How to Scale Your Business for Growth While Cutting Down Admin by 50%
Today we’d like to introduce you to Gareth Melia.
It’s an honor to speak with you today. Why don’t you give us some details about you and your story. How did you get to where you are today?
Well, I came here to New Zealand about eight years ago from Ireland, where I was already running web agencies. But I was always more interested in the whole holistic picture of businesses and how I could help them achieve results. The website thing was just the tip of the iceberg.
So when I came to New Zealand on holiday, and after deciding to stay for this amazing girl I met, I switched over to marketing, starting my own agency. And it worked, it’s been running for some years now, collecting clients and helping them find new business.
Again though, after a few years, I had the feeling that it was all too chaotic and random. Some clients would see amazing results and others would die in the water, and we weren’t sure why. We were trying to follow up on leads for our clients but we didn’t have a structure and we were too reliant on our clients reporting back to us.
Which is why I started looking around at options and spending my nights researching. And I became convinced that automation was the way to go, smart automation that could react in real-time and ensure that any business my clients had was being followed up.
So I found Ailem CRM, but I also spent time on the processes which would bring in customers for my clients. Because it’s about finding a formula that actually results in people wanting to take action, not just in selling software solutions.
I’m sure your success has not come easily. What challenges have you had to overcome along the way?
Well, as I touched on above, the main problems we’ve had are to do with understanding our client’s markets and making a reliable pattern out of customer trends. Which is more than a numbers game; it takes creativity and a bit of psychology and, dare I say it, a fair bit of luck.
But in marketing your clients are paying for results, which is a hard thing to guarantee. We know, for example, that paid ads will generally do better, but sometimes we’ll find an ad we thought would go down well being ignored completely, while at other times something we had less hope in has blown up incredibly.
Partly it’s to do with the climate and the amount of appetite there is for a certain product or service, as well as your competitors, but the basic truisms about people remain the same. They want to feel elevated by their purchases, and that they’re going to solve their problems and frustrations. They want to feel excited by the offer because we really judge what we buy on an emotional basis first before we rationalize it.
So we needed to work out how we could tap into this psychology first, and then how we’d get this messaging to people. And it’s taken a long time, with a lot of research and trials. But now I think we have a much better understanding of what works and what doesn’t – at least a lot of the time.
Let’s talk about the work you do. What do you specialize in and why should someone work with you over the competition?
It’s difficult to summarize, really, and we tend to think of it in terms of aspirations rather than end products. Essentially we’re a marketing agency, but what we do is help our clients achieve better outcomes through digital mediums. That may happen in a variety of ways using a multitude of techniques and channels. I suppose we often rely on email and social media campaigns as well as SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Google ads, and website creation, but we’ve been known to do other things too. It’s the end goal that matters, really.
With Ailem though we’re trying to systemize it more to make the process reliable and something that engages with our clients in a way that’s manageable for them, allowing them to view results and take charge of their business from a marketing angle.
I think working with us ensures a level of personal responsibility. We’re personally overlooking all campaigns and we spend a lot of time fine-tuning and experimenting, in our time and with ourselves, on better strategies and approaches.
We’re also one of the few companies I know that is willing to relinquish as much control as we do. A lot of agencies won’t let you anywhere near the backend of a website, for example, or will demand a certain protocol for contacting customers. But we’re not about our own goals, we like our clients to tell us what success means to them, and we tailor our marketing to fit that goal.
What’s your best piece of advice for readers who desire to find success in their life?
I think it’s a lot of things. For one, it’s time and dedication, which is repeated a lot but it’s true. I spend a lot of my time, especially my free time, just reading and learning. Honestly, if you could see the number of subscriptions in my inbox for training courses your head would spin! But it’s all good material and even if you don’t agree you absorb it and move on. So open yourself up and be prepared to learn.
You also can’t be afraid to stop learning or trying when something goes right. Because the model that helps you scale to a two or three-figure agency won’t help you scale to a four or five. It might not even work next year or in three months. So how can you keep growing and keep improving?
That’s something I think is crucial. Even though we do try to systemize as much as we can with proven strategies, we’re always testing the soup, so to speak. And it’s changed so much. I’m forever thinking that something is the answer until I find a better answer. Which is the attitude I think you have to take because everything changes. Keep testing and updating your approach whenever you have time.
Another thing is networking. I’m part of BNI and I can’t stress what having a solid group of business-minded people around me has done. If you’re just starting out, build yourself a network, join BNI, go to things and talk to people.
Speaking of success, what does the word mean to you?
Success for me is about being able to achieve the life goals I’ve set. Money really is the grease that helps the wheel but it doesn’t in itself make my life better. What makes life incredibly fantastic is having a solid group of people around me and being able to grow my business in the way I want.
As an example, we started off taking in everyone and anyone we could find, which meant we had some clients causing us tremendous headaches. I really wanted to help them, but often I couldn’t, because either they were unwilling or other areas of the business weren’t great or, honestly, the businesses themselves were a little wayward. And that upset me because I like being able to help people, especially good people, be better at what they do.
It was actually through another client of mine that I discovered a group that was doing something positive in the community and that could benefit from what I could give. So another area of the business I run, under the umbrella of Digital First Aid, is marketing services for first aid trainers and mental health first aid trainers. And now I’m beginning to grow a solid group and really understand the market, which means I can produce much better results for them all around.
That’s really the best success right there, I think. When I’m proud to promote a client and I know that what I’m doing is working.
What’s next for you?
Digital First Aid and Ailem are really in their infancy, although I’ve been thinking about them for years. I’m really into growing these two avenues over the next year, especially with Ailem.
At the moment, we’re working on making it as user-friendly as possible, building out what’s called a digital snapshot, which is like a plug-and-play marketing plan. So anyone can come in and use it with a few changes, adding email addresses and signatures. And then they’ve got working funnels that bring in customers and keep them engaged.
So that’s the plan for now, but we’re all the time getting contacted by someone new that presents a different challenge. I’ve also hired a new sales representative lately, which has helped tremendously.
So it’s an evolving offer I’ve got, but I’ve got plans, definitely.
Finally, how can people connect with you if they want to learn more?
You can contact me via email, firstname.lastname@example.org or through my Melia Marketing website; https://www.meliamarketing.com/contact-us. But depends on what you want me for, I’m a man of many hats!
For Ailem you can find me at; https://ailem.co/contact-us/.
By far the best way to contact me is to book a time to see me on my calendar, which you can do from any of these websites. Happy to zoom call or meet in person, depending on where in the world you are because we’re very internationally focused. We’ve teams in Singapore and Pakistan, we’ve clients in America and England, and Australia, as well as here in New Zealand. Everyone on my team is from somewhere else, so it’s a real multicultural mix. We’d love to hear from you wherever you’re calling from, potential clients!