What Being An Entrepreneur Means To Me

So typically I write my blogs about the latest tips or trends in the digital advertising industry, but today I wanted to just take a few minutes to really talk about what being an entrepreneur means to me.

Growing up, my biggest role model was always my grandpa. He really had it together, I thought he had it all–boat, nice big house, multiple cars, property… I was always so proud. The one thing I’ll never forget is that he told me that he had never been rich. Ten-year-old me thought that was crazy. But it was the truth. He was a musician who dropped out of college, but he was also a sailor, a veteran, eventually a graduate, and a business owner. The point in all of this is that he was smart and had a great business mind. He saved, he invested and essentially he succeeded.

Now, I find myself surrounded by a lot of the same type of people. People who don’t always go by what society says, people who think outside of the box, and most of all people who take risks. I don’t think being an entrepreneur is about college, your job, punching a clock or even what someone can teach you or tell you what to do. It’s a lot bigger than that. I think it’s about people who can see something out of nothing, who will work for what they want, and continue to break barriers.

What Being An Entrepreneur Means To Me

It definitely starts with the little things. It’s about showing up early to work, not because you have to but because you want to. It’s about talking about work more than anything, not because you hate it but because you love it. It’s about coming up with new ideas or addressing concerns and not just talking about them, but actually doing them. You take the extra responsibility at work, not because you are going to get a raise or a bonus, but because you actually want to do it. I find myself very passionate about the digital advertising industry, and I think the passion stems from helping other businesses grow and succeed, and truly being a part of it.

In the four years that I have been with SS Digital Media (or what used to be Skislak Digital Advertising), I have seen some amazing things happen. I have seen individuals succeed, the company succeed and overall I believe we’ve made an impact. What once was just me and Nick has grown into 3x the accounts, 3x the revenue, more employment opportunities (at our firm and at the companies we work for), more students with real-world experience (and actually getting jobs!) and limitless possibilities for the future.

Entrepreneurs Are a Different Breed

Someone close once told me that there are two kinds of people in this world. Doers and talkers. People who talk about doing big things and people who actually do big things. I am definitely a doer and I think that’s what my grandpa was, and who the people I surround myself with today are.


Welcome to 2014 Where Digital Marketing Is the New CRM

There are two different types of people in the business world, people that understand why digital marketing is a must and those who just don’t understand it.  First, the people that have identified the value of digital marketing are way ahead of the game.  We are the early adaptors of the Internet who saw a global market and jumped in headfirst, and continue to work with the constant changes of technology. Then there are those who have not truly seen the value of what digital marketing actually is. Digital marketing is engaging with your customers before, during and after your sale. You have a continuous store front that stays open 24/7 all while branding your business. Digital marketing is the new CRM because it provides analytics, engagement and real time data. Customer relationship management was originally created to help organizations understand customer behaviors, but social media, Google Analytics and other digital marketing tools have taken this to the next level without the pricey software.

Identify, Engage and MAKE MONEY

1. No Identity Crisis Here: Digital Marketing identifies who your market is, what their interests are, and what they’re searching for.  Tools that can help you are Google Analytics, Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner.  

2. Say “Yes” To This Engagement: All the social media channels that are available allow you to engage with your audience at all times. You can connect with your customer and potential customers like never before. Target their interests and connect; not only does it build trust it helps keep your brand fresh.

3. “Mo’ Traffic Mo’ Sales”: The more you build your online presence the more likely you are to increase sales. Your Web page can help build your reputation to result in an increase of sales, and brand loyalty to keep your customers coming back and spreading the word!

Customer relationship management has kept businesses flourishing for years.  But, with technology comes change, and although CRM is still important the dynamics have changed. The concept is still to understand your customer behaviors to create brand loyalty and customer satisfaction, but without the pricey CRM software. Your customers are now digital and so should you.

3.14 Things I Love About the Internet

3.14 Things I Love About the Internet

Serious number significance is happening as I type. In honor of Pi Day, I’ve thought about this blog for 3.14 hours, & have typed it in 314 characters (spaces included, I’m not crazy) per paragraph. So whether you’d prefer your Pi apple, cherry, octo, or pizza; here are 3.14 things that I love about the Internet:

1. The Internet makes anything possible. The World Wide Web is at your fingertips, literally. The possibilities are endless. If I felt the need to exist in the forefront of people’s minds as Carol the 27 year old yoga instructor from Missouri, I totally could. I wouldn’t, but I could. Catfishers, I’m looking at you.

2. The joke’s on you – and you, and you, and me. Rumor has it that average joke intake per human lifespan has increased. But seriously, I can’t think of a better source for positive things existing in the world today than the people online who create all of the interesting, funny, punny, and clever jokes. Thank you!

3. What does Britney Spears look like with a dinosaur body? Now you can solve all of life’s greatest questions. There is no longer an excuse to leave your mind void of information. We are curious & nosey creatures. We just need to know things. Google doesn’t judge, it’s okay. Go for it. Usually, you don’t regret it.

