Tony Wright is well-known in our industry; he is on the SEMPO board and also is a regular speaker at conferences like Pubcon and SMX. He’ll also be a panelist at our SEJ Summit in Dallas conference on March 31st, which we still have a few spots open for (request an invite now)! Our keynote panel is an AMA format and past AMAs have been known to include juicy tidbits and unique insight that make it a must-see.
The SEJ Summit conference ticket cost is being covered by our partner, Searchmetrics, which delivers enterprise SEO and content marketing analysis, recommendations, forecasting, and reporting for companies who want potential customers to find them faster.
If you aren’t in the Dallas area and won’t be able to attend that Summit, don’t lose hope! The SEJ Summit will be at five other locations this year: Chicago, London, NYC, Atlanta, and San Francisco.
Here’s my interview with Tony:
1. You started WrightIMC in 2007 and are still its CEO. How has your career as a search and social media expert helped shape your leadership and entrepreneurial skills?
I truly believe that search and social are at the heart of all marketing today. With the data we can glean from even a simple keyword list, we can identify target markets, create personas, and truly move marketing to the next level.
From a leadership standpoint, this not only helps me to teach my team how to make dynamic campaigns for clients, it also allows me to understand almost everyone I interact with on a daily basis. I’m a big fan of servant leadership and empathy. And there is no better thing than to create empathy – or to put yourself in someone else’s shoes – than to understand what they are searching for and how they are communicating their needs to their peers.
2. The Entrepreneur category is one of the fastest growing categories on SEJ, in terms of social shares and traffic. Do you think the internet marketing industry has a special relationship with the startup/entrepreneur “world”? Why or why not?
I’m not a huge fan of lumping the “entrepreneur” and “startup” world together. I consider myself an entrepreneur. I haven’t taken a huge sum of money from investors.
[pullquote]I think the true measure of whether you are an entrepreneur or not is whether or not you’ve ever had to sit up at night worrying about how you are going to make payroll.[/pullquote]There are, of course, venture funded companies that must worry about that. But to me, a “startup” and an “entrepreneur” are not necessarily the same thing.
Both start-ups and entrepreneurs face tremendous pressure to show a positive ROI. Therefore, digital marketing is a truly measurable tactic – that frankly is still cheaper than most traditional media. So both groups are drawn to the medium. Unfortunately, for many startups, especially those with new ideas, it’s hard to get the ball moving for a new product or service with search engine marketing. Content marketing works better, but in the end, the best way to move a new idea and product is still through branding – both online and offline. Traditional entrepreneurs who are selling an established service have a much better chance of success in the measurable world of search engine marketing and can benefit from social and content marketing (although the measurement is a bit more difficult).
3. Along with WrightIMC, you’re also a regular speaker at Pubcon and other well-known conferences. What are three tips you have for consultants and experts wanting to use speaking as a way to grow their business and presence in their industry?
My best tip is to attend the show and get to know the people who organize them. Ask smart questions as an audience members. Get to know the speakers. Once people know who you are, it’s not that hard to get a speaking gig. Find the shows you want to speak at and attend them. Become known and get a speaking gig. It’s as easy as that. You can also write something amazing on your own blog or for a site like Search Engine Journal. Create amazing things, get speaking gigs.
4. What are a few aspects of search, social, content, etc that you still love being involved with (e.g. building backlinks, writing blog posts), and why?
I love being involved in the overall strategy. Figuring out what strategies and tactics are going to work for each client. It’s different for every single one! Of course, there are tried and true formulas, but once those formulas hit the wild web, they sometimes crumble. Being able to pivot quickly and understand what is going on still gives me an adrenaline rush. [pullquote]I’m a big picture thinker, and I tend to look for the long-term plays. [/pullquote]But short-term wins are what make a client stick around, so I enjoy the balancing act this dynamic brings to the table.
5. Finally, WrightIMC offers reputation management (one area you commonly speak about). What is another area of digital marketing that is most closely tied to successful reputation management?
Reputation management has changed drastically in the last few years. In most cases, we aren’t looking to “push down” negative results in the SERPS. It’s more of a holistic strategy. We want to make sure that every employee knows they are responsible for the reputation of the company, A sloppy janitor can mean a bad Yelp review, which can mean big bucks for a company. Employee education, social media policies, and monitoring are essential to any reputation management program.
Unfortunately, most people only think of that AFTER the crisis hits. As I always say, trying to do PR during a crisis is much like trying to eat a salad during a heart attack. It’s too late.
Thanks for such great insight, Tony! It’s easy to see why you’re so successful. We’d love to hear audience feedback and experiences with entrepreneurship in the comments below.
Remember, spots are still open for our upcoming SEJ Summit in Dallas on March 31st. The SEJ Summit will also be at these other locations later this year: Chicago, London, NYC, Atlanta, and San Francisco.
Featured Image: nenetus via Shutterstock