4 Years In And $1 Million In Digital Marketing And Here’s What I’ve Learnt

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I woke up this morning and looked at the date.

It’s October 2020.

Wow. I’ve been at this ‘digital marketing’ game for 4 years now since I started Pearl Lemon back in 2016.

There have not been many things in my life where I’ve consistently stuck at it for that length of time.

I really didn’t anticipate sticking at this for 48 months.

I guess I just never thought that far ahead of the game.

It’s difficult even now to conceive where I will be in 4 years from now but ultimately it’s likely that I’ll still be growing Pearl Lemon in 4 years from now.

I thought about this because we’re in the middle of contract negotiations would you believe with a company that has a market cap of $13 billion. And we – as the company pointed out – have only 1-employee registered on the UK side of our business.

And I thought – holy shit!

What’s a company of that size, whom we’ve agreed a £5,500 contract with – doing actively negotiating with us? And furthermore – what we’re negotiating is ultimately the payment terms.

We want payment upfront – and getting payment upfront would entirely break the way they make payments – as they have 45-day invoicing terms – meaning they would pay us 45 days after the invoice is generated.

That negotiation aside, the whole idea of where we’re at made me smile but also grimace a little.

We’re still subbing $1 million annual revenue and haven’t grown at the speed I hoped for.

Of course, there are reasons, explanations and things that have happened along the way – but it’s interesting to think about what has happened over the last several years and what I’ve learnt.

I’d like to walk through some of those things now:

ONE

To be successful, you must find a way to enjoy the journey and to a degree not worry as much about the end goal but instead focus on the relentless pursuit of excellence.

There is power in just continually working on things. On the process of continual improvement and seeing what value that can drive over the long term.

Pearl Lemon’s growth – as much as I have tried to make it rapid, has been steady, as ultimately the things that have moved the needle have been very few amongst all of the missteps you make.

(I’m still wondering whether that’s come from my ‘inability to focus – or that’s just the nature of trying to grow a business)

That many of the things you try and work upon don’t quite work as you imagined – and that’s all part of the journey – I’m relatively confident it’s the latter.

TWO

It’s lonely.

I’m still not sure if that’s because I’m running a remote team and therefore you don’t develop the camaraderie and day-to-day that you would with an office.

Digital Marketing

Equally, even in an office, ultimately people will be with you for a time before they continue on their own journeys. In some rare cases, people will be with you for the entirety of the journey – although I feel that idea is somewhat cliched now – and people come and go quicker than ever before.

THREE

It’s ok that it’s lonely. You must adjust to it.

Pearl Lemon is the baby and I am its primary caregiver.

Without me, none of this works – that’s actually the reminder that Nick used to give me when referring to the growth of Purr Traffic – back when it was just Adina and I.

That what mattered more than any strategy, tool or tactic were the few important people and their ability to move the business forward.

FOUR

Growth will most likely be slower than you think.

Consistency of clients when you deliver a service you have is not an expert in, and must become an expert on the job leads to a lot of chaos.

So as much as Pearl Lemon has grown and picked up clients – we’ve also lost along the way as clients have churned – our delivery hasn’t been up to par – there’s been a miscommunication or unrealistic expectations and everything in between

FIVE

One victory can outweigh all of the losses.

This is why experimentation becomes so important to the cause.

Why there is seemingly so much waste within the business?

Every industry and each business, and also each individual has growth levers they can tap into that will levy a much bigger return than it will for other people.

The challenge, as Amir would say – is understanding where in your plot of land the gold is buried.

This will invariably involve digging many holes – and there are all of the things you ‘try’ in order to see some kind of success.

SIX

Adopting the habits of a successful business owner is probably the best way to become a successful business owner.

After reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits, it’s become clearer some of the things that are necessary to become successful.

James Clear’s Atomic Habits

An example of this is – don’t aim to run a sub-3 hour marathon because you’ll probably fail at it.

However – do aim to run every day.

In aiming to become a daily runner – you’ll begin to adopt the habits of a world-class performer and then from this excellence can come.

SEVEN

Business is a marathon disguised as fartlek training.

A series of small sprints with no specific distance set out for each of them, collectively come together to formulate the marathon distance

Let me give you some active examples of these fartleks:

  • My desire to get to 100 posts written for my newsletter
  • My desire to keep improving Pearl Lemon’s internal SEO via getting involved in link-building
  • Doubling the size of my sales team to try and drive more sales

Underneath this all I’m fundamentally trying to build my brand as well as to grow Pearl Lemon

_______________

You know,

I was thinking about penning a philosophical 8,9,10 and so forth but I stopped.

The more I continue with agency life – the more I feel that I don’t really know what I’m doing – but I see carefully that my actions demonstrate otherwise so I think it’s just a feeling.

I’m just aware of the cliches I guess – add value to your team, add value to your clients, serve with a smile and keep trying to get better every day.

I’m not sure how helpful any of that is if you’re just starting out really lol, so I guess I could reel of a bunch of strategies to execute.

Let’s do that!

  1. Run cold email that’s massively personalised to generate leads
  2. Spend most of your time invested in building a repeatable lead generation funnel – then the rest will follow (e.g we have Upwork, Cold Email, LinkedIn Outreach, SEO)
  3. Use video in your communications with your team and your clients – it speeds up the process massively (Loom.com)
  4. Most of the things you try and do to generate leads will fail – find your winners and double down upon them (As above – we’ve tried many more)
  5. Try each day in business as if you might go out of business – what can you do to save the ship (e.g right now I’m trying to build my Medium following with Chris my writing coaches help haha)
  6. Reinvest heavily – it will buy you freedom if you keep watering the garden (just like this newsletter I keep, I hope in 5 years it’ll still be valuable)
  7. The more you reinvest, the easier growth becomes (then opportunities just start coming to you easier)

__________________

All of this was easier when I knew less because I felt surer of the answers.

The more I learn about ‘how it works’ the less I feel that I know – because the sheer size of the cliff face seems to keep expanding.

Or as Aristotle said – the more you know – the more you know you don’t know.

From 45-day payment invoice terms to NDAs, to reputation management to dealing with clients from all over the world to well…doing stuff like this.

I guess I’d wrap it up by saying – when you decide to do something…give it at least 1 year of massively consistent effort (which is almost impossible to do anyway haha) – and more likely than not you will see success and wish to continue.

Where you don’t – as I have multiple times…all that will be left will be a graveyard littered with the remnants of all of the things that didn’t fail – but you ultimately gave up upon.

Most of us never truly fail. But almost everybody gives up

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