As all of you know, this business was created with $5,000 to prove the principles in the book. CastleWave indeed was profitable from day one, generated over $1MM the first year at 50% margin and this past year did apx $1.4 MM. We have offices in both NYC and Utah and presently have 23 employees and apx 30 active clients ranging from smaller companies like Bank On Youself to large customers such as OpenTable and IMax.
It's been a lot of fun and quite educational enjoying their friendship and working with a few mutual clients. I can't wait to see the next chapter in their lives unfold!
There's another very strong benefit that I haven't mentioned. It's a bit more complex because there's not much you can do about it. It all takes place in Google's mighty brain, and on your own browser…as explained by SEOmoz.
Personalized search is now on by default. This means that every click, branded search, and expression of a "brand preference" or "brand affinity" in Google's results is likely to result in preferential biasing towards that domain in future searches. A "Google" Pontiac message during this Superbowl wouldn't just send users to their site, it would also mean that tens of millions of searchers would now be "personalized" towards that domain.
This means the more I search for your brand, the stronger your brand will show up in my own searches, on my own computer. This doesn't apply to search results across the web because it is a part of "personalized search" which is an individualized component of Google's system. It's the kind of thing that used to feel kind of creepy to us, but now that we're desensitized, and now that they aren't so blatant about it, feels ok.
Humorous sidenote…if you spend a lot of time Googling your competitors by name, you'll likely see their results go up, and your brand decline on your own computer. Frustrating? Yes. Worrisome? No.
SUGGESTION: If you dominate search results for your name, instead of telling people to "click over to acme-heating.com" start telling them to "Google Acme Heating!"
If you have a generic name like "Denver Heating and Air," this isn't likely to work for you because a search for your name will also show all of your competitors as well.
The truth is, most folks will search for your name anyway because it's easier than remembering your exact domain. Even if they do remember your domain, they're just as likely to type it into Google as they are to type it into the address bar. That's why "google" is one of the most searched phrases on Yahoo and vice-versa. Given the choice (or not knowing the alternatives) people will do the easiest thing.
So, tell them in your ads to do the easiest thing!
Here's the old Pontiac commercial they mentioned in the SEOmoz article:
We launched a new client web site last week for ProsoundUSA.com, a company that specializes in improving the phone experience of your customers. Instead of just providing "on-hold messages" and those automated attendant systems that we've all come to hate, ProsoundUSA owner Chester Hull makes it his business to learn about yours BEFORE attempting to tell you what your message should be.
In fact, he takes it one step further and will evaluate how your living, breathing, real-life staff is doing on the phones. His phone evaluation service costs just $149 and if it saves just one sale, would be worth it to most businesses. Followups include not only his message writing and production, but customized phone etiquette training for your staff.
I don't normally gush like this about clients, but Chester is a kindred soul to those of us who believe that building a brand is more than just a cool logo and a funny ad. Chester knows that a brand is built only at that place where the customer's world intersects with the business's world. The phones are often the very first point of contact.
If delivering an outstanding experience to your callers is important to your business, Prosound is your first stop. Take a listen to his on-hold message samples and you'll understand how he's different. And, be sure to subscribe to Chester's on-hold marketing blog, he's got a lot to say about your phones.
That is, we spent a great deal of time getting to understand Prosound's customers and their motivations…what points of information are important to them and in what order. Only after we understood his business, could we begin to map out pages, sketch out designs and get to the point where most web developers begin their process.
Kinda sounds like the same approach Chester takes, huh?