Farzad Rashidi – Respona

SEO Secrets: “What you want to do is to build relationships with authoritative resources in your space.

Building a website is one thing.  Getting people to come to your website, to make a purchase or find a need and a way to contact you is an entirely different game.

Previously, to build an audience of any measureable amount, you’d need to manually reach out to hundreds of other website owners, in the hopes of getting some links from their pages to your pages.  It was tedious, time consuming and cumbersome, which meant it often didn’t get done.

But what if you could use the power of AI and computers to help you comb the internet, to find and connect with the people that you need to help grow your brand?  What if a large portion of the work was automatic and the actual human factor took much less time?

Listen as Farzad Rashidi, or Respona, a link building platform, explains the value of backlinks and the power of using a tool to do a lot of the grunt work for you.


Visit Farzad at https://respona.com
Authentic Business Adventures Podcast

Podcast Overview:

[00:02:55] Paid advertising is powerful but difficult to sustain. Instead, focus on organic search and SEO.

[00:08:06] Google ranks content based on popularity and credibility.

[00:12:29] Creating and implementing successful solution, worth investment.

[00:17:14] Simple campaign templates and personalized podcast outreach.

[00:22:09] Fully automated research, personalized pitches, human touch.

[00:24:21] Effective local SEO for plumbers and specific geographical targeting.

[00:31:56] Outsource marketing or do it in-house?

[00:34:19] Common mistakes: trusting cheap backlinks and private blog networks. Build relationships with authoritative resources for legitimate links. No shortcuts or cheating in the system. Difficulty is necessary for long-lasting impact.

[00:37:19] SEO for smaller businesses requires differentiation and niche marketing.

[00:41:02] Building software is difficult, requires experience. Selling it is challenging due to contradictions.

[00:45:28] Podcasting increases visibility and credibility for Respona.

[00:49:40] Marketing game: pain, appreciation, sharing, innovation.

[00:50:58] Find previous episodes at drawincustomerscom podcast. Stay awesome, enjoy your business!

Podcast Transcription:

James [00:00:02]:

You have found authentic business adventures, the business program that we’re getting to struggle stories, and trying the successes of business owners across land. Downloadable audio episodes can be found on the podcast link, found a draw in customers.com. We are locally underwritten by the Bank of Sun Prairie. Today, we’re welcoming slash preparing to learn from Farzad Rashini Rashidi. I’m sorry. Lead innovator and cofounder of Respona. And sorry. Farzad item stumbling over my words here. Respond out was poking at your website, and I wonder just out of curiosity before we get going so that people understand what this is, did you use your own platform to reach out to me?

Farzad Rashidi [00:00:44]:


James [00:00:45]:

Yes. Perfect. Alright. — a little bit more. So that’s that’s awesome. That’s incredible. So that just shows you the power of this. Right? because here we are. So once you tell us what is Respondite, and we’ll just run with that.

Farzad Rashidi [00:00:56]:

Sure. So Respona short basically helps businesses get up into search results in Google. That that’s sort of our one liner pitch. Now I can give you a little bit of a backstory sort of how we came up with it, and and I think that would sort of shed some terms of — Please. Yeah. Absolutely. What does exactly? Sure. So, James, I actually joined my Well, I would say it’s our parent company in a way. Vismy. Have you heard of Vismy before? I have to apologize. I have not. That’s okay. Have you heard of tools like Canva or Prezi when he just, like, design tools? Okay. So we’re somewhat of a competitor, but Visby is a bit more are on the on the b b site, so we cater predominantly to SMB And And Enterprise. And I joined as a first marketing hire, and my job basically was just to put it out there. We were like, okay. We built this awesome product. We need someone to actually start marketing it. And we were a complete bootstrap company. Never raised a single dollar in outside funding, which is very rare for software companies. And so what basically I did was to evaluate a few options. So just to kinda give you a a blueprint or, I would say, in snapshot of where Vismi stands now, we have over 20,000,000 active users and over a 100 employees still fully profitable and bootstrap never raised funding. And so but it didn’t get here we didn’t get here overnight. It definitely was a quite a journey. So, basically, what I started figuring out was a a sustainable customer acquisition strategy. So as you know, there’s 3 or 4 different main strategies. A lot of folks start with Number 1, call average. Right? So go door to door, start selling, which is great. If you have a product that makes sense from a pricing standpoint, at the time, our product was $15 a month. So something that doesn’t the unit economics don’t make sense to hire

James [00:02:49]:

US based salespeople to go companies are selling at $15 a month. — 10 years have passed, I suppose?

