Digital Marketing has become the most essential business activity with time. No business can imagine its present and future without digital marketing. Today, we have brought the story of Simon Dalley in his own words – about his journey as an SEO consultant and an SEO agency owner. Let’s walk along to learn more about his inspiring journey as an SEO specialist.
How will you Introduce Yourself to the world?
My name is Simon Dalley. I have been a marketer for around two decades, working in senior marketing management roles whilst in my spare time I’ve been working as an SEO consultant.
Tell your readers about your achievements till today (Be Honest) !!
I worked with almost every major automotive manufacturer earlier on in my career. Later I became the Brand Manager at We Buy Any Car during the marketing launch and following this I have headed up the marketing function at several national brands. But throughout all this time SEO has been my passion.
Tell us about your start-up!
I started GrowTraffic as my side hustle in 2009 and worked as a freelance SEO consultant whilst I continued to work in corporate marketing roles. Over the years GrowTraffic transitioned from an SEO consultancy to a digital marketing agency focused on using content marketing for SEO. The business really began to get going over the last few years and we’re aiming for rapid growth over the course of this year. Currently, we are in the process of purchasing a building to convert into a digital center and we’re also building a piece of forward-facing software. Both these projects will be new businesses in their own rights.
What’s the most important thing you’re working on right now, and how are you making it happen?
I think the purchase of Christ Church in Bacup to convert into our offices and a digital hub is probably the thing with the most moving parts that I need to just get over the line. Progress has been necessarily slowed due to the COVID-19 impact. However, we have approval from the Church of England for our offer and plan, we’ve had approval from English Heritage and we’ve received pre-application approval from the local planning team. We are close to submitting planning permission with only a couple of surveys to do. But with everything being up in the air, it’s still necessary to progress at the right pace. Whilst the building is important, in some ways the software we’re developing is the most important project we’re working on. The scale and potential scope it offers the business is huge and could revolutionize how we do business, however, it’s now at the point where it’s in the hands of other people to bring into being and I just need to make sure it doesn’t go off course.
What’s your take on your segmented/targeted Market?
We can work with any business and because of that, it can be a challenge sometimes to nail down exactly who our target market is. We always said we can work with any business no matter what their budget is and we can find something to do for them, but I find myself moving away from that ethos. I am more focused on increasingly working with marketing professionals from more medium to large-sized organizations who have long-term aspirations and a good understanding of what they want to achieve.
What are the challenges you have faced and what are the current challenges? Mention the top three challenges for both.
We have had several false starts over the years. I call this version of GrowTraffic GT V5. There has been a number of difficulties with the business over the years. The first time GrowTraffic started supporting multiple people’s wages we had the backing of a multimillionaire who had already put a lot of money into a failed business but who wanted us to use the GrowTraffic client base I’d built up to pay our wages.
There were promises galore about what we’d achieve if we stuck with him but eventually we recognized that before we saw any of that we’d have to pay back the hundreds of thousands he’d already put into the business and both myself and my partner at the time ended up walking away from the project.
I jumped ship first landing an amazing job and ended up giving the other consultant working on the project all the clients I’d built up over the previous three years, so he could support his family. I got a few of them back over the years but I don’t think I would ever be quite so altruistic about it if it happened to me again. I think having the confidence to go live with the business in a full-time capacity was also difficult.
By the time I’d built the business back up to regularly just about covering a salary, it had become clear my wife – who has a long-term medical condition – was unable to work in a 9-5 job. It was at this point that she started working for the business in a full-time capacity. I recognize now that I probably should have taken this opportunity to take the plunge myself but it didn’t feel like the right time. I began to command increasingly larger salaries from my day job and this meant the goalposts continued to move and I found taking the leap scary. I think this feeling is something that I’ve only just got over in the last year or so, with the pandemic really showing me what I can achieve when we’re up against it.
Also, as the founder of a business, I think at some point you’ve got to accept those things that make you set up a business in the first place are probably the things that don’t make you the best business executive. I believe that people set a business up for one of two reasons, they either want to make more money or they want to have more control over their lives. People will tell you they want both, but one of those will be more important to them.
When I was working in corporate marketing land I was fixated on getting that next salary increase, I used to count down how long I thought I had to stay at a company before I could look somewhere else to get more money. When it came to setting up GrowTraffic my motivation was very different because I just wanted more control of my life. I wanted to make sure I always had an income without being too concerned about the amount I earned and I wanted to be able to come and go as I please and explore other business and social interests. I’m all over the place coming up with things that need doing or projects I want us to work on but I recognize that I’m not great at the operational delivery side of things. My role goes beyond that in many ways and I recognize I have to create the type of business or group of businesses that will accommodate and benefit from that.
Why you have started up? Be specific with your reasons!!
I was made redundant and even though I found a new job within a couple of weeks I wanted to make sure should I ever find myself in that position again, I’d have a backup client base that I could generate an income from. I also recognized that marketers tend to have a short career – it’s generally seen as a young person’s career. I also think the imminent arrival of our son was a motivating factor in making me turn the idea into a reality.
Where do you want to see yourself in the next 5 years?
I want GrowTraffic to be recognized as a leading SEO-focused digital marketing agency that employs something like 20 employees. I want to have built up our software solution and have it recognized and sought out by businesses that have no involvement with GrowTraffic. I’d like our property portfolio to be increasing. Personally, we own an old farmhouse with a few acres of land and I love the lifestyle that affords us. I’d like to be well on the way to replicating that lifestyle somewhere a bit sunnier. I’ve always dreamed of owning a few hectares of land with a house, within walking distance of the Mediterranean Sea. So I’d like to think that goal would at least be in sight by that point.
Please share your learning with fellow Entrepreneurs?
Your brand is not you. For a long time, GrowTraffic was just me and it felt like an extension of my own personality. Other people have come along and helped grow the business into something that I’d aspired for it, but by doing so it takes on different flavors from all those people. That’s a good thing too. As the founder of a business, you’re naturally going to have a huge impact on the direction in which the business goes and it is always going to be personal, but it’s important to recognize that it’s not all about you.
Team Entrepreneur Bus wishes very good luck to Simon & his team to achieve their goals in the coming days. If you wish to get featured your Story/Interview on our platform, please Apply here.