Focus on search engine visibility and content writing. No matter what your area of business is, your customers search for you using Google. If you don’t show up in the search results (paid or organic), you are missing out huge amount of business. Period.

 

Samuli Mäkelä is the co-founder and director at SEOSEON, which provides agile digital marketing services for businesses that are looking to grow their online sales, understand their customer better with data, and improve user experience of their online platform. SEOSEON differs from many other agencies by providing tailor-made solutions with a growth hacking mentality, instead of “one fits for all”-type packages. The SEOSEON team consists of native Nordic professionals, and Scandinavia is their primary market for services.

Before starting at SEOSEON, Samuli was doing SEO and digital marketing gigs as a freelancer and worked for a couple of years at Finland’s biggest e-commerce store.
During these years, he helped various companies to improve their online visibility and increase sales. His portfolio includes businesses, such as hotels and multinational web stores, as well as some bigger fortune 1000 companies, like Autodesk, Nestle and GSK.

Samuli is originally from Finland, but has more or less lived abroad since 2011. Currently, Samuli lives in Spain, where his company’s head quarters is located. In his free time, you can find him at the gym, eating in nice restaurants or reading in the park. To counterbalance hectic work, he also enjoys traveling.

Samuli believes that great things can only be achieved with a great team.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

The original idea for SEOSEON actually came from my long-term friend and current business partner, Antti Sundberg, who saw a growing demand for content writing and SEO services. When we added my interests and skill-set to the mix, we ended up with a couple more services.

Now, almost 5 years later, we are the place to go when businesses look for a truly agile digital marketing partner, with a growth-hacking mindset to conquer Nordic market.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My typical day includes various things from actual client work to HR, financial management and coordinating our own projects. Like for any other entrepreneur or leader, my most important task is to make sure that we are operating efficiently at the company level and that clients are getting what they are ordering. Also, client reports takes fairly large chunks out of my days.

To make everything more productive, we are using project management software called monday.com, which is huge time saver for us. With one glance, I have pretty good idea what everyone is doing and it helps me to prioritize my weekly tasks more easily. Lately we have started to using it for client reporting as well, which will hopefully remove most of the manual work from that, too.

To give you idea about my normal day, here is today’s schedule:

06:30 Breakfast
07:00 Project management, short chat with the key people
07:30 Contacting new leads, emails to our accountant & lawyer about recruiting and company’s financial things
08:00 Call with a client about their advertising results
09:00 Managing our clients Google Ads accounts
12:00 Lunch
13:00 More client work
14:00 More client work
15:00 Writing this interview for Ideamensch.com
17:00 Gym

How do you bring ideas to life?

Whenever anyone in our company has an idea, they’ll list it in our cloud-based project management system, where others can comment it. Usually within couple days (or hours, if we are talking about urgent things) we will see whether this new idea has any potential or not. If most of the people thinks it’s a winner, we create a list of things that must be done to proceed, and a visual board for delegating tasks.

What’s one trend that excites you?

It’s not exactly a trend, but I’m excited to see that more and more smaller niche B2C e-commerce businesses sell successfully to China. At the same time China is reducing their internet censorship rules, which allows giants like Google and Facebook to start operating there. This opens a huge market to anyone and it can soon be accessed by same old digital marketing channels. This can be a great thing, especially for niche web shops.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

One of the biggest problems for many small business owners seems to be that they simply don’t value their own time. This often leads to them trying to do everything by themselves. Not only can this can be extremely exhausting, but this time is often wasted and takes value out of their core business.

Nowadays, I don’t hesitate to hire someone or invest in services, if that saves my time or improves the quality of our services.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Get a degree before starting a company.

I skipped my university degree, because I was too eager to start working. Obviously I have learned many of these skills the hard way on my own later on. I believe, with a higher degree, I would have avoided many unnecessary missteps.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Social skills and networking are more important than your “actual” skills. No matter, whether you are working for a big company or starting your own business, good social skills and your social networks are the way to the “next rung on the ladder”, as well as to help you get new business if you are entrepreneur.

That’s why it’s important to focus on those, if you feel there is any room for improvement.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Read and exercise. You simply can’t do too much of these two. Personally, I try to follow good blogs on daily basis and read at least one marketing or business-related book per month. Especially, when you are working in the field like digital marketing that changes basically all the time, it’s crucial to update your skills constantly and keep ideas fresh.

I have heard that average CEO reads as much as 60 books per year, but that sounds a bit overkill to me.

On the other hand, after work, the gym really helps you to handle work pressure, sleep better and stay healthier as well.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Focus on search engine visibility and content writing. No matter what your area of business is, your customers search for you using Google. If you don’t show up in the search results (paid or organic), you are missing out huge amount of business. Period.

In early days, we invested quite a heavily in blog writing all over the web (both guest blogging and in our own websites), which got us tons of free organic website traffic. This was especially important for us, because we played with very limited marketing budget and paid clicks in our field can be anything close to 4-8 euros (around 5-9 USD) per click.

If you have easy-to-buy product or low competition, paid search ads should be the first thing to try in my opinion.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

At some point we tried to add services to our palette that are out of our core know-how, just because they were kind of trending and easy to sell. This was a terrible waste of time and jeopardized our reputation, too. Now I think it’s important to recognize your weaknesses and strengths, so you can keep focus on what you actually do best and simply say “no” to new business if you can’t ensure a great quality.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

White Label VPN (or any other) software. You will need only a good website and some digital marketing skills and you can start your own tech business with zero inventory and minimal investment or risk.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I invested $200 my own time to write this interview, but I would say it’s completely worth it. While writing these answers to these very good questions I had to go back to the early days of our business, think about our biggest missteps and greatest strengths, which is important to do from time to time. I also believe we are getting a free backlink, which could help our SEO efforts.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

We use countless great cloud software tools to speed up various tasks. Although, I really have to bring up monday.com (once again). With this visual project management tool, we are able to save a huge amount of management hours and coordinate tasks much more effectively.

We list all the projects, tasks and ideas there and create visual boards from those. Depending about its importance, it can be delegated to certain persons or the deadline can be adjusted accordingly, etc.

We basically don’t have any mandatory meetings in-house, since those are unnecessary for us, thanks to good information flow.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Cashvertising by Eric Whitman – This book lists some solid tips for marketing and acquiring new business. Definitely-worth-reading marketing book for every entrepreneur.

What is your favorite quote?

“You can’t make a good deal with a bad person.” -Warren Buffet

Besides the investment world, this rule also applies perfectly when hiring, starting co-operation or buying services from people. The best people simply make the best things happen.

Key Learnings:

• Invest in good tools and systems that will save your time – Your time is important!
• Put a price tag on your own time – and don’t be afraid to buy help or outsource when it brings value to your business
• Keep focus on your “core thing” and always deliver top quality – It’s easier (and cheaper) to maintain old business than to acquire new one
• Entrepreneurs are never too busy to read and exercise – Update your skills constantly, stay curious and healthy
• Invest in good people when hiring – Great people make great things happen

Connect:

Samuli Mäkelä on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samumak/
Personal website: https://samulimakela.com/
Company website: https://seoseon.com/