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Founded in 2013, Toronto-based agency WSI Paid Search is not your typical marketing agency. They’re not afraid to speak plain truths in your own best interests. They educate you to understand exactly where your marketing and advertising falls short. Then, provide you with education, services and tools to conquer your biggest challenges or opportunities.
In this interview, Jack Porter- Smith, Managing Director of WSI Paid Search, sheds light on some of the most pressing industry concerns and how his agency is leading the charge to help.
Q: What are some of the factors that differentiate WSI Paid Search from its competition?
1. We’re full-house, in-house. We don’t outsource or off-shore any of our work.
2. We have no traps or tricks. Our contracts are plain-English and we let our work speak for itself.
3. We’re an education-first business. We passionately serve our purpose of helping people every day.
The combination of these three things makes us unique and positions us in the highest bracket of Google’s Premier Partners, in the top 1%.
Since I founded this agency I’ve never asked anyone to work with us, and I never will. We are entirely committed to our purpose of changing marketing and advertising for the better, and, like most problems, the solution is education. We’ve always understood that doing good things for others leads to good things for yourself, so we just enjoy the ride.
Q: Who are your typical customers, and how do you onboard them?
Who are your typical customers?
We realized a few years ago that we don’t care ‘what’ our clients are, we care ‘who’ they are. We don’t care about size, shape, industry, budget or location. We care about who they really are; what’s on their mind, what they need and why.
Therefore our customers typically reach us in one of two scenarios:
1. They are currently doing their online advertising in house. They realize pretty soon that they do not have the skill or time to master it or level-up.
2. They are unsatisfied working with another agency due to poor results, lack of creativity and productivity.
We seem to attract clients in these situations because we don’t see ourselves as PPC experts, per se.
We see ourselves as marketers who solve business problems or opportunities with our advertising weapon of choice; PPC. We have the natural interest to solve problems by connecting dots rather than falling into the trap of focusing only on our own dot (PPC).
We’re an education-first PPC agency with no expectations of anyone but ourselves. We grow our business by educating marketing decision-makers on how to get the most out of their online marketing strategies
The onboarding process always begins with some form of education. If a company is impressed by the knowledge we’ve shared, they typically reach out to us. At that point, we offer free, no-obligation consultations and audits of their marketing and advertising. Those who relate to this value then request a proposal. Once our proposal is presented and reviewed, production kicks in and the advertising is live within 10 days.
Q: Could you elaborate on the educational aspect of your offering?
We’re about to publish our second book, Advertising Greatness. We host regular webinars. We’re about to launch our new website with a plethora of useful information and eBooks. Pre-pandemic we hosted 2-3 major educational events at Google offices per quarter, which are half-day sessions of content from us and Google for business owners and marketers. We provide hundreds of free consults and audits a year. We’re working on a whole host of additional ways to provide education and value to marketers throughout 2020.
Ultimately, we provide marketers with education, stimulation, and inspiration to fix their problems and seize opportunities to reach advertising greatness. I truly believe we’re the only agency on the planet who truly and tirelessly educate their audiences before considering our own needs or desires. We didn’t set out to become an education-first business, it just happened because that’s who we are.
Q: Share a success story.
This success story is a medium-sized well-known lifestyle brand in California with a huge e-commerce business and multiple retail stores. Our relationship began when they attended our event at Google Los Angeles. Doing PPC in-house, their problem was not about profitability but about time and scale. When they attended our event, they learned a lot of strategies and tactics that they didn’t even know existed. They wanted to scale their PPC efforts further, but did not know how to execute it, nor did they have the time.
After auditing their existing marketing and advertising activities we took over. We drastically increased their traffic, sales and revenue. We also reduced their cost per acquisition from $40 to $18, which we often joke about because at the outset they told us they didn’t care if the CPA increased as long as the volume of new customers increased.
Q: In your interaction with clients, what sense do you get of the challenges they face now?
What I hear the most is part or all of: “We don’t know if we’re doing the right things or if we’re ahead of our competition, or if we’re spending the right budget. We don’t even know what our ROI is.”
Not knowing ROI is definitely the biggest problem. Whether they’re spending $5k or $500k a month on advertising, they don’t know exactly what value this is generating in return. Thus, PPC becomes a dark hole. It’s a common problem because many people focus on tracking PPC data but not on connecting it to business outcomes.
Beyond that, there are millions of PPC agencies or professionals worldwide and many of them are self-serving, deceptive, money-grabbing rogues who waste the time and money of millions of businesses. The reality is that we do not operate in a regulated industry. We are not governed by anyone or anything, which allows them free-roaming. They are a plague on the economy and a stain on the reputation of the marketing and advertising industry, which is why we’re so determined to help businesses spot such pitfalls through our education.
Q: What does the future hold for your organization?
By 2028 we’ll be a $100-million company. We don’t want to grow into a juggernaut agency but we wish to continue on our growth path to reach more people with our message. Giving back with education and shaping the future of marketing and advertising gives us deeper meaning in our work. After our seven years thus far, perhaps we’re on a soapbox with a megaphone, and by 2028 we’d like every business owner and marketer to have heard our message.
For the readers, don’t give up. Keep pushing, no matter how stressful, difficult or impossible your task may seem. There are few problems that cannot be solved with the right amount of time, education and effort.