Farzad Rashidi [00:02:55]:

Exactly. So second one, paid advertising, which is, again, could be a very powerful channel. But as a boot truck company, obviously, it’s a it’s a very cash restrained sort of effort. So we we We still experiment with it. But what what I found that’s sort of difficult with these paid advertising channels, I mean, regardless of that that I would say the social platform, whether it be Google or Facebook, etcetera, is that there is some diminishing return So what that means is basically start doubling your budgets. You’re like, oh, this ad’s working. So doubling it, conversion is still in double. So you sort of hit that plateau, and that’s something that we haven’t been able figure out even 10 years into the journey is that it’s it’s hasn’t really been a sustainable channel for us as far as being able to scale it. And we’re like, okay. So what do we do? Let’s let’s let’s sort of walk through the customer journey and figure out how exactly buyers go about purchasing our product. So say, James, let’s say you wanna create a presentation. You wanna create some sort of an infographic for the for this episode. How would you go about picking a solution or finding one if you don’t already have a solution? But, like, as a buyer, what’s the first step you do when it comes to finding a solution like ours? Man, let’s dig on the web and see what what people have out there. Exactly. And what where do you take? Like, what’s the first website you go into? To server, I imagine? There we go. So we knew that from day 1. We’re like, okay. So our customers are 1 aware of the problem we’re solving. Right? And they’re googling it. So we’re like, great. That instead of us, Standing 100 of 1,000,000 of dollars become the household name, lest our show own up in places where people who are looking for us to offer like ours would organically find us. that way, we don’t have to pay cash or go chase off to every customer every time we wanna acquire 1. So long story short, we’re like, great. let’s just build some pages, you know, do some keyword research and and write some blog posts and traditional SEO advice. Right? Make sure your site load fast and he’s responsive and all that good stuff. So Respona months doing that, and we’re like, great. We put it out there and guess what happened.

James [00:05:07]:

Nothing. Everything in traffic is working. Right? Exactly.

Farzad Rashidi [00:05:12]:

Absolutely nothing. It was completely crickets. So we’re like, okay. Well, we’re obviously doing something wrong because everybody stalling is that this is the way to do it. Right? So we we see a lot of other websites being very successful with it. So we’re like, okay. Let’s For example, let listen. Let’s actually go through this exercise together, James. Can you do me a favor? Just go ahead and Google, like, one of our parent keywords, like presentation song. for. Right? Can you go ahead and just Google that for me? Yeah. Let’s see when you Google yeah. When you Google, it normally tells you how many web just went through in, like, point one second or something like that. Yeah. One bill. — zeros do you see?

James [00:05:55]:

369 plus a couple other random numbers in there. So, yeah, we got a 1,000,000,000. Okay. In point 63 seconds.

Farzad Rashidi [00:06:02]:

Okay. So there’s some billions what? There are 1,000,000,000 web pages that are targeting the keyword presentation software. So we’re in the most one of the most competitive, I would say —

James [00:06:15]:

It’s quite a few.

Farzad Rashidi [00:06:17]:

Yep. Exactly. And what do you see on page 1, like, after the ads? You know? As as a as a user, you normally ignore ads straight to ads. — sponsored ads. Right? You have beautiful.ai,

James [00:06:27]:


Farzad Rashidi [00:06:28]:

— These are ads.

James [00:06:30]:

within the first part of the screen that before scrolling, it’s all ads.

Farzad Rashidi [00:06:35]:

Mhmm. And what do you see in the organic results?

