You can’t save your way into profitability

A few years after I purchased ECI Agency, we began facing significant cashflow challenges.

The economic downturn had just happened, and the bonuses we were used to receiving from the umbrella partnership we were a part of had stopped coming.

I found myself needing to listen to advice I’d given to store managers years before, including one piece of advice that really hit home: You can’t save your way into profitability.

A lot of companies, when they’re struggling, will cut advertising and cut salaries—I even know of one store manager who turned half of his store’s lights off to try to save money.

But you can’t make more sales by saving money. We decided that we were either going to lose it all, or we were going to change. We decided to make a change.

Our website was pretty basic at that point. It was a template website, and anything we wanted to add or change had to be done on the back end of the website. It worked fine, but we weren’t really getting any business from it.

About this time, the company that we’d purchased our website from called us and asked if we’d like to be part of a pilot program for a new service they were offering: ASEO, or Advanced Search Engine Optimization.

I thought SEO was one of those things where if you just put the information out there, it would automatically work. But that’s not how it works, and the fact that we were only having about 50 hits on our website every month (and no business from that) showed me that what we were doing wasn’t effective.

This company promised to get us to show up in the search engines by setting up social media and blogging, among other things. The only catch was, it was a lot of money for us at that time. We weren’t sure we could afford it, honestly—but we also couldn’t really afford to not make a change like this.

Ultimately, this decision was a home run for us. Our website views jumped to 300 to 400 the first month. The day I knew we’d made it, we received a phone call on a Friday afternoon from a janitorial contractor who had discovered us online and needed to have worker’s comp insurance by that Sunday. Somehow we got it done, and that one sale nearly paid for the ASEO in its entirety.

Now, we show up for about 30 different search phrases, and we even won best insurance website in the nation one year. I’ve learned a lot about SEO since we’ve started. But we still use that same company that offered us the ASEO years ago because it has launched so much increased business for us (and continues to do so).

My advice to you, if you’re considering search engine optimization? Find a professional that you trust. It takes a lot more than simply having a website, and that particular industry is changing all the time.

Working with someone you trust can help improve your online visibility. And they can keep your company up to date with best practices while giving you time to focus on your business.

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