Challenge: The Source: Personnel Information Service, a company that does background checks on potential employees for corporations, needed to find a way to market its business, which had dwindled after the Sept. 11 attacks and the economic recession. The company had gone from 25 employees down to four. "Our business died in the economic downturn," said Steven Lord, who co-founded the Source with his brother, Jason.
Cold calling wasn’t working. "It was horrible, expensive and unproductive," Lord said.
"Because we’re a company that does business nationwide, it was difficult to put a marketing campaign in place cost-effectively."
Solution: By 2003, the Source got wise to search engine marketing and began experimenting with keyword bidding and site optimization, but it found the process too time-consuming. After looking at and testing search with SEM companies, it turned to BeyondROI, a search engine marketer, to manage its campaigns.
BeyondROI manages its keywords and site optimization, as well as click-throughs. That full-service offering has helped Lord concentrate on his business. "I don’t think about it anymore," Lord said.
"I just tell them what I want to spend," he added. "I don’t have time for ‘What do you want to spend for this word?’ and ‘What do you want to spend for that word?’ They took all that off my plate," he said.
The Source invests between $2,000 and $10,000 per month in search marketing, with most months from $3,000 to $3,500.
"I frequently adjust it depending on the time of year," Lord said. His business, he said, is busiest in January and February, and slows down again in March. In addition, when campaigns perform "too well" and new business stretches the company’s resources too thin, he said, he scales back spending. "We need to slow it down so we can handle the work coming in," Lord said.
Results: The Source went from about 200 small-business clients two years ago to about 400 or 500 active clients now. A year ago, that number hovered around 300 and 350.
"We had a big jump when we did this," Lord said. In addition, the company has hired several more people. It currently employs 10 full-time employees, who spend their time doing research, without worrying about selling. "With these 10 people, we’re getting as much work done as we did five years ago with 25 employees," Lord said. "They’re doing the work that people pay us to do," he said. "Research, data entry—and earning me money."
"I could do all this myself for a lot less money," he said "but this takes that burden off, and I don’t have to think about it." The investment in BeyondROI, he said, is less than he would spend on a full-time employee with benefits, and he gets a better return on his money.
The Source has again reached a point where it needed to scale back marketing in order to focus on servicing new business. "I made a decision to slow down a little bit in order to service all of our new clients," he said.