New years often come with resolutions. I have a number of resolutions for myself this year but for the business we don’t do no stinking resolutions. Instead I have put together a 5-year plan with each year outlined in detail. I wanted to take this time to share pieces of that plan for Pole Position Marketing. It’s a bold plan for us but one which I believe is entirely realistic and attainable.
A Look Back: 2001-2005
First a bit of history: I started tracking everything in 2001 back when I was a sole proprietor. While I had been running the business since 1998 I don’t have any specific data for any time prior because it was all integrated as personal income. 2001 was the the first or second year in which I was working full-time without any side jobs. Between 2001 and 2003 the company was just me working out of my house. In 2001 gross income was under $100K which wasn’t too bad for a sole proprietor. If I remember correctly, 2001 income was just about double from the previous year.
So this is where we start with our tracking. In 2002 we saw a drop of 3.5% and then a gain of 2% in 2003 which means that both 2003 and 2003 gross income were less than 2001 but not by a lot. In 2004 I realized that the only way to grow was to bring in some additional talent so I could handle more work and therefore bring in more growth. In April of 2004 I moved out of my home office to a “real” office and hired my first two employees. Income in 2004 grew 65%. In 2005 we leveled off again but still saw a gain of 17%. In 2004/05 we saw a significant loss in profits, largely due to the new office expenses, employees, etc. I also had not raised our prices from my days as a sole proprietor which was a big mistake. It just was not sustainable. I think in 2005 we did a small increase but that still was not enough to sustain the company and pay me a salary. The business borrowed money to keep it afloat.
2006 & 2007
In December of 2006 we raised our prices pretty significantly. Over the course of the year we gained both new clients and “upgraded” existing clients. I had expected to lose about half our client base who would not be willing to pay our new fees and that expectation was about dead on. Even still we saw a 120% growth (gross income) in 2006.
This brings us to the five year plan starting with 2007. We don’t expect another year of 100% growth this year but we are expecting something pretty darn close.
- 75% increase in gross revenue in 2007
- Reduce number of current clients
- Sign one new client each month (on average)
- Build new ventures
- Affiliate sites
- Other avenues of income
- Increase PPC Revenue
- Expand by no more than two full-time employees
- Give each employee a 25% income raise
- Purchase booth at no less than one marketing convention
- Explore new marketing offerings
Our goal is 75% increase in gross revenues for 2007. Interestingly, we also plan on reducing our client load at the same time. So what gives? How can we reduce the number of clients while increasing revenues? Well yet another increase in fees. (Every increase in pricing also brings with it expanded and more robust services.) I plan, over the next year an a half, to bring in no more than one new client each month, all others will be turned away. Our plan calls for steady, consistent growth and the last thing we need is a big burst of new business that we cannot properly manage. So we’ll be extremely selective in who we choose to bring into our client fold over the next 12 months.
At the same time we’ll be reducing our overall client load. As new clients are brought on we’ll be discussing with current clients our new offerings and benefits and give them the opportunity to upgrade. Considering we just did this 12 months ago I don’t expect any more than a couple of current clients to “upgrade” again to the new higher fees. In fact I plan for a 100% client loss, but think it’ll be closer to 90%.
The goal we are trying to achieve here is to be able to serve each of our clients as best as possible. For some that means we need to do a lot more than what was presented in their original contract. If the client can’t afford to have us take the time to turn their site into a phenomenal marketing & business machine then ultimately they are not right for us.
Over the next year we also plan to build some additional streams of income. This includes building sites to garner affiliate income as well as bringing some other ideas to fruition. This is the boldest part of our plan because if some of these don’t work out the way we plan we definitely won’t hit our goal. We also do quite a bit of PPC management but I hope to expand that significantly over the next 12 months.
That wraps up goals to bring in more gross income. As we do that the plan is to expand by no more than two full-time employees. Again, by reducing the number of clients we’ll be free to grow without having to create an assembly line SEO. The other issue here is that our new office cannot accommodate any more than two employees without having to move the pool table out and we know that’s not going to happen! Seriously though, I don’t know if we’ll actually be able to keep the number of employees as limited as I want as I already have two new positions in mind, and possibly more.
As for my employees they are all underpaid. Actually, their pay is pretty decent for Reno but I know they could easily take their skills to another city and get paid a lot more. If we can reach our goals this year everybody gets a 25% raise. How’s that for lighting a fire under them!
We also are beginning plans of getting exhibitor space at one of the SES conventions. This goes into our branding and name recognition initiatives much more than as a sales effort to bring in new clients.
Finally, we are always looking for ways to expand what we do and offer more. This year we’ll be looking at new strategies and new offerings to bring to our clients, which will help create better SEO services all together.
A Look Forward: 2007-2011
The bulleted list for 2008 and beyond look very much the same as 2007 but with slightly different expectations. In 2008 we want to see another 80% increase in gross revenue. This will be the result in yet more increased fees and fewer clients yet again. Another increase? Yes, Virginia, another increase. Why you ask? Well, let me put this into perspective: Many SEOs are charging $500/hour. We are not. In fact our current pricing structure is based on less than half that amount. But that still doesn’t make us cheap and we know that. We sell 12-month SEO packages that include 200-350 man-hours which includes actual implementation (not just reports and advice) from a team of experts in various areas (copy, SEO, links, usability, etc..) The bottom line is that we are worth every penny we charge because we always make sure our clients bring in a positive ROI!
By the end of 2008 we should have half the number of clients than in 2006. This ensures that we are able to invest quality time for each client without having to jump back and forth between too many accounts. I hope to, again, keep the new employees to a minimum in 2008. We also want to increase in all our other areas such as affiliate sites, PPC management income, etc. Again, if we hit our goals we plan to give our employees another significant raise. I firmly believe an expert is worth their due and I want to make sure that I don’t give my employees a reason to bolt for greener pastures.
Again, in 2009 we hope to expand further. We’ll definitely be bringing on new employees to handle new areas of marketing as well as to be able to provide the highest quality services to even more clients. I will never allow Pole Position Marketing to become an SEO factory but I’m not afraid of growth, provided as its done evenly and with the ability to meet every client’s need and allow for their maximum success.
In 2010 we hope to get another 55% growth and then an additional 35% in 2011. None of the growth from 2009-2011 is based on increased fees though that’s always a possibility based on our strategic offering. This increase is solely from bringing in more clients in a very measured way and growing some of the other areas of income at the same time.
As I said above, we’ll never be an SEO factory. In fact, we don’t even think of ourselves as an SEO firm. We are web marketing firm. This mindset feeds into the types of services we offer in our SEO packages.
This plan is a very bold plan. We may not hit it dead on but we have something to work for. I’m not afraid of failing, but I am afraid of failing for lack of trying. And before anybody thinks this plan is based only on raising prices, you’re dead wrong. We know, without a single doubt, that we ABSOLUTELY must justify those prices with results. In fact, this plan is based on nothing less than results. We fail there, we fail everywhere.