4. This

The Art of Getting Clicks

After hours of slaving away creating the wittiest and most well-researched blog post EVER, it can be disheartening to discover that all of your hard work resulted in a whopping total of one or two clicks. You could write the most clever, interesting and entertaining post of all time but if no one is clicking on your links, sadly all of your efforts have gone to waste. With the rapid supply of information floating around on the Internet, getting any clicks at all can be a difficult thing to accomplish. But if you utilize a few simple strategies, pretty soon readers won’t be able to STOP clicking!

Choose Titles Wisely

When writing a piece of content, people tend to not put much thought into the way the title is written. But this is actually a key factor in how people determine whether or not they want to click and read more. The point of a title is to open up that gap in knowledge and make the reader wonder and want to learn more. Titles must never be too vague or too specific. And for SEO purposes, try to incorporate keywords whenever possible. The writers of Buzzfeed, one of the dominant forces when it comes to viral content, actually make a list of 25 different title ideas for each content piece before voting on the best one. This may seem excessive, but clearly it works!

Don’t Let Your Images Tell the Whole Story

When it comes to selecting thumbnail images to place alongside your title, it is important to peak the interest of the reader without giving away too much information. An image that represents the article topic too literally is predictable and will not entice the reader to click and learn more. For example, if you are writing an article about how vegetables are good for you, readers will move on when they see a static image of fresh vegetables in a bowl. Try thinking outside the box and opt for images that relate to your topic without giving it all away. Also, your title and thumbnail image should always play off each other.

Keep Them Wanting More

When constructing social media posts, never give everything away right then and there. If you are posting a link to your blog post on your Facebook page, do not post a 5-sentence summary of your article within your Facebook post. If you do this, you have already given them a synopsis of what your article is about so they will feel that reading your entire article is not necessary. Instead, try to leave the reader hanging. Build up the excitement and give them a reason to click and read the full story. Give the impression that you have something of value to offer your reader and that the information you provide is worth seeking out.


To Charlie LeDuff from Nick Skislak

american autopsyFirst off, I have to admit; I’m not a true ‘Detroiter’. I grew up just north of Grand Rapids in the country. I moved to Royal Oak after college in 2006. But, as so many people do, I told all of my family and friends I was moving to Detroit. Their replies were all the same, “What the hell are you moving to Detroit for?” The reason was the only logical reason anyone would move from safe small town, Grand Rapids, to heat packing wild west Detroit, a woman. I should mention, it wasn’t just a woman, it was my wife. I didn’t tell many people truth about that, I told them I was going for the opportunities. I’d received my degree from WMU in advertising and told everyone that there was more opportunity over here, which is true. Thinking back I was naive, but very hungry, ready to work. Moving here was very intimidating for a kid from the country. The traffic, the culture, and all the people overwhelmed me. It took me two months of diligent phone calls to Campbell-Ewald before they finally hired me, I think so they didn’t have to listen to my phone calls and voicemails any longer. I lasted a year, got another gig for a smaller agency in Royal Oak, then started my own agency in 2008. I was 25 years old and didn’t have a clue about anything, about life, business, Detroit, nothing. I was just hungry and motivated and most of the time that is plenty. I remember making cold calls from my one bedroom apartment trying to drum up business, while the whole world was falling apart around me. I remember watching the news and feeling embarrassed, my friends from back home would call me after seeing Mr. Kilpatrick on the news and ask me what the hell was going on. I didn’t know, I just knew it wasn’t something I was proud of. Sex scandals, text messages, people dying, fires burning, housing market plummeting and the big 3 taking private jets to Washington to get money, I know, Ford went for support.

Somehow, I slowly became a part of it, and it felt good. I, as most business pros, have a certain level of self-torment we put ourselves through, never happy with the job we are doing, always feeling like we aren’t doing enough or doing it right. The misery going on in Detroit gave me something more to worry about, something to attach myself to, something I started to become apart of. Twisted, I suppose so, but I got a lot of satisfaction talking to my peers about the situations that were going on, and as you know, there was a lot to talk about.

As I read your book, I had to give myself breaks, so I read a few chapters and then picked up the Bible to reverse some of the effects. As I was reading, I remembered living through these events, there I was, 25, putting everything on the line to build a business and a life for my wife, and myself and the city of Detroit was making a mockery of it, a mockery of my work, my persistence and my new life here. When it was happening I told myself Detroiters did this to each other. My perception was that everyone was ripping each other off and now it was coming back around. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The pain, the damage and the corruption didn’t come from the people of the city of Detroit. The people Detroiters trusted to steer them in the right direction stabbed them in the back. That is one thing everyone in the country should grasp from this autopsy, it wasn’t on the people of the city. Detroiters have been stripped of everything, not just jobs and neighborhoods; I’m talking about pride, hope, love and community. These things are necessary to live. When people lose hope, people lose themselves. And when people lose themselves horrible things happen. These are the things we are working to restore today. This is why I’m still here. This is the Detroit of today, battered and broken hearted but hopeful thanks to the people of this city.

Happy Birthday, Mac!

Today marks exactly three decades since Steve Jobs launched the Apple Macintosh, two days after the now-iconic 1984 commercial teased the computer to the world during Super Bowl XVIII. Apple put together a video to celebrate its 30 year milestone – you can watch it below. Happy birthday Mac!

