By Derrick McKee
The clock was inching ever so slowly toward quitting time on a beautiful Friday in July as my very-British co-worker and I heard the first band at the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Festival hit their opening chords just 200 feet down 14th Street. The small crowd cheered as I looked at the clock on my computer. 4:23 p.m. Drats.
At my moment of despair, the door to our boss’s office opened, and out he walked with cash in hand.
“You guys did a great job this week. Get out of here and go grab a couple beers at the festival on me. I’ve got some work to finish up, but I’ll try and join you later.”
“Ahoy, mate, ye cheeky bastard!” squealed British Paul. He clearly approved. Being 24 and thirsty, I also offered no objections.
Paul and I had beer No.1 together and B.S.’ed up this and that. During beer No. 2 we started looking up the street at our boss’s parked car. The clock hit 5 p.m., then 5:30 p.m., and then 6 p.m. came and went. All the while, that car stayed parked right in front of our office building. The fact was, our boss was in the process of building up a brand new business. He had a young family at home to fend for and two employees who relied on him so that they could fend for theirs. Simply put, he had work to do, and even the tastiest beer in the world wouldn’t change that fact.
Since that summer day, I’ve often heard it said that successful businesses are built on the backs of discipline, sacrifice, and determination, so it came as no surprise, six years later, when I heard that my former boss, Justin Seibert, was named one of the Top 25 Most Influential PPC Experts three years running by Hanapin Marketing, and his Wheeling business, Direct Online Marketing, was honored with Google Managed Agency Program status, certifying it as one of Google’s top 200 Partner agencies worldwide.
Justin moved back to Wheeling from Los Angeles and founded Direct Online Marketing when he got word that he and his wife, Kristin, were expecting their second child.
“We decided we didn’t want to raise our family in L.A.,” confessed Justin. “My boss at the time pulled me aside and told me we had two choices: to move where Kristin’s parents were or to move where mine were.”
Wheeling, as it does time and time again for young parents considering a move, won out. But the decision wasn’t made simply out of a longing for the comforts of home; rather, it was supplemented by the business opportunity that Wheeling provided.
“I saw online marketing work in California, and it only made sense that it would continue to work elsewhere, so I opened up Direct Online Marketing and went for it in West Virginia.”
Direct Online Marketing, or DOM, focuses on two rapidly growing areas of digital marketing: pay-per-click (PPC) ads, which show up as customized advertisements based on data sources such as the keywords you type into search engines, as well as the pages you visit; and search engine optimization (SEO), which focuses on helping companies do the things they need to do in order to be found by their eCommerce target market.
The company quickly grew from a skeleton crew working in a dusty, rented office with a radiator, to a 12-professional firm full of creative minds who work out problems and strategies for their clients over a game of pool or a walk around the block their new company-owned building sits on.
The employees of DOM help a variety of domestic companies from West Virginia to California sell their products or services all over the world. Likewise, clients from Australia, Hong Kong, Russia, and South Africa have turned to DOM to help them break into the U.S. market.
International eCommerce taking place on a daily basis and originating from a high-tech marketing firm in South Wheeling? Just one more feather I bet you didn’t know Wheeling had in its cap!
If all of this sounds Greek to you, it doesn’t have to. As a Google Partner, Direct Online Marketing regularly hosts informative, free seminars where business owners or professionals learn the basics of online marketing, as well as the latest trends, tools, and innovations that are helping businesses all over the world sell everywhere else.
Their next event, a digital breakfast featuring Michael Hose of Google, takes place in Morgantown on Feb. 19 and will be the first time Google has ever sent one of its top dogs to West Virginia. Both Google and Direct Online Marketing will provide insight into how you can use technology to improve your business. They’ll discuss measurable tactics you can implement the day of the event. They’ll school you on PPC, SEO, and social media so that you walk away knowing enough to shut up your 15-year-old nephew; and, possibly best of all, DOM’s marketers will be standing by with a computer to show you how your customers see you on the web, as well as your competitors. That could be a sobering thought, but as Justin said, “Every business has room for improvement. People will walk away that day with a better understanding of how they can improve from a digital marketing perspective.”
While you don’t have to be from West Virginia to attend the event, it is certainly focused on the Mountain State, and the reason is simple: With more and more commerce taking place online, one of Direct Online Marketing’s goals is to help educate and prepare West Virginia businesses for the evolution of trade so that they can compete globally, and grow.
“The most important things in my life are family, business, and where I live: Wheeling specifically and West Virginia more broadly,” said Seibert. “[Wheeling’s] census stats make me tear up. We’ve lost population every single decade. So to be able to employ people in the area and serve as a piece of an economic catalyst to reverse the negative population trends? Well, nothing outside of family gives me greater pride. If I can help other West Virginia businesses adapt and arm themselves so that they can grow by one, two, 10 people, then I’m doing my job, regardless of whether or not that business becomes a client.”
If you are interested in registering for Direct Online Marketing’s event, or if you just want to learn more via their free online resources, you can do so at http://www.directom.com/morgantown.