Yellow Pages was a dominant advertising paradigm for many small businesses for so many years and it worked well for many of them. Put up an ad and the sales would roll in.
Today’s guest for the Mads Singers Management Podcast, John Vuong, lived in that universe for ten years before transitioning to the digital advertising world. John really enjoyed working with small business owners and watching their journeys to build successful businesses. He had a passion for helping them on that journey and hence when the paradigm began to shift away from Yellow Pages, he moved on to the then-unknown world of SEO.
He didn’t let that lack of knowledge scare him. He jumped in with both feet and made more than his fair share of mistakes. But he says that his sales background really helped him in this new SEO world. I noted that SEOs are not normally known for being social and gregarious and that a sales background could clearly be a differentiator in that space.
Something we both really agreed on was the importance of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. This isn’t just important when dealing with clients you are trying to help, but also with employees, you are trying to delegate tasks to. Failure to delegate in the SEO world will mean the death of a small agency, which I see far too often with owners who also happen to be subject matter experts.
John noted that a lot of his clients aren’t interested in understanding the black box that is SEO: that’s what they pay him to do. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t explain some basics to them. “Consumer education in this space is key,” he noted.
We finished the episode by talking about the importance of company culture. I firmly believe you can build a company any way that you want to, as long as you are crystal clear on the culture that you are building that company on top of.
John’s humility and openness about his journey are encouraging for any of those who might be considering entrepreneurship. Enjoy!
- John shares his motivation to get into SEO – 3:06
- Mads talks about the trap of the subject matter expert – 4:32
- John notes the necessary consumer education for SEO clients – 6:45
- John discusses his early mistakes – 8:08
- John talks about how public speaking and podcasting made him more resilient – 10:30
- Mads shares how his inherent ability to read people got supercharged by DISC – 12:00
- Mads notes that most SEOs lack EQ – 15:05
- Mads affirms that you can build a business however you want to, around a culture that matters to you – 22:30
- John talks about how his sales life prepared him for entrepreneurship – 30:30