Latest Startup – Colin Docherty
Tell us about your business Edge45
Edge45 is a new comer to the digital marketing agency scene. New though we may be, we are rapidly growing and are earning our reputation by rewriting the agency rule book.
We differ by putting service ahead of profit, Edge45’s core focus is helping businesses (especially start-ups and SMEs) achieve tangible results on limited budgets in the fastest time possible. We don’t sell a service because it’s good for us; we provide a service because it’s good for the client. We believe in paying things forward, building trust and a significant number of our client base has come from recommendations as a result.
What services do you currently offer?
In layman’s terms, if you rely on your business website to generate online sales or leads such as a phone calls or web enquiries, we help drive more traffic to your website and ensure as much of that traffic converts as possible by making the website work harder for you. Right now we have a client getting a year on year increase in revenue from online sales of 577% for January 2015 versus 2016 from our work.
We offer everything you’d expect of a Digital Marketing Agency – SEO, PPC, Email, Conversion Rate Optimisation, Online Branding, Merchandising and Affiliate Marketing etc. – but in a completely new and refreshing way. In the short space of time since Edge45 was established, we have accumulated a queue of clients who will testify to that.
We don’t believe there is anyone offering what we do with the level of passion and desire that we have and that makes us unique. We deliver exceptional results on small budgets because we are able to make those budgets travel further by shifting them from SEO to PPC to CRO in an incredibly fluid manner. This approach has not only never lost a client (**touches wood**), but has resulted in all existing clients voluntarily increasing their marketing budgets with Edge45. They see the value in what we do based on the results we deliver and they want more.
Where did the idea come from?
I guess the idea came over time from working as a SEO account manager where I saw 3 main issues over and over again:
1. Seeing the best and worst the industry has to offer. Profit before client time after time, aggressive sales techniques, outdated work models & inexperienced amateurs, all of whom tend to do more harm than good.
2. With regards to SEO specifically, super brands (M&S, Virgin Media, Tesco etc.) no longer need SEO to the extent they once did. Google knows who they are and what they do and ranks them favourably regardless of their SEO efforts. The industry was changing and it was the new kids on the block: SMEs and start-ups who are nobodies online that need SEO the most. Yet, they don’t have the big budgets that big SEO agencies demand. This tends to make start-ups and SMEs unattractive prospects to large agencies. To put it bluntly, they don’t get a seat at the table, meanwhile the strong get stronger.
So what choice does a SME owner have if they want to go toe to toe when it comes to online marketing?
- Do it themselves? Mistake. More time, more stress and a job half done.
- Hire someone full time? Assuming they are any good plus, the owner now has the strain of another salary, holiday allowance etc. to pay for.
- Perhaps they should do nothing at all and fall further behind?
- Finally, I grew tired of SEO being sold to companies when that wasn’t necessarily the best online marketing solution for them. In the interests of my clients, I would advise them of what I thought the best solution or strategy was for them but often this would mean an additional service they had to pay for on top of the one they were already committed to. They couldn’t just move their existing budget and so things got unnecessarily expensive very quickly for them.
All of the above left me feeling that there just had to be another way. I envisioned an affordable agency that had the experience & expertise of successfully marketing big brands and SMEs but with a passion you can’t buy and a genuine desire to help the smaller guy be successful.
What were you doing before starting Colin?
I was digital account manager for an ecommerce marketing company in York, where I soon progressed to running my own marketing team as director of marketing. At the same time, I already had a growing number of SEO and marketing clients that I worked for in my spare time. After the founding partners of the business decided to part company, I was forced to consider whether I really wanted to keep working for someone else or was I brave enough to go it alone and offer the online marketing solution I thought SMEs really needed. I followed my heart and chose the latter.
What is your USP?
Our USP is the view that to add the most value and impact online, you need to be agile in being able to change focus from one digital channel to another as and when needs are such. Unlike other agencies, our hands aren’t tied by being only able to offer one siloed service for a fixed rate contract.
Our approach is much more agile, we move client budget between any and all digital channels as and when we feel certain platforms will deliver a stronger ROI than others. For example, its Valentine’s day soon so we might choose to shift focus from SEO to Email Marketing temporarily for an e-commerce client who sells a lot of gift orientated products. No ground is lost on the longer term SEO campaign, but we can help the client cash in on an important date in the calendar without asking them to increase their spend.
