompasses many different marketing tactics and areas of expertise. No one person can really hope to master them all, though many will try.

The technology and techniques develop very quickly, it can be hard for even seasoned digital marketers to keep up at times. If I had a penny for every new social media measurement tool I’ve been invited to try over the last two years, I’d be a very rich man.

For years, there has been a rapid growth in the number of businesses that are selling these services to companies. Some have come and gone, others have faded into obscurity.

Yet, there hundreds of new boutique digital agencies, web design houses and digital marketing companies being created every day.

I started Smartdog to provide independent impartial advice in a sector where there can be more smoke and mirrors than any actual real substance.

How does your business know who to appoint? Do you even understand who you need to appoint first? What services do you require?

Does your business even need to invest money into your website or digital marketing?

How is a business owner supposed to learn all this stuff?

Of course, you don’t need to know everything, but you do need people in your business who you can trust and approach for knowledgeable advice about digital marketing.

The other day someone said to me “you’re a poacher turned gamekeeper” and I suppose that they are right.

I used to work for agencies in the past and now I’m working on the client side of the table, fighting in their corner, acting as their advocate and guide. I personally find it a truly rewarding experience.

The truth is that businesses every single day waste thousands of pounds on digital marketing and web design. The main reason is a lack of knowledge between the buyer (you) and the seller (typically an agency). Please don’t think by reading this post that I’m anti-agency, I’m not. Not all the agencies I worked for were bad and there are some really good ones out there doing a great job for their clients.

The point I’m making is that many businesses really need a second opinion, the technology has moved faster than most of us had predicted it would and businesses just can’t keep pace.

We are already shifting to the third screen from the Personal Computer to Smartphone Devices and Tablets. We are already living in a world gone mobile.

A Recent Example

digital marketing help

Only recently I saw a business owner state:

“I am looking for someone who can help me to drive large amounts of traffic to my website and blog, list build, create fabulous e-shot campaigns, look after all of my social media etc. It has become too onerous a task for me and my team and as we are growing, we need help.”

The problem with this statement is it’s not very realistic.

A common misconception made by many businesses is they put a junior (or young person) in charge who they think ‘gets’ social media or knows the Internet. You should be putting someone senior in-charge with marketing experience. You also need to set some clear business goals and objectives stating why you’re involved in that marketing channel in the first place.

Even some of the best marketers struggle to list build or drive significant amounts of traffic to a website of any sort. Any wage that you had set out to paid this person isn’t going to be an effective spend of your money. Also, building e-shot campaigns takes some knowledge of HTML to design the e-mail (this is a separate learned set of skills).

How are you going to measure your ROI and results overall?

Just because a young person uses the Internet on a daily basis doesn’t mean they instantly understand all the technology. It has taken me five + years of solid hard work; I’ve read thousands of blog posts; I’ve spoken at events; I’ve worked as both a web designer and digital marketer to gain my overall expertise. I’ve even started my own websites and learnt from my own mistakes.

You could save yourself thousands of pounds if only you could speak to right person before making these kind of decisions for your business.

Sure, there is no harm recruiting a graduate, but they ‘will’ need specific training to get them up to a level where they’ll be able to help you accordingly. No student fresh out of University has had all the skills needed to be at the top of their game straight away.

I remember how fresh faced I was, I needed real hands-on experience first before I could have ever dreamed of starting a business like this.

In this digital economy you now need a second opinion on your digital marketing strategy because so much of the advice is conflicting and as I eluded to earlier, many of the companies I’ve come into contact with who are selling these services to my clients offer more smoke and mirrors than actually marketing ROI and measurable results.

It’s been two years of hard work and I’m still here on my mission to help as many businesses as I possibly can.

Thank you for your continued support and thank you to all the people who have helped advise me so far.

Happy 2nd Birthday Smartdog.

Sincerely yours,

Illiya Vjestica
MD at Smartdog digital
“Your loyal digital consultant”
 
Image Credits: The dog by By ETersigni elizabeth tersigni, Why do you do By markheybo, Smoke and Mirrors By danieljordahl, Help By marc falardeau marc falardeau