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Creating value in your SEM business

Amplify Interactive’s notes from SMX Advanced Seattle 2008

This topic is especially pertinent to me as Amplify grows beyond a small consultancy is the subject of how to build more value beyond the client list. I kept a few notes below, and some numbers & things were great for reference, but the most interesting and compelling takeaways from me were for this session were related to employees & retention. As Bruce Clay mentioned – it takes a lot of time & investment to teach people to do what we do.

Sean McMahon – EngineWorks

Need to build value beyond your client engagements & hourly/project model

  • value in the marketplace will take care of itself
  • assemble the best team possible
  • execute on your business model
  • build on the foundation

Engineworks – builds value by capitalizing on what search marketing can do better than any other medium, which is integrating client messaging & targeting based on the learnings from an exhaustive keyword process.

Regarding the above – having a familiarity and relationship with the guys at Engineworks, I was not really surprised to hear this – but I was surprised to hear that this is what Engineworks sells as it’s USP. This is something we feel we bring to the table as well, talk to clients about quite a bit, and believe in a great deal as well.
Bruce Clay – Bruce Clay, Inc.

High value assets: staff, tools, training, methodologies, quick-follow capability, and service

Cost of training people to do search is time intensive = expensive

account managers manage 3 things: deliver to contract, interview the client to understand expectations, every client must become a testimonial

train clients like employees – so they don’t have to train them again every time they get on the call – projects go much faster

Valuation

  • client list & phone numbers
  • procedure documentation
  • accounting information audited past 3 years
  • employee audit with hr interviews especially top execs & key employees
  • business plan
  • Retention/renewal/satisfaction is key
  • Valuation is commonly 4.3x revenue or 11.3 times EBITDA

Matt Naeger – Impaqt

Keep your reputation in mind – what are you comfortable managing, only take clients that fit the size of your company… in other words, don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge: post on blogs, write articles that give real opinions, tell your clients what you know even if it isn’t related to your project

Must retain employees – employees are more valuable than clients

Q&A

Make it valuable for your core employees to stay on, especially for first 5 years, and give them incentive to create value because there will be a reward

Related Links & Coverage

SMX on Twitter
SE Roundtable recap

Ben Lloyd

About Ben Lloyd

Ben Lloyd serves as Principal at Add3 and manages the agency’s Portland office.  Ben got his start in SEM way back in 1999 – when there was like, 15 search engines and Google was barely a thing. Prior to Add3, Ben had founded Amplify Interactive in 2003 (which was acquired by Add3 in 2013), and hasn’t looked back since. Ben likes lots of stuff like golf, pinball, food(ie), booze/beer/wine – in that order, etc. Mostly – he likes doing that stuff with his friends. Ben is also co-founder of SEMpdx. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn