First of all I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Andrew Delville. I am the owner and founder of SEMG. I have spent over a decade in the digital marketing and website development world and oh what a journey it has been. I want to share this with you to hopefully help a young digital marketer, and maybe a company looking for some SEO or Google Ads advice.
So I guess my story all started about 11 years ago in Toronto. I was in between jobs at the ripe age of 24. I was literally applying to any half decent sales job I could find. This was the time of Craigslist and that is how I found my first digital opportunity. It was a telephone sales job booking appointments for companies in need of a website. This was also in the era of not every company having a website.
The company was located on the other side of the city and I really needed this job so I traveled 3-4 hours daily on public transit just to get there. I have always had a good work ethic so it didn’t bother me but I became dedicated very quickly as my efforts to get to work took a decent portion of my day so I found I worked even harder during my work day to make my time count. I was also very good at sales and started making a decent income quickly however I had NO EXPERIENCE or KNOWLEDGE of website design and development and Google Ads was not even a product yet.
I was exposed to WordPress within the first month of being at this firm. Within a few more weeks I was building and adding content and images to websites. The company saw that I had other talents other than just working a phone, and they continued to teach me about website development, system development and Search Engine Optimization. In a odd way this was like me going to grade school for digital marketing. I was fortunate to get this opportunity. The owner took his time to grow me not just as a team member but also as a leader. Within a few short months I became the sales manager which later led to me managing the entire company as my skill set grew. My understanding of not just digital marketing but business was also being nurtured and flourished.
After about 2 years of holding this position I received an email from a young startup company. They specialized in Google AdWords and wanted to recruit me as the director of sales for their firm. The salary was fair but they had stock options and I got excited at the prospect of owning a little piece of what I work for. This was also when Google Ads had really started to become mainstream so it was exciting. I had very little exposure or knowledge of Google Ads and even less experience on how to offer the service. I was unproven in this arena but I was willing to learn. I took the position and started working for this company as I saw a brighter future for me, and loved the idea of a new challenge.
When I started with Ballas Media there were 4 team members two of which were the founding partners and the company had 0 clients. Within a 8 months the owner and I had built a client list of over 20 clients, hired 2 more employees and were looking at bigger office space. I spent a ton of time dealing with Google Ads directly and we had hired an analyst to manage the ads. I worked very closely with him to better understand the wins, loses and benefits of Google Ads. We had even developed our own scripts and tracking software to create a better value proposition for our clients. At this time we were one of maybe 10 firms in Toronto offering the service and were directly competing with the big guns like Reach Local and Search Kings.
I took a lot of pride in this organization as I had been a part of it from its inception. We grew the business to a multimillion dollar corporation in less than 2 years and I was managing 10-12 people. When I took my first vacation from this organization I returned to a demotion and a merger happening. I resigned within 2 weeks of returning as my entire reason for staying in this company was being stripped from me and my team was quickly falling apart as result of poor ownership and overall lack of trust or belief given how fast and why things changed so rapidly. The companies staff aka THE COMPANY had lost all morale within a few short weeks. I share this part of the story as it is part of my journey and ultimately led me to starting my own agency. It is not positive or nice but it is part of business and it taught me a lesson…… Success seems to be connected with action.
I had learned everything I could about call tracking, scripts, heat mapping, landing pages and a list of other tools that are still applicable today. The thing is the training and learning around these tools has not slowed down or stopped. They are just more diverse. I had a few years of SEO and website development experience at the time which really complimented my knowledge on AdWords. This coupled with my management and business acumen I was ready. I knew it in my guts. It took me about 4 years of extremely faced paced learning but I had a passion for the digital world so it didn’t matter. That passion needs to be there in most things in life or they are not worth doing. Especially when it comes to a career. So I started drawing up a business plan to launch my own digital marketing agency.
