HireGun.co Does The Vetting For Companies In Need Of Digital Marketing & SEO Help
Five questions with company's founder and search marketing pro John Doherty.
After working with a number of clients who had been burned by illicit consultants, John Doherty was inspired to create an agency that would help companies find reputable search marketing and SEO professionals.
“One day, I got extremely frustrated with both Google and bad SEOs,” says Doherty, “Google because there was no rhyme or reason to what worked or didn’t for the client, and the bad SEOs because they did terrible work and still got paid.”
As a freelance consultant himself, Doherty says he decided then and there that he wanted to help good marketers build their businesses.
“I began to build out a set of consultants, but then realized this was going to take a lot of time and effort.”
Doherty said he decided to see if consultants and agencies would be willing to pay for qualified leads. In 2013, he founded HireGun, and now partners with approximately 50 consultants and agencies, placing them with companies in need of SEO and search marketing work.
After parting ways with his last full-time position, Doherty is now building HireGun, and has recently returned to doing some consulting projects alongside running his referral agency. When asked what has been the most rewarding part of starting HireGun, Doherty speaks to both sides of the business: the companies that come to him for help, and the referral partners he works with.
“The success of both — businesses needing marketing help, and the partners providing this help — is immensely gratifying to me.” Today, Doherty shares how his business works and offered tips for companies looking to find outside help — from the questions they should be asking to the red flags that should cause them pause.
Five Questions with HireGun.co Founder John Doherty
Amy Gesenhues: Tell me how HireGun.co works. How does it benefit the companies that come to you for help and the consultants you partner with?
John Doherty: HireGun is a marketplace that is trying to solve a two-sided problem — businesses don’t have a good place to go to find a wide range of companies that can provide the services that they need within their budget range, and consultants and agencies often don’t have time to market themselves because they are so busy doing client work.
HireGun benefits businesses because they now not only can see a lot of service providers (I call them “partners” on HireGun), but now they can see exactly how much they cost per hour and what their project or monthly minimum is, if the partner has one.
Previously, a business would go to someone they’ve seen speak at a conference and inquire about working with that person or agency, only to find out that their budget was nowhere near the provider’s minimum. Then they might be passed along to a few smaller agencies or consultants, but often not, and the business was disempowered and frustrated.
Now, they have more information publicly available to them so that they can make their own decisions about who might be good for them to contact.
Currently there are two ways to submit an inquiry through HireGun — a general inquiry that comes to me or contacting the partner directly through their profile page. When a business submits an inquiry directly to me, I follow up as soon as possible, often in under two hours. If the inquiry goes to a partner, I have encouraged them to reply as soon as possible.
Amy Gesenhues: What is the vetting process for the digital marketing consultants and agencies listed on your site?
John Doherty: Right now, all of the digital marketers on HireGun are my peers and colleagues within the marketing industry. I have seen and vouch for their work and would refer work to them even if HireGun wasn’t a business.
The challenge will come when I eventually open up HireGun for all consultants and agencies to apply, but I have a number of ideas to keep it a peer-review-driven list. Of course, the ultimate goal is to keep quality of HireGun partners as high as possible, and that goal will never change.
Amy Gesenhues: Of the six areas of service HireGun.co covers — SEO, content marketing, paid acquisition, link building, local SEO and social media — which do you get the most requests to do?
John Doherty: Because my personal audience is quite SEO-focused, HireGun does get a lot of technical SEO inquiries.
In order of popularity across the six verticals, the order would be:
- Content marketing
- Link building
- Paid acquisition
- Local SEO
- Social media
Most are looking for a combination of SEO and content marketing, which is very heartening for me to see as I firmly believe that companies need to think about both at the same time.
Amy Gesenhues: What is HireGun’s involvement in a project after a company has been referred to a consultant or agency?
John Doherty: To this point, the involvement has been minimal. I often follow up with the agency to see how the project is going, and I have just implemented something that will help me get feedback from the businesses receiving service, as well.
It’s very important to me that both sides of the marketplace have a great experience even after they’ve been matched and found someone!
Amy Gesenhues: What is your advice for companies seeking SEO and SEM help? What steps should they take to vet a consultant or agency before working with them?
John Doherty: I absolutely think companies need to spend more time asking their potential consultant or agency questions. As I mentioned above, I became very frustrated a few years ago when I was seeing a lot of businesses coming both to me and Distilled because their previous “SEO consultant” had messed up their site.
Some of the questions I will tell businesses to ask their potential consultant or agency are:
- Can you tell me about some projects you have done that are similar to mine, and what the results were?
- I’d love to learn a bit more about your process of working with clients. How often do you do phone calls, what kind of communication can we expect from you, and how do you like to deliver documents and strategies?
- How often do you report on progress and metrics, and what metrics do you think we should be reporting on?
Red flags are if they do not have a robust reporting process, or just report on links with no explanation of why they are good or helpful. Also, any consulting work done in a silo without telling you what they are doing or how it is progressing are red flags, as then you do not even know what work they are doing or how it is benefiting you.
Honestly, I’d also be careful with “productized” SEO or marketing packages where you paid $XXX per month for something generic like “link building” or an “audit.” Good marketing is involved and often does not come cheap, and by using a service that is automated or low human contact, you likely will not get the right recommendations for your specific business.
Postscript: In January 2016, HireGun was rebranded to Credo, and can be found at www.GetCredo.com.
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