Market smarter, not harder is on the frontpage of Smart Digital’s website. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Smart Digital offers digital marketing services like website design, social media management and more. In this interview for Website Planet
we interviewed the CEO, Cedrick Webb, to know more about the operation side of the company, how to deal with small businesses and also a very important project involving scholarships.
Check out the interview below.
Please present Smart Digital to our audience.
Smart Digital is a digital marketing company for small, local businesses, specializing in websites, search engine optimization (SEO), Google AdWords, social media management and posting.
We work with small businesses in whatever their digital marketing needs are and help them be found and hired online, generating more leads.
What differentiates Smart Digital from the competitors in its area of work?
I think what differentiates Smart Digital from our competition is the fact that we are face-to-face working with businesses locally, going to their shops and offices. We get to know their businesses and try to make good recommendations that we believe will help them be able to grow and have a lot of success with our programs.
Do you have a case to present in which you changed strategy after knowing better the clients’ necessities?
We have a lot of businesses that were previously with other marketing companies and we were able to win them over. I think for most businesses there’s a marketing campaign on which they are working but is distant, with many things that are auto generated and they don’t really see or hear from them nor establish a relationship.
So, we get out in front of them and meet them, and then it gives a big shift in their mindset, realizing that they can work with a local marketing company that sees and understands them and that will give good, honest suggestions and feedback for their businesses.
In many cases, we discovered that they probably didn’t need to do things they were doing. Whenever we help businesses to be a little smarter with their marketing dollars, it’s a big relief for them and flips their way of thinking of working with marketing companies.
Are you focused on working with a specific industry or do you serve multiple areas?
Our demand is pretty diverse, but we’ve done really well with service-based businesses. We specialize the most in local services such as roofers, plumbers, heating and cooling, dentist, attorney and many others.
You mentioned the bad use of resources. What do you see as the main mistakes a company makes when creating a website?
The biggest mistake I’ve seen from a business or other marketing companies is websites understanding local geography when it comes to on-page SEO.
Many times, off-page SEO can be done. But to be done locally, to understand the business’ categories and geographies and how to make that rank locally using on-page SEO, I feel it’s a ball that has already been dropped. If a marketing company can hone on that and provide a good mix of on and off page optimization and technical optimization, it can really help out businesses be found and hired online.
SEO is really tough and it takes time. How can you deliver consistent results without a large budget to spend?
I think the key is trying to make the right recommendations. SEO can take a long time and we don’t necessarily sell SEO programs alone. If we are doing a Google AdWords program, we’ll include a bit of SEO in it. Or if we’re doing the website maybe we can add a little extra SEO in conjunction with it.
One of the things I’ve learned is that businesses ultimately just want to have a better online presence. Many times, they don’t care how the leads are coming in or where they are coming from, as much as the fact that they are coming in.
I use this analogy: if I’d give you 20 dollars, you probably wouldn’t care if this money came from my left pocket or my right pocket as long as you’ve got the 20 dollars. It’s the same thing for small businesses. We do programs that provide good level services and they are going to see the results. Seeing improvement is the biggest thing.
Is it difficult to deal with small businesses and talking directly to owners?
Honestly, I prefer to talk to the owner of the business just because it helps us to be able to understand more of it even more and the direction they are going, to be able to make the right recommendations. While some may not understand a lot of the things we say regarding being found online, we really try to specialize in being able to communicate complex strategies in simple ways to help them feel more comfortable with what we are doing.
One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that confused people don’t buy. So, we paint the pictures in a way that it makes sense and is relevant to them to understand what they are getting and what the relationship will look like.
What are Smart Digital’s plans for the next 3 or 5 years?
Our team thinks about it all the time. We are in Saint Louis, right in the middle of the United States and we also have an office in Kansas City. Right now, we have clients in a 4-state region of Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas with a few other businesses sprinkled throughout the country. In 3 or 5 years, we want to be in pretty much every major metropolitan area in the US, always with the local approach.
Please tell us about Small Digital’s scholarship project.
Thanks for asking about it! It’s one of the things I’m most proud of from all the things I’ve done with the business. It’s called the Smart Digital Hero Maker Scholarship. It’s not an academic nor an athletic scholarship, but rather a character scholarship. We want to find people who’ve overcome tough situations in their lives – maybe the odds or complex backgrounds, for instance – to partner up with them to get into college.
We commit 1,000 dollars to each student per semester, for up to 4 years. We want to find people who are driven to succeed, regardless of their situation or circumstances, and we think these people are the key to changing the world and influencing it for the better.