All of these experiences, training, time and lessons led to the inception of my first agency Academic Ads. This is and probably always will be my baby. This corporation lasted 6 years so I won’t blab too much about it as I could write a blog series on life and business lessons during around that time. I loved that business, the people and the clients. I still work with a handful of the same clients I had earned throughout the course of this 6 years. A few of my old team members are still working with me today also. I believe it is a testament to solid SEO results coupled with great relationships. In the SEO and Google Ads world there can be a ton of smoke and mirrors. Our goal was and still is to be honest and to cut through the jargon and focus on providing results and client education on the investment they were making every month.
We all had a ton of fun in this company. We were like brothers and sisters. Three of the core team members had 0 experience in digital marketing and grew with the company for more than 3 of those 6 years. I tried to take these people under my wing and teach them everything I knew. I wanted to try and create clones of myself. Two of these team members now manage and run their own agencies. I would like to believe I played a hand in that. We are all still close to date which also tells me we did something right. If you are thinking about stepping in to the world of digital marketing and are willing to learn, this can also be your story. It does take a lot of work, time and patience but the investment you make will be worth it.
This leads me to SEMG or Search Engine Media Group. The time had come to say goodbye to Academic Ads. My vision for the company was not in line with my partners. I had also met a wonderful woman who lived outside of the GTA and it required me to ultimately leave the city to peruse having a family. I don’t think I made a sacrifice or a mistake in this respect as I believe family is the most important thing any man or woman can have. I try to carry this forward in all of my business dealings as well.
So I landed in St.Catharines about 2 years ago. Like I said earlier I had a few clients who stayed with me so this allowed me to have a bit of capital to start the company and pay my bills. I did not have this luxury when I started Academic Ads. We literally built a business out of nothing to do over 3 million dollars in revenues over the 6 year term the company was open. 6 plus year long business relationships do not come easy and is a direct result of the great results I had provided and the trust that was established during that time.
Living and doing business in Niagara has been interesting. There is still a need for SEO and Google Ads but it is not hyper competitive like many major metropolises I was familiar with such as Toronto, Hamilton, Burlington, Mississauga, Brampton or Oakville. Niagara has a different speed to it however being found on Google organically or via ads is still how people search here. The volume was just far less as a reflection of smaller population numbers. However these services are still extremely valuable to high ROI products like kitchen and bathroom companies, roofers, window and door companies and jewelers to name a few. I work with a local vet whom I have been able to rank #1 across Niagara. As a result his practice has grown 200% over the course of 2 years. Given his value of an average client the benefits still far outweigh the costs. However this is not ideal for local mom and pop shops in the area as the returns are probably not going to outweigh the costs if your selling T-shirts or are a small restaurant for example.
We now run a smaller crew of 4 key team members and have a very strong client list. I am happier here as it is not as congested or busy, and am just as committed to servicing Niagara and surrounding communities with the best SEO and Google experience any company can hope to offer. We understand this is a smaller marketplace but we also understand how to best utilize a marketing budget to ensure our clients get what they need and pay for. Not every company can honestly say that.
My team and I are all seasoned vets currently and bring over a combined 25 years experience in our industry to the table. We know we offer our clients the best SEO and digital marketing advice and experience. Our Google reviews reflect that.
When you pay for marketing you are paying for results. This is why you want to hire the best. Speaking of which we won 3 Best for Marketing Agencies in 2019 as a direct result of our workmanship and digital marketing expertise. Our goal is to always be your trusted consultants and a member of your company. If we are just offering another service, and provide mediocrity then we have failed you and ourselves.
I will wrap things up here as I feel we have covered most of my journey in the space of Search Engine Optimization and Google Ads. I hope this has given you some insight on our firm, myself, and our vision. If you have any questions or are looking for some advice on your digital marketing or website please do not hesitate to reach out. We are always here to help not to sell. If it is a good fit we hope to work with you. You can reach us at Info@semg.ca or give us a call at 289-273-8573
Thank You and have a great day!
Sincerely Andrew Delville