In a world where everyone is oversold and exposed to advertisements at every turn, I often find that the best way to sell is not to sell. Simply, communicate.
Damon Burton began his career as an entrepreneur back in 1999 when he was exposed to web design. What started as a hobby became a profitable “side job.” After a few years working as a designer of banner and email creatives tailored towards the affiliate marketing industry, he started DAB Empire Inc. in 2007. This company would later serve as the parent entity for his two core businesses, SEOnational.com and UtahSites.com.
SEOnational.com is an enterprise-level search engine optimization company based just north of Salt Lake City, Utah. Mr. Burton’s SEO National prides their operations on efficient procedures and streamlined fulfillment models. SEO National fulfills for multi-million dollar businesses to INC5000 recognized companies. With a track record of regularly doubling in revenue and, outside of SEO, growing largely by word of mouth from satisfied customers, SEO National must be doing something right.
As a believer in supporting the local community, Damon Burton also started UtahSites.com, a web design company aimed at helping local small businesses get online.
Mr. Burton’s intuition for the constantly evolving world of search engine optimization has led him to be quoted on Dell.com, SweetProcess, and by Rasmussen College. He will also be speaking at the highly anticipated 2016 Amazon conference and internet marketing convention, PROSPER Show, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Where did the idea for SEO National come from?
SEO National’s parent company, DAB Empire Inc, was founded in 2007. We started with a focus on web design and affiliate marketing landing page designs. We grew particularly well with our niche in the affiliate marketing creative design space.
About two years into operations we had an increasing number of requests from clients to help them with increasing their presence on search engines. We took on a few campaigns and experienced great success. We quickly migrated operations towards focusing on offering search engine optimization as our core service.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up at 5 am and get in an hour or two of work. During that quiet time I often get more done than the rest of the day.
Family is very important to me. I spend every morning with my wife and kids. When I hear them waking up after an hour or two of working, I head upstairs and spend an hour or two with them.
After breakfast with the family I work a few more hours, then take a break mid-day, again, to spend with my family.
Depending on how productive the day was, I usually wrap up between 3 pm and 5 pm. The rest of the evening is family time.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I consistently ask, “is there an easier way?” in most everything I do. If there’s a better way to streamline a process or make it more efficient I will try it. It may work. It may not. Trying is the key. Instead of waiting for an idea to be perfect, it’s better to try something that works a little and see if there’s even a remote chance of it being improved and benefiting the company or our customers.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
People abandoning traditional 9-5 jobs. There’s so much opportunity in the world. Not everyone will make it on their own, but I hope that everyone has the opportunity to at least try.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I make a habit of minimizing how frequently I check emails. I try and only check emails once or twice per day. As long as I check emails and reply on at least a daily basis, nothing gets missed, and I get a whole lot more accomplished.
I also streamline setting appointments as much as possible. I use an appointment scheduling system that gives contacts a real-time look at my availability. It doesn’t show any personal details. It simply shows hours that I’m busy and hours that I’m available. Contacts can easily compare their available times against mine and then continue to schedule an appointment. The whole process is hands-off for me so I can maintain productivity.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I’ve been fortunate to have never experienced a bad job. Granted, some I liked better than others, but I’ve learned a little from every job I’ve had. One item I did learn was that retail is not my thing. There’s nothing wrong with retail. I enjoy the freedoms that running an internet-based business affords me. While we do have an office, there’s no “requirement” to have a physical space like there is for a retail store front. There’s also less overhead, less inventory, etc. There’s so many less physical components to manage, all while not lessening profit potential.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would define our company’s processes earlier on. For the first few years we relied on the team and myself to guide the process instead of the process guiding our fulfillment. Once you turn your process into an assembly line of sorts by documenting your business procedures you streamline fulfillment. This makes fulfillment quicker, more efficient, and more accurate. It also makes your fulfillment model scalable. Your business is no longer dependent on individuals. Individuals are dependent on the process, and that’s documented for them to easily follow for maximum productivity.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Organize. In everything you do, organize.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Patience and personal communication. If you offer a good product or service, are honest, and communicate transparently, you will grow. In a world where everyone is oversold and exposed to advertisements at every turn, I often find that the best way to sell is not to sell. Simply, communicate. You either offer a product or service that someone wants, or you don’t. They can either afford it or they cannot.
I recently closed a deal with a customer that took three years. I knew we were the right fit for them. I knew they had the budget. I knew they were familiar with our success in their industry. I felt confident that I communicated why we were mutually good for each other and then I waited. They were in the middle of corporate restructuring and various undertakings that I understood required their attention. Had I constantly interrupted them with sales pitches over the years while their priorities were elsewhere I would have annoyed them to the point of not converting. Instead, every so often I’d send them an email checking in on how their restructuring was progressing. I didn’t hit them up about closing any deals. I was genuinely only interested in their welfare. I also sent them a handwritten thank you card that expressed my appreciation for their time over the previous few engagements. Three years later we closed a deal. Personal communication goes a long way.
Some may say that three years is a long time. Yes, it is. But my actual time within those three years was minimal. Across a few emails and a few meetings my total investment was maybe 8 hours. Time spent wasn’t key to closing the deal. Patience was key.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Don’t chase dead end leads. Too often during the start-up phases of a business, entrepreneurs chase any lead. Know the value of your time. If you are hesitant about a lead, calculate their potential return against your potential investment. Are they someone that you’ll likely have to pursue for three months and will get only a return of $300 a month back? And that’s “if” you get them? Or, are they someone that you might have to pursue for six months but could bring you a return of $10,000 a month? You can’t get time back, so spend your time wisely. If, at best, you’ll break even on a lead then don’t pursue the lead.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
As many others have said, you don’t have to come up with something new. You can be successful by bettering something that already exists. What tools or services do you regularly use? Could they be improved upon? Why couldn’t you be the person that improves them?
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A sandbox for my kids. I built a 4’x8’ sandbox for my kids. I made it real nice.
I love technology, but outside of work I like to detach as much as possible. I want my kids to understand the difference between the real world and the technology-immersed world that’s come to be in the last decade or two. It is just as important to me that kids understand imagination and creativity outside of technology as it is to embrace technology.
Technology is all around kids these days. It’s unavoidable that they’ll learn it. Anything that I can do to encourage my kids growth outside of technology I’ll invest in without hesitating.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
At SEO National, we use Insightly for internal operations. Insightly’s CRM streamlines our fulfillment models.
For automated email communication and lead funnels, we use Zoho CRM. This allows us to send leads SEO audit reports and guide them through the sales process in an automated fashion. This process lets us stay productive with fulfillment while still growing our company.
We also use Zapier to semi-automate our social media channels. Zapier allows us to instantaneously and automatically share SEO related news from highly credible resources. This allows us to maintain our credibility as a leader in SEO current events without us having to hover over our social media channels.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Rework. Sometimes simplifying is the best way to grow.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I like disruptors. I don’t necessarily follow anyone, in particular, but I enjoy miscellaneous blogs and stories here and there that are about the good guys winning. Anyone that can be successful while maintaining morals and common courtesies to civilization are influential to me.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.