What You Really Need to Know: Running Successful AdWords Campaigns

Running a Successful Google AdWords Campaign

The longer I do this job, the more I realize how many people out there are managing AdWords campaigns that simply just have no clue what they are doing. So what, Google sent you a coupon with a simple step-by-step setup guide, it doesn’t make you an expert. The real issue with this is how many of these people are just wasting a ton of money. These same people tend to complain that AdWords doesn’t work, and they see no value in it. When you’re purchasing keywords that are not relevant to your business and driving them to a crappy website page, you won’t find any value. Here are just some of the things I look for when running an AdWords campaign that helps to make it a successful one.

1. Start with Your AdWords Settings

Running Successful Business Campaigns

It all starts in your settings. Don’t rush this part; you can save a lot of money in the long run by doing this properly. Think about your business and its goals. Ask yourself some simple questions like what are my operating hours? Do I want my ads to show during off hours? What locations do I want my ads to appear in? What about days of the week? Should I turn off my campaigns on the weekends? Is my website setup for mobile-friendly browsing? Finding these answers will help you setup custom scheduling, bidding, and other key aspects that will make your campaign successful. Find more information on Google AdWords settings here.

2. Get Your Campaigns Organized

I could pull my hair out thinking about some of the accounts that I’ve seen. I may leave my desk messy from time to time, but no way by choice am I leaving an AdWords account unorganized. Google will tell you to organize by service or product category, and that is just the start. But you must dive deeper than that. If you are a shoe store, sure you offer shoes, but what types of shoes, women’s, men’s, children’s, flip-flops, high heels? What about colors, sizes, etc.? Where does that fit in? My recommendation is to start with broad strokes and work your way down, and don’t be afraid to organize it, and reorganize it again and again. Google has made it easier than ever to copy and paste adgroups and keywords, which will save you time and money in the long run. Watch a how to video on organizing Google AdWords accounts here.

3. Buying the Right Keywords

Buying the right keywords doesn’t mean just picking the keywords that you want; it’s using the keywords that people are already using to find your products and services. It’s definitely important to not get caught up in what you think, and really start finding out how the customer thinks. Even if you have a good keyword list, it’s important to test it. Are these keywords driving the right traffic? Am I getting weird irrelevant phone calls/leads? How does my bounce rate look? Are people coming into my website and just leaving? A good thing I always use is the Search Terms insight feature. This allows me to identify keywords that need to be removed, and ones that need to be added. Negative keywords are a positive thing. Grow your negative lists! This should be done regularly.

Use these great tools to help you generate the right keyword lists:

4. Quality, Quality and more Quality

I cannot stress enough the importance of quality score. This needs to be looked at regularly, and cannot be ignored. Quality scores affect positions, pricing and the overall performance of your campaigns. If you have low quality scores on keywords… you’re doing something wrong! That’s just the bottom line. Something isn’t adding up. Whether you have the wrong keywords connected to wrong ads or your landing page is just terrible, something isn’t working, and I promise you are paying for it. Sometimes the fix is as simple as organizing your account better, and sometimes it requires website changes. Find more details on improving your ad quality here.

5. Pay Attention to Your Visitors

Okay, so your ads are running and everything looks good, but how are your results? Are you getting leads? Phone calls? Where are your visitors going once they visit your site? This is the most common piece that is overlooked. Sometimes results can be improved by altering your website layout, color schemes, content, etc. Some common things to note:

  • Make sure your phone number is visible and the user doesn’t have to look for it
  • Install contact forms with conversion codes on every landing page
  • Make sure the page is relevant and offers value to your visitor
  • Test it! Don’t stop when campaigns are doing well, split test your landing pages and optimize your results!

These are just a few aspects to consider when running successful AdWords campaigns. Remember this stuff is always changing, and to never stop improving or keeping up with the current trends and updates.

Dirty Jobs? Dirty Advice.

When I was in high school, I truly believed that a college education was my future. Not because I didn’t understand there were other options, but because that’s what was ingrained in me. My Grandpa graduated from high school, took a job in the mailroom at Pontiac Motor Division, and worked his way up until he retired there at the age of 53 (yes yes, different times). I knew this. It didn’t matter.

A Year in Review – 2013’s Top Top 10 Lists

Looking back at this year, there are just way too many stories, scandals and innovations to keep track of. Thankfully, TIME graciously grouped together all the top 10 lists of 2013 in their cleverly titled page, Top Ten Everything of 2013. These lists cover everything of the past year and will help anyone recount the good, the bad, the ugly and, of course, the humourous. Now if you’re starting the new year with a busy schedule and don’t have the time to look through all of TIME’s some 55 odd top-ten lists, I’ve picked out a couple that I found worth mentioning or just interesting.

3 Key Essentials to Increase Business in 2014

Did you know it is estimated that nearly 50 million websites were created in 2013? Or that there are over 274 million active internet users in North America alone? A viable web presence is increasingly becoming one of the most important assets for any company doing business today, so here are 3 keys essentials to maximize your online marketing efforts in 2014.