At Hinge we have been studying Visible Experts℠, people who have attained high visibility and expertise in their industry, creating a personal brand that is recognizable industry-wide. We study them because we want to understand how they attained that status and what we can learn from them. This profile focuses on Brad Geddes, a Visible Expert for SEO and PPC marketing.
To say that Brad Geddes is a Visible Expert is an understatement. A specialist in SEO, PPC, social, display, and affiliate marketing campaigns, Brad runs two companies of his own founding, travels to up to ten countries per year, has a book on Google Adwords that has gone through three editions, blogs weekly, records podcasts twice monthly, and still has time to squeeze in once-a-month training webinars. In 2015, he has 17 speaking engagements scheduled, and he can only accept bookings with a six-month advance notice. How did this peripatetic marketing expert rise to the top of his game? Interestingly, the first step on his path to marketing success had nothing to do with marketing per se.
Two Lessons: Training and Scale
Brad began his professional life as a trainer in the healthcare industry, specializing in crisis intervention and CPR. The experience he garnered both in training and in the ability to structure and deliver organized content would serve him in good stead down the road. In 1998, he discovered the world of paid search, a web-based marketing technique designed to heighten clients’ placement on search engines through click-throughs and ad views.
From there, his ascent was steady: in 2001, he created his own agency, which he sold in 2004 in order to join a growing firm named Local Launch. “I learned a lot about building scale during that time,” Brad says. “With partners like Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo, working on a large scale became second nature to me.” By the time he and his partners sold Local Launch two years later, the company was assisting some 660,000 companies.
From there, Brad went to work for Google, harnessing his prior training experience to help the company’s advertiser base get up to speed on how to use AdWords. His biggest challenge? “Figuring out how to introduce complex concepts in a structured, step-by-step method, so people could understand more and more as they went along.” But the entrepreneurial world continued to call, and Brad’s next start-up was BG Theory, a company focused on doing in-house, seminar, and webinar-based trainings to educate businesses about PPC, SEO, and other Internet marketing tools. However, the question of scale, which he had learned in his days working with the large technology firms, remained with him. How best to overcome the limitations of person-to-person training?
Entrepreneurship: Finding Answers
The answer to that question was Certified Knowledge (CK), an online video training company that Brad started a little more than five years ago. For this firm, Brad handles video creation, tool development, and product definitions, as well acting as an advisor on marketing strategy and finances.
The newest feather in his entrepreneurial cap is AdAlysis, a self-funded company Brad co-launched in July of 2014. Just as CK was designed to overcome the limitations of person-to-person marketing, AdAlysis was founded to allow people to do simple, yet sophisticated, ad-testing across all of AdWords. The software model took several years to build.
“We run all the data and give clients a workflow telling them: here is where you have actions to take,” Brad explains. “We look at how a pattern is performing across tens of thousands of ads, and we discover the statistical significance.” AdAlysis counts some brand-name businesses among their clientele and the firm expects to have a quarter-billion ads being tested in their system by the time of their one-year anniversary.
Managing the Personal Brand
With all of that, Brad is also assiduous in marketing his own personal brand, which he does by leveraging a variety of different channels:
- Speaking engagements: Brad speaks in 7-10 countries per year, and his speaking work is highly targeted. “For high-priced products, speaking is more valuable than blogging or social media,” he notes. “You only need to convert a few people to make the gig worthwhile. For AdAlysis, we are trying to reach enterprise/Fortune 500 companies, so speaking is better.”
- Webinars: Brad teaches a once-monthly webinar at the training institution Market Motive, which boasts a number of Visible Experts on its staff, including fellow Visible Expert, Bryan Eisenberg. He also co-hosts another 4-5 webinars a year, selecting them on how they fit both his schedule and his brand.
- Authorship: Brad is the author of the book Advanced Google Adwords, which has now gone through three editions. “You don’t get rich writing a non-fiction book,” he notes, “but it’s been great for publicity and credibility. As writing a book is so time intensive, you have to ask yourself: what do I want to gain from writing it? For me, writing this book was about: how will this help my two companies grow?”
- Blogging: Brad writes weekly blog posts for AdAlysis. “It’s a new company and we need that publicity. So I want the fresh content to go there.”
- Podcast: Brad’s twice-monthly podcast gets him great ratings, although he admits that it’s hard to get precise metrics for them and, thus, is the hardest content channel to justify. “What it’s great for, though, is meeting new people and making new partnerships. You interview people and you get to network.”
Time management is the key to running all of Brad’s multiple commitments, and he creates specific goals and metrics for all of his work and time commitments. When choosing whether to accept a speaking engagement, for example, he assesses the cost/benefit ratio—a calculation based on the size and type of audience, the cost to him, and the expected return. And with every PowerPoint deck he creates, there are specific objectives in terms of the expected number of tweets, phone calls, and business cards it will generate. “My advice is to ask yourself what you want, what is the goal. Then look at the various content marketing and channels and figure out which channel is most likely to get you there.”
Brad cities his range of experience as an important factor in his success, having worked with Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, agencies, B2C companies, and resellers. He also credits his ability to boil complex subjects down into logical, meaningful steps across a number of different media—a skill that is common among Visible Experts, according to Hinge’s research.
Above all, though, Brad believes it is his ability to set quantifiable goals, and then to track and measure the attainment of those goals, that has set him apart. “A lot of people think that standing on a stage and speaking in front of people is the end goal,” he notes. “That’s visibility, sure, but it means nothing in itself. The question is how to set a goal for what that visibility will get you—how much new business, how many new contacts?” For Brad Geddes, the ability to measure that goal with precision has allowed him to transform his visibility into success—for himself and for the companies he’s founded.