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Interview with Adam Stetzer

It was mid 2010 and I was in situation between changing jobs, accidentally I’ve met Adam Stetzer at DP forums. Without going into details, I just want to say that Adam and his co-founded company HubShout are falling into this 2% of the most trusted SEO companies with strong reputation, high sense of responsibility, and also talking about the transparency towards results which not many companies offer to their customers.

Adam, can you tell us more about you in few sentences?

I am passionate about my work, always have been. But I also strive for a strong work-life balance. I am married and have young children. We try to spend a great deal of time together as a family when I'm away from work and we're big into nature. We retreat to the mountains of upstate New York at least 4 times per year to spend time swimming, hiking and exploring. When I'm in Rochester I exercise weekly, play guitar and enjoy sailing. 

Would you share with our readers at which companies you are involved currently?

HubShout is the 2nd company I've co-founded. We started the first business in 1997 and eventually sold it in 2008 Hubshout Online Marketing & SEO Resellerwhen it had reached 250 employees. In my career, I've worked with two different types of clients. In my first business the clients were exclusively Fortune 200. I had customers such as General Electric, AT&T, Chevron Texaco, Nissan, Ford, Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola. I spent a great deal of time on airplanes selling and servicing those clients. It was a very rewarding experience. At HubShout, we are in the small and medium business market. So I deal with many dentists, doctors, lawyers, roofers, pavers, chiropractors, veterinarians, etc.  You name a small business and I'm sure HubShout has seen it.

How many years of experience, why did you choose IT career? 

I've been in the technical field for over 15 years, starting with my position at Verizon as I was finishing graduate school. My doctorate is in Industrial Psychology, which is a mix of management and psychological sciences. I had never intended on getting into the IT field. However, I started my career in business in 1995 at the precise time the Internet was making it's mainstream debut. As a result, I had a fantastic opportunity to jump in to IT. I've always had a propensity for technical activities. As a young child I like to build and dismantle electronics. Later in life I become interested in computers. Ultimately, I was COO of a software development company and built my own in-house data center with 99.9% up-time SLA's. 

Tell us more about HubShout SEO reseller program

Chad and I started HubShout because we felt that the SEO reseller space was lacking professionalism, transparency and accountability toward results. We saw many anonymous websites offering mysterious services in a space where there is clearly strong demand. With my background in corporate outsourcing and IT, and Chad's expertise in marketing, we saw a fantastic opportunity to bring a world-class SEO reseller program to market. Our strategy was fairly simple: A) Be transparent and real with our clients. This meant putting pictures on the website, hiring a high-quality staff with dedicated Account Managers, and showing all the work we do openly. B) Be accountable for results. Many SEO reseller programs simply supply services for a fee, but they don't make any claims that the SEO will work. We wanted our resellers to truly partner with us. Partnerships require trust, which HubShout tries to earn with accountability.  Our technology is key to accomplishing these goals. We feel that our privately labeled SEO reseller dashboard facilitates communication and gives the reseller the control they need over the process. We also know that our SEO reseller technology gives our partners an advantage over their competitors. 

What do you think is the most important factor for successful business online?

This is simple to me: Marketing. Without a clear strategy for growing traffic, your online business will die - no matter how great it is. I am baffled by how many people think that after they launch their website the traffic will simply materialize. It doesn't. Any new online business person needs to recognize the enormity online competition. The Internet is the Great Equalizer in many ways because it removed so many barriers to entry.  Adam Smith would be quite proud of what the Internet has done for business. But for fledgling online entrepreneur, this reality can be devastating. Size the competition, build a marketing plan, and test the assumptions of the plan before you get a second mortgage or spend too much. Then execute the plan with checkpoints to ensure it's working. Most marketing plans need to be at least 1 or 2 years out. If a large portion of the marketing plan relies on SEO, then it probably needs to be longer (3 or 4 years).   

Do you think that anything major has changed in SEO strategy of trusted SEO providers, after Panda Update?  

Absolutely. First off, Panda was one of the greatest things to happen to HubShout in 2011. Our traffic spiked at the release of Panda and has only continued to grow. More generally, Panda means that you need to do SEO correctly. The days of spinning and scrapping are officially over as of 2011 due to Panda. We were ready for this shift and worked hard to convince our customers that white hat SEO is the right direction a few years before Panda. But I know many firms didn't make that decision. Unfortunately, those who took SEO short-cuts are now on the wrong side of the Panda update. 

Link building vs Content? 

SEOMoz tells us that rankings come from 30% on-site and 70% off-site activities. At HubShout, we live and die by that equation. We think it is critical that you spend time building good content. It must be original, engaging and well presented (both to individuals and the search engines). However, this is only 30% of the story. The rest is link-building. Here, you need to be as creative as possible to find every link possible. You need buzz. You need to get noticed. The biggest challenge many people have with link building is that they still view it as a one-time activity. Link building is now a staple in any marketing game-plan. It must be done continually. 

Do you thing that next generation Internet marketer should be “all rounder”  to be successful in their career and business?

Probably. The reality of marketing any business is that you build the lead flow incrementally over time. There is no magic bullet, though most people still think there is. This means that each month you will tweak your programs and find ways to squeeze a few more leads out of your marketing budget. To the extent that you have more well-rounded marketing skills, you will probably grow your lead flow faster because you have more levers to pull. 

Advice for bloggers and Internet marketers?

Research first, then pick a niche, and stay in it. Don't be impatient, as this leads to bailing out of a perfectly profitable niche before you have put in the work required. As I mentioned above, build a high-quality marketing plan that spans between 1-3 years and stick to it. If you don't think you can give it that much time, you probably shouldn't have your own business. Get feedback from others on the plan, but once it's in motion don't change it too often. You may need to look at it daily to remind yourself of the path you are on, but don't change big strategy points in your marketing plan any more than once or twice a year.  Most people fail in the execution stage because they are impatient or find it too difficult. Recognize that any business (even a successful blog) is a marathon. 

This is personal recommendation for those who run web hosting, web development or want to start SEO business, check Hubshout SEO reseller program, which by my personal opinion can not be compared to any other, cutting edge technology, advanced reporting for both customers and reseller and the least but not last, experts in any field of online marketing.

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