Eric Hess

Eric Hess | SocialSurge Marketing | Talks About The New Normal For Small Businesses – COVID-19

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

COVID-19 hit our business fast, much like most small businesses out there. There was so much uncertainty in the world, and that really held true for small businesses too. No one really knew if they were going to be able to keep their doors open, how long they would have to be closed for, and if they were able to offer curbside services.
This impacted us right away because we primarily work with small businesses at the local level, here in Milwaukee, WI. We ended up really scaling back services for a number of our clients and went into almost a defense strategy initially while things were getting figured out at a government level. The biggest impact to us and our clients was right away when the US went on lockdown in March-April.
Fast forward a couple of months and we started to scale back all of our clients to a normal level and gain a good amount of new clients that we’ve been talking to over the last few years. The reason for services going back to normal and the additional clients was that these old school business owners started to see and realize how important being online was, in a time where a majority of business was being forced online. It was a moment where you adapt or become obsolete, and we not only took on new clients but donated some of our efforts to local businesses by updating their websites to either communicate how they were handling COVID or we helped them make their website eCommerce.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

I’ve taken a much different route than most people I’ve met who own marketing agencies. I actually graduated from UW-Whitewater with a finance degree and worked in the finance industry for about 3 years before making the full-time switch to SocialSurge Marketing. During my time in private wealth management, I learned how much I enjoy analytics, which is definitely a plus in the marketing industry, but more importantly, I learned how much I enjoy people.
My primary role here at SocialSurge is talking to new prospects, building new client relationships, and making sure existing clients are happy. It’s pretty much been a dream come true so far. I’ve been super fortunate to have partnered with my business partner, Kevin Nelsen, who is the head of marketing and sets up our clients for success by developing and implementing their marketing strategies.

How does your company innovate?

“Marketing is constantly evolving…” and if you’re not following current trends, you’re going to be left in the dust. We’re constantly innovating whenever a new feature is introduced, a new platform is trending, or whenever an algorithm is updated. It’s one of the big benefits of companies working with a digital marketing agency – that you don’t have to constantly stay on top of these trends since we do it for you.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Absolutely. As a business owner, I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with making difficult decisions for my and our clients’ businesses. Part of making those difficult decisions is making some mistakes and learning along the way. There’s a saying, by I believe John Maxwell, “Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.” I try to turn every “bad decision” or mistake that I make into a learning experience and try to never make the same mistake twice.
Most of our major stepping stones in our business have been learned by making a mistake, dissecting it, and figuring out how not to repeat the same mistake.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

There hasn’t been any new software or tools we’ve needed to implement because of COVID-19. Most of the work we do is done virtually, and the only tool we’re using now more than ever is Google Meet for video calling. Outside of that, not much has changed.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

There are a lot of marketing agencies around. We view things a little differently than others, and we don’t see marketing agencies as competition. There is plenty of work to go around, and we’re not always going to be the best fit for every prospect that comes our way. When a prospect comes to us that we can’t help, we try and introduce them to a trusted marketing agency in the area. Every marketing agency has a service that they’re best at, an industry that they thrive in, and a business-size they prefer working with.
We’re looking to keep the clients that we get for a long time, and the best way we see doing that is to make sure they’re with the perfect fit!

Your Final Thoughts

My final note would be to make sure that if you’re a small business owner out there that you’re taking your online presence seriously and update information regularly to set up yourself for success! Thank you for reaching out to publish this interview!
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