First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
April Gillmore: We are doing well; thank you for asking, and I hope you are, too.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded ClickFirst Marketing.
April Gillmore: I built my first website in 1998 after teaching myself HTML out of a book. After that (but prior to the dot com crash), I took a job as a web designer at a friend’s company and learned about software, coding, and design under the guidance of more experienced web developers. The company folded following the crash, and I moved on to a sales career but soon found myself back in a marketing role. From there, I held a few marketing manager positions before deciding in 2015 to venture out on my own. I took my employer at the time as my first client and created ClickFirst Marketing.
How does ClickFirst Marketing innovate?
April Gillmore: For many businesses, the concept of innovation probably means the introduction of a new product or service, but for us, it’s really more of an effort to stand out from our competition. So, we focus heavily on not being a “typical” digital marketing agency. Many clients come to us upset about a contract they signed with another agency or feeling completely confused about what they’ve spent on marketing as well as what that spend produced. It can be a bit of a challenge to work with clients that feel they can’t trust “internet marketers,” but we believe these situations actually give us the opportunity to differentiate ClickFirst. Some examples include:
- We adapt the way we communicate with each client based on that particular client’s level of marketing knowledge instead of speaking to the client as if he or she is a fellow marketer. Some clients don’t know or care what terms like CPC or CPA mean, and therefore we don’t use this type of terminology when communicating with them about their accounts.
- We offer no-contract pricing options for clients that have been burnt by contracts with other agencies.
- We provide simple reports that show campaign spend and performance so that clients can see their ROI.
It’s an ongoing process to evaluate how we can offer better service to our customers, which is truly how we innovate.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
April Gillmore: Yes, clients have had to make major changes to the way they do business, and that’s had some effect on us. For instance, we have a large restaurant client that needed to completely change the messaging in their paid ads to let their customers know that while dining in wasn’t an option, their customers could still get takeout or delivery. In most cases, we’ve gotten more work, but we’ve been sensitive to the fact that many clients are struggling, so we’ve kept our rates affordable.
We’re also finding that clients are more interested in trying new digital marketing services like SEO, Facebook Ads management, etc. Clients want to drive more traffic to their websites and do more business online since doing business in-person has been so restricted.
As for coping, we’re just making sure we are available to clients as much as possible.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
April Gillmore: No difficult choices as of yet, thankfully.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and ClickFirst Marketing in the future?
April Gillmore: Meditation and physical exercise are how I deal with stress and anxiety. Getting plenty of sleep and eating well helps, too. As for the future, that’s something I’m thinking a lot about right now, but I’m not quite ready to share my thoughts. Try asking me again next year.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
April Gillmore: Our competitors are other digital marketing agencies, but I really couldn’t name one right now. It’s been at least 3-4 years since I looked at the competitive landscape. I don’t have time to focus on what competitors are doing, and even if I did … I wouldn’t bother to look. I believe in focusing your attention on where you want to go – not on what others are doing.
Your final thoughts?
April Gillmore: These are definitely stressful times for many. However, if you can shift your thinking and focus on the possibilities present as the result of all this change, then it’s actually an exciting time for entrepreneurs. Adapt and grow!
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