We are able to deliver exceptional results on minimal budgets due to this agile marketing approach and we communicate with our clients using jargon free language they understand so they ‘get’ what we are doing from day to day. Transparency is a core value to us in an industry that can often seem complex and bewildering to the uninitiated.
Ultimately, I suppose, our USP is an unwavering belief that if we always put our client’s best interests first, our client’s will pay that back to us in some form in the longer term. We don’t take on a client if we don’t feel we can add value whilst reputation and trust is more important than making a quick buck. Simple.
How did you know there was a market for your service?
I’ve been really fortunate to have worked with some really talented and well-respected people (John Readman, Anthony Main, Brannan Coady & Rob Powell – Thank you!) within the industry over the years. When everyone is telling you that it’s time you set up your own business because you could be a game changer with all you have to offer and the passion you bring to what you do, then you know there’s a market for your services. I’ve known some of our clients for years in previous roles who have followed me from agencies I’ve worked at full time to Edge45 on the strength of the relationship alone.
Have you always wanted to be a budding entrepreneur?
Absolutely not! I was always a career ladder man and was successful at it but some of the compromises I was being asked to make to survive in that environment were just not me. I became increasingly frustrated at the shortfall in creativity and lack of personal touch I felt clients deserved.
What challenges have you faced so far and how have you overcome them?
The fact that we’ve been ripping up the rule book when it comes to digital marketing has not gone unnoticed by our competitors and has opened us up to criticism. In the early days we questioned what we were doing and almost gave in to the pressure. We soon came to our senses however by accepting that we will be criticised because we are different and it makes our competitors question what they do. We’ve been successful so far because we are built on our differences and that makes us exceptionally proud.
How are you currently marketing your services?
It goes without saying that given Edge45 is a digital marketing agency, we use online digital marketing to market our services! We practice what we preach and our SEO skills have helped get the website ranking for key terms, generate leads and is now self-sustaining (the value of SEO!).
We also use PPC but its secondary to the work that existing clients have brought through word of mouth referrals where business associates get referred on to us from the results we have delivered for others. Additionally, we have been fortunate to (**touches wood again**) have never lost a client which we attribute to our pay it forward philosophy.
We are also positioning ourselves as authority figures in our niche by creating content (videos, blog posts, how to articles) that educate local business owners in all things SEO and online marketing. A lot of SEO companies publish articles that evidence their expertise amongst their peers in the industry which is all fine and well, but most of this is lost on the small business owner who is merely looking for someone to help them grow online.
Our focus as a result is to create easy-to-digest content, full of actionable insights that a non marketing and SEO expert will understand and be able to use and get benefit from for their business. We find that this makes us more accessible, less intimidating and builds and fosters trust which is important in an industry that most everyday people either don’t understand or can’t understand. This more often than not results in business coming to us from the very same people as they trust us and that is so important when choosing any service supplier, no matter what industry it is.
What has been the biggest breakthrough so far?
Realising the value in what we do. People and businesses genuinely need our services (particularly with SEO and all the cowboys out there). This gave us more confidence to price our services accordingly – Not expensive but fair. We were undercharging and making little profit purely due to lack of confidence. Clients seem genuinely thankful for our advice and that is because we offer tangible value.
Where would you like Edge45 to be in five years’ time?
I’d hope to see Edge45 as a renowned Digital Marketing Agency and recognised leader in its field for helping SME’s get ahead online.
I’d like to grow the team to around 15 or 20, all of whom as enthusiastic and as passionate as myself and each with their own areas of expertise. Fuse those skill sets with our passion for what we do, and I hope to see Edge45 offering an industry leading, best in class online marketing service.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
There will be times when you doubt yourself, times when things aren’t going as you’d envisaged as well as failures and knockbacks along the way. Such setbacks will play tricks on your mind, make you want to throw the towel in and do something else – At one point I was offered a fantastic opportunity as a marketing director of a highly successful web design company. I was given the remit of building my own marketing team in my own vision with a great financial package to boot, and, under any other circumstance, I would have jumped at the opportunity. However, it was only after I began considering this option that I realised that for all the stress of building my own company, going back into full time employment for someone else meant walking away from something not even half started. It would have meant giving up with no good reason and that just didn’t sit well with me.
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