James [00:06:38]:

First one is VisMe, which you had mentioned. Then we have Zapier, TechRadars, and article comforter. There we go. company thing, then Prazi again. Yeah.

Farzad Rashidi [00:06:49]:

So how do we get up in this 1st organic source? So we pay $0 beyond here, and it’s bringing us thousands of users as a business platform is not right now getting over 20,000 new sign ups every single day. Right? So without us spending a day. So how do — That’s cool. — out in the world did we get it up here? Right? Because and it’s not only just for these particular keywords, but, you know, right now, our website gets to over 3,000,000 visitors every month. It’s a hundred thousand people every single day. Alright? And we — That’s impressive. Exactly. So how in the world do we go go about it? And so what we figured out was basically kinda going back in the the late nineties, and we’re like, Let’s kinda dig into the history a little bit. So when Google wasn’t the dominant search engine, there was AOL and Yahoo and bunch of these that are searching is basically where the the the big market players. And the way that worked was basically just based on keywords. So you would look up the keyword and we’ll look and see, okay. What are some of the web pages that have the most keywords that match it? And what happens is that a lot of these marketers when stuffed their keywords on their page and

James [00:08:00]:

they get Yeah. We have all the black hat, some white hat. Yeah. Oh, yeah. So you get a bunch of junk.

Farzad Rashidi [00:08:06]:

So what Google lit was basically relying on credibility and and popularity to to rank search results. So not only they look at the content on the page that developed this algorithm called page rank, which I thought it was because it was ranking pages, but it’s actually named after Larry Page, the the founder. Oh, funny. Yeah. I never knew that. I didn’t know that either. Yeah. Anyhow, so he came up with this algorithm and was like, okay. Let’s not just look at what’s on the webpage. In order to rank web pages, let’s look at what other relevant authoritative websites are talking about them. So the more websites in your space are talking about you, they it it looks at it as a as a voter popularity, basically. So if other people are talking about you, then you must be a credible resource. So let you you get up in the search list. And I guess very interesting, isn’t it? So not not only you can not only you can’t just stuff keywords and get up in the search results, you not have to convince other people to actually talk about you. And that that’s what’s really the the core of Google’s algorithm. So we’re like, okay. Now that sounds great. Let’s just go get some other people to talk about it. and and that helps us get up in the search results. And it did turn out to be a lot more difficult.

James [00:09:19]:

No. Right?

Farzad Rashidi [00:09:21]:

Yeah. Because, you know, when you when you’re writing content and building web pages, that’s why a lot of agencies just focus on that. Right? build it on page SEO. So you just grab a Google Doc and just write some words, and there you go, bam. We got a blog post. And then now that you gotta do this bunch of these AI tools that they just pop out of blog post, but just click a button. Mhmm. So the to me, that basically is, like, a base foundation. Like, the bare minimum you can do, and that’s what everybody else is doing. So really stand out you had to actually start doing some outreach, you know, basically getting other websites to perhaps for you and and talk about you, and that includes know, digital PR campaigns going on podcasts. Right? Right. That’s what I’m doing now. Calabrio ones. Right? Yeah. Exactly. And so long story short, that process was sort of done manually at the beginning where it sort of duct taped a bunch of different tools and and manually emailing people and reach out. And it gets very messy, very quickly. And so what we did basically was just to put together the whole process that was working manually, put in an internal software that we built ourselves, and it just worked ridiculously well. And it just, like, 10xstop productivity and helped us really, really scale that initiative and that skyrocketivism is growth. And so we decided to release it as a stand alone product. Oh, nice. — respondent was born. So that’s the the and the rest is history.

James [00:10:48]:

Alright. So how long ago are we talking when it was created or when it when you shifted gears to offering it as a standalone product?

Farzad Rashidi [00:10:58]:

2019, and that’s when we first released the first I would say, the public version — Alright. — was open. And tell me about the deliberation, the committee that had to be on there to talk about, hey. Should we release this? because now we’re changing focus a little bit or — Mhmm. — multiplying focus, which can be a challenge depending upon how many crew you have. Yeah. Exactly. So that was that was one thing that we wanted to keep it completely separate because what happens when you have a company that has successful product on on the right trajectory. You don’t wanna shift your focus into and and so to dilute your efforts. So when I sort of pitched the idea to the founder of his meeting, Paimon, he was sort sort of adamant that, hey. This is his own separate thing. it requires us. It’s selling team members, full time employees, separate, and entity separate, a bank account like separate completely everything so that it doesn’t take away from Oh, so it’s treated as an entirely separate business then? Separate business. Yes. It’s a completely separate thing. So I basically shift over and and and manage the team and Right now, which model has its own infrastructure, and it’s its own thing. So it was a little baby thing incubated there, and and now it’s its its own

James [00:12:09]:

growing teenager. So yeah. So you were an employee of a successful business, and then you said, hey. I wanna run with little offshoot, there had to be some risk on your end then because you don’t necessarily know that the offshoot is gonna be successful. but the place that you’re working at is successful.

Farzad Rashidi [00:12:29]:

So tell me what was going through your head with this. Well, it’s something that I always wanted to do. I mean, I I do and I came up with the idea of responding myself. Like, it’s something that has been sort of I mean, throughout my life, I’ve always been the creator, you know, coming up with ideas, and most of them have been bad. But there are some good ones. You know? And this was one of the good ones, and and I was very confident that it’s gonna work out because it’s something that we built for ourselves where I need. So we had a very deep understanding of the problem. and we implemented it, and it worked. It was an actual solution to the problem that was very serious. And now imagine at the the extent of the market. Right? So now you have lots of these other software companies, these agencies, other sources of businesses that wanna get traffic. And not only that, but just promote themselves, and we finally built a solution that was working, actually delivering results. So was a no brainer for us to give it a shot and and and required quite a lot of investment, obviously, time wise, funding wise. But now if I go back, I would do the same thing. So — Alright. — 100%.

James [00:13:39]:

Very cool. So did the the parent company, so to speak, I guess, when when they is it safe to say allowed you to run with this thing? Is that safe to say? The founder of founder

Farzad Rashidi [00:13:54]:

of Bizmi is still the the founder of of Respona as well. So he basically is you know, the the president, the company, and and and so it wasn’t like, there wasn’t at any conflict interest as far as, you know, I’m gonna go do my own thing. Right? It was something that was sort of developed together. And yeah. So that that’s sort of right now. I’m the person basically managing this effort and and taking it forward. So that — But he I guess what I’m asking is you

James [00:14:22]:

were successful with Visme. And so for for for this to be a separate entity, this guy’s losing essentially a good employee. on the Vimy side that he’ll he’ll have to replace. Mhmm. So he’s kinda taken it somewhat guaranteed as much as it can be or as much as any employee can be. Right. And putting it into this, I’m gonna challenge it a little bit and say riskier because it’s brand new. Mhmm. Right? So it should be a given thing, but from an employer standpoint, that was a risk on his end as well. So kudos to him.

Farzad Rashidi [00:14:56]:

Yeah. 100%. I mean, I wouldn’t be here. if it wasn’t, which is support. So a 100%. I mean — Yeah. — definitely took risk on both sides, and I’m glad it was a it was a well educated guess But, you know, we I’m glad we did it because now we are helping thousands about our businesses sort of taking advantage of this platform. So — That is incredible.

James [00:15:18]:

Yeah. Thank you. That is incredible. Tell me you have certain vertical of businesses that I would assume that you’re targeting. When I look at your website, it mentions software as a service businesses. Mhmm. What other verticals do you get into with this? We’re normally, I would say, half and half

Farzad Rashidi [00:15:35]:

other half are agencies. So, basically, SEO and marketing agencies that offer the sort services to other to their clients. Oh, okay. — our platform back end, which cost $99 a month through start with, and they charge a client in thousands of dollars a month and retainer us to actually do the work that. Everybody’s just trying to make money. Right? Just a special deal. No. I mean, obviously, lots I mean, business that we’re too, that they can just purchase stone tools and do it internally. They just don’t wanna deal with it. You know, they don’t have to resources internally or to know how. Right? So that’s that’s one of the biggest challenges we have also as a company is education sort of because, you know, I always say this response is kind of sort of like a knife Right? It helps you find an outreach and and and do all that. But you need the strategy. You need the right messaging. and that’s something that requires a chef, right, to have the the recipe and to make the food. It’s not just enough to have a sharp knife. So And these agencies are the chefs. Right? So you can either cook a home or you can go to a restaurant. So don’t think it’s anybody’s getting ripped off here. It’s just a matter of, you know, priorities, some companies that have — They okay. Okay. So there’s labor involved on the agency side. Exactly. That when somebody buys it just on their own, they have to invest that time and

James [00:16:53]:

energy in there. So tell me — 100%. I guess, how does it work? Right? Somebody signs up, and they’re like, great. I have this tool. Right? I have this hammer. I need to learn how to use a hammer. How much time is a typical client expected, or is it a good idea for them in the bank on spending in a given, let’s say, month to make this thing work for them?

Farzad Rashidi [00:17:14]:

So that’s a great question. So it actually isn’t difficult to use, and that was one of the things that we wanted to make it super, super easy to to plug and play. So we actually have, like, campaign templates. So when you log in, you’re like, okay. What do you wanna do? So let’s just take an example. Let’s actually take a new book. an example. We just did a case study actually with a book publishing company that offers this as a service. But, Leslie, you wanna do it yourself. So you go sign up Farzad Respona, And then we give you a locked list of strategies that you can start with. And then each one of these strategies, they just we just ask you a few questions, and it will build that campaign for you. So one of the best strategies I would say for for her book publishing is going as a guest on podcasts, which is what I’m doing right now. Right? Alright. So there’s a couple different things you can do. Like, for example, one of my favorite strategies is to actually look up other founders or other people in your industry. Like, if there are any other marketing agency owners or business coaches, etcetera, that have released a book And you can basically type their name and company name into Respona, and it will go and find all the interviews they’ve been a guest on over the course of the past year or whatever. interesting. Yeah. — with anybody. And so that automatically tells you three things about these podcasts instead of just doing a regular keyword research of finding general business podcast. 1, these boxes accept guests because not all podcasts do, right, 2, they’re relevant to your space because they’ve obviously interviewed someone. in your space, and, also, make your life easier when it comes to personalization because you can reference that episode. So if I actually look it up, like, that email that our team members reached out to you with. He actually referenced a person of that we respect and luck that has been on your show. when you get that email, it doesn’t look like a cookie cutter email that we sent out to everyone because we actually have done this the research and and figured out, okay, is this a good show for Fireflies? Is type of audience that I can add value to, and and it’s reflected in the email pitch that we sent you. So that that’s I’m sure, you know, you gotta these pictures every day

James [00:19:18]:

from these cities to me there. Some yeah. I get them definitely every day. Sometimes more than every day. Yeah. And it’s just you can’t say yes to all of them. You don’t wanna say yes to all of them. But, actually, there’s some like this that I was like, I love it especially when you use your own tool as, in the case of marketing, use your own marketing tool essentially to market your marketing business. So it’s clever. And I remember the email when you when I don’t know if it was you or somebody else. I didn’t even know if that’s a real person or not. But they mentioned the other podcast, so that was that was definitely a good hook. I actually just found

Farzad Rashidi [00:19:59]:

the email that Yvonne sent you. Yes. He’s a team member. Shout out to Yvonne. Thank you for — Alright. You never know if it’s just a real a real human, or is this just a made up — Nope. Real time. Right? You don’t know. That’s the real dream. No. No. No. We don’t know who’s one of our marketing team members. He does that. Helps out with average. and actually referenced Melissa. Melissa Quanner, ewebinar.

James [00:20:18]:

Oh, yeah.

Farzad Rashidi [00:20:19]:

So they’re a Respona customer as well. So I’m not sure if they use that platform to to land the interview with you. But so, yeah, Melissa. — may have. Yeah. She may have. She reached out to me, so she may have.

James [00:20:30]:

How funny would that be? That’s a small ball.

Farzad Rashidi [00:20:34]:

Exactly. So yeah. So, I mean, it’s it’s helping entrepreneurs gain visibility and trust. And that is just one out of a gazillion different strategies, you know, that you can do to promote your book. as lots of different ways, like, for example, a listicle strategy. So you could look up all the new blog posts that are getting published and, hey, what are some of the best business books or something like that? you could go ahead and pitch your book to be mentioned on there. Like, hey. I’d love to send you a free copy if you were kind to give as I mentioned here. And there’s lots and lots of different ways tactics like that that keep utilize. But the process of, okay, now found this blog post. I wanna reach out to them. Who’s the right person on the website? Okay. It’s James. Alright. Great. Who is James? What what’s his job title? Like, is it someone that has editorial access or Is it that type of person happy to write contact? If so, what’s his email? And what’s his LinkedIn? What’s the best way to contact him? And then what did we say to him? Let’s personalize a pitch. Let’s set up our automated follow-up because he most likely won’t reply to our first pitch. So all of that processes is sort of put together and streamlined using that platform so that you can go from start to finish in 10 minutes instead of what would normally take 10 hours manually.

James [00:21:45]:

Alright. Very cool. So correct me if I’m wrong here. Sounds like there’s some template or essentially that you’re starting out with, you’re writing some emails and all that jazz. But once it gets really going and you’re seeing what’s working within the system, Is it somewhat automated where, initially, you’re spending more time, but once it gets going, you kinda just collect a fish. so to speak.

Farzad Rashidi [00:22:09]:

Yep. A 100%. I mean, it all of the dirty research work, like manual work is all automated. So, like, finding contacts in the emails application, finding episodes, all that stuff is is fully automated. But the actual personalization of the pitches, that’s something that still requires a human touch. Now we’re still also we’re working on some AI features that also, like, actually listens to the episode that you found a contact where, like, reads the page and acts actually, based on the summary of the page, personalizes the emails for you. So this is something that we actually experimenting with right now. But it still requires a human actually review the email and make sure that we do some research to figure out if they’re the right fit. Right? And that’s something that requires some human element. It’s not something that we wanna fully automate early because, obviously, we don’t wanna just make the Internet, and then they did just automatic, you know, emails and and and junk. Right. So the whole goal is to build relationships with other people, and and and Respona just helps to identify the right people to build relationships with. and automates a lot of the door to work tasks. So then now I can spend instead of spending hours researching these opportunities, I can spend an hour chatting with you doing this episode together. Right? It’s a lot more productive way of using my time instead of just dealing with spreadsheets and bunch of stuff they can offer.

James [00:23:29]:

So does this also work for, let’s say, a local business? I’m a I don’t know. I’m a plumber in, let’s say, Madison, Wisconsin area, so I’m not trying to reach somebody in Los Angeles. Right. I just have my, whatever, sixty mile radius circle. ish — Mhmm. — that I’m after for clients. So I don’t need or couldn’t help thousands of people. So can it be refined? 2 or, I guess, maybe just tell me how it can be refined.

Farzad Rashidi [00:23:57]:

Right. So it goes back to the the customer acquisition strategies. What’s the way you can get customers at at the most affordable in in the most affordable way possible. So I personally don’t recommend SEO to the majority of your businesses. Some of them are actually listening to the show. Wow. Okay. Yeah.

James [00:24:17]:

Yeah. Exactly. That’s the first time I’ve heard that. Holy cow.

Farzad Rashidi [00:24:21]:

Alright. 100%. Tell me more. — why. I’m a tell you why. So if you are, for example, a plumber and you have a certain geographic area that you cater to, are much better ways on getting your business shown to people in that region. One of which is local SEO, which basically, hey. Put together Google My Business, get your customers to write a review for you, give them a gift card, give them a free, plumbing job if they’re right. You have a good review. And because from a customer perspective, when I’m looking at No. When I wanna hire plumber, first thing I will do is that I will look up, you know, plumbers near me or something like that, either on Google Maps, or or on on Google. I’m maps or, you know, even if I go on Google, I’ll norm them looking at specific geographic area. So that doesn’t require you to have a landing kademan or maybe you can have a landing page or a website, but it’s not a a a type of website that’s basically catered to the international audience that is the whole Internet. Right? So you’re not trying to write hey. What are some of the best ways to unclog a toilet? Like, that type of audience could come land on your page from China. Right? So that’s not really a very effective way of using the resources to start getting your content pitches up for, you know, top of a funnel keywords and kind of working way down. Instead, what I would recommend is, you know, to like more reviews than you Google My Business, maybe you can run some Google Ads or people that are looking at your specific location because the cost per click’s probably gonna be super low since you’re looking at, you know, Madison and Wisconsin, like, very, very specific geographical area. Mhmm. So there are more effective lower cost ways on getting your name out there. And if and most likely, if you’re a plumber, you don’t need thousands of customers a day. You need a you need a dozen, right, a week, which is great. So it’s overkill. It’s kinda like putting rocket fuel in a car. Right? It’s not an efficient way of of using resources. However, if you are a and, like, for example, a plumbing in a like, a nationwide plumbing company that have locations all over the country or or say you’re an affiliate site. So you I wanna say that refers leads to plumbers. So for that type of website, I will recommend putting a putting together SEO strategies kinda catered to a larger audience. But local brick and mortar businesses that cater specifically just to specific geographical area, I don’t recommend globalization. That’s that’s not a good way. Like, I’ve seen people that that are, like, a an apartment community or something. And they write blog posts about some some random topics about apartments. I’m like, this is a waste of time and effort. Like, there are much better ways to inquire a customer. Right? So let me give you a couple of examples. How do we actually determine if it’s the right fit for you? Right? I think that that’s an important question to answer. Bear to listen. 1, exactly. 1, are you customers aware of the problem they’re solving, or it’s it’s a nice to have? Say that one more time. Are your customers aware of the problems that you’re solving? Oh, are they aware? Okay. Sure. And 2, if they are where, where they’re looking for it? How does that wire journey look like? And if the answer is yes, they’re where, and they’re googling it, And then that’s a that’s a clear indication you have to invest in next year, a 100%. But majority of business is not like that. So for example, one of my bit one of my friends started a payroll company in college, right, as college students do. Sure. It’s alright. gotta pay for it somehow. Right? Yeah. Which is great. But, you know, he was trying to set up his website and start getting organic traffic which I didn’t recommend him because there are a lot better ways on how you can utilize a lifestyle product like that because it’s not likely I’ll be looking at or specifically looking at these keywords and actually wanting to purchase a t shirt. What the way majority of people buy t shirts that they either see it and influence they’re wearing it or they go on to the store, right, and and buy it. So building relationships with these brick and mortar retailers or running Facebook ads or or hiring TikTok influencers or making TikTok dances. So that may be a better strategy for a for a product like that. On the other end of the spectrum, you may be selling MRI machines to hospitals. Nobody’s Googling okay. MRI machine. That’s, like, it’s, like, a $1,000,000 machine. They’re

James [00:29:02]:

ran new employee. There was no — Yeah. That’s ridiculous. So you have to build

Farzad Rashidi [00:29:07]:

relationships with hospitals. You need to go door to door, hire a bunch of sales people go selling or how we weigh medical industry works. I’m not an expert in that. But but if you look at most businesses around us, they don’t operate that way. There are local businesses that have a certain way of acquiring customers, and and that’s great. Just double down stuff that works. Don’t try to invent new new ways. But there are some subset of businesses like ours. Right? If I wanna link building software, What’s the first thing I do? I go and and I’m like, okay. How do I increase traffic to my website? Or how do I market my book? Or how do I or I I wanna build back into my website, or what’s the best link building software? What are some of the best link building tools? We need to show up in all of those places if you wanna acquire that customer. It’s unlikely that you would see a TikTok dance of someone.

James [00:29:59]:

Oh, just reading a book. Yeah. Exactly.

Farzad Rashidi [00:30:01]:

So you know what I mean? So it it all comes down to your buyer, your ideal, your ICP, your ideal customer, profile, and and how that buyer journey looks like, and you cater to that and every step of the journey.

James [00:30:14]:

Alright. So as I’m thinking about this and talking to you, I can think of some businesses, my own included, that think, like, yes. I could certainly use something like this. Mhmm. But I don’t know what you raised that first question. Is the client or potential client aware of the problem? I don’t know that I’m smart enough to know to search for software like this. Mhmm. I would go and this is probably just because I’m more We’ll call old school instead of just old. I would look for an employee to

Farzad Rashidi [00:30:48]:

do the grunt work for something like this rather than find software to do the majority of the grunt work. Yeah. And that’s what majority of people do, and that’s what I have for our customer base or agencies. Right? Okay. So the the kicker to the more traditional side of the market. Like, if we have, for example, 1 of the largest, like, construction companies, like, they’re very good at construction. And they want to get their website up because they have international operations, and they actually cater to a lot of these. And they wanna actually show up for specific keywords they have. they’re not gonna purchase a software that would do that internally because they don’t have the technical know how or the willingness to to have the technical know how to do it in house. So they would much rather work with a proven agency that has worked with clients in their space already has to know how, already has to set right tools, and they just pay them however much money they’re asking for, and then let them handle it. Hands off. So I guess, in my point, I would much rather pay for software than pay a person

James [00:31:48]:

because the software doesn’t come with the baggage that a person does, broadly speaking. Right. So but I wouldn’t know to look for it.

Farzad Rashidi [00:31:56]:

Yeah. So what we normally do is that we match folks that don’t have like, we have lots of even companies software companies like that that require customers through all of their organic. They’re like, hey. I don’t have resources to do this internally. that we match and normally with a freelancer, we can help them sort of strategize and build that campaigns. So we do help with that, but, obviously, it’s a it’s a challenge. because you have to figure out where to put your eggs. Right? So what what can you do in your 8 hours that that would be most productive? So if you’re really good at one thing, For example, if you’re very good at, you know, writing or if you’re good at whatever, just deal what you’re good at and you normally delegate the rest of it. Mhmm. So in other words, I would say, if you’re in a more traditional industry, it’s much better to work with an agency that then knows their stuff it’d be a much more productive way of spending your resources. But on the other hand, it says that a marketing expert like yourself, you know, who who knows how to get around using tools and doing that, it’s a lot more economical to do this in house. Alright. For example, one of our employees as outreach for us and builds 20 quality mentions from other websites every week. That’s around, I would say, 80 to a 100 a month. And an agency would charge you about $500 for each one of these relationships. for each one? For each one. So it’s around 40 to 50 k a month. That’s a healthy thing. That agency would charge us, but I have one person Yeah. Mandes it from a to z, and he has some other responsibilities on the side. So it it it makes sense, but it’s because we’re very good at it. Right? Alright. But on the other hand, if you don’t have the mark marking know how, it may make more sense to just do more of what you’re good at and just delegate the rest of it to to agency. That so that’s how we would go about it normally.

James [00:33:54]:

Yeah. Got it. That’s interesting. I had no idea that agency would charge something like that. Mhmm. because to me, backlinks you need an incredible amount because sooner or later that website’s gonna go away or that page could go away or something like that? There’s stuff that I mean, it’s just it seems like somewhat of a moving target. Right. So — — pay for that 1, and then the next day, it’s gone or whatever.

Farzad Rashidi [00:34:19]:

Gotcha. So that’s where most people go wrong with it. Right? And that’s why I recommend working with the trusted person because there’s so much malpractice done into space. So you go on fiverr and say, hey. Give me a a 1000 backlinks for $2. And yeah. So guess where that comes from. So there’s something called PBMs or private blog or networks. So sites that are just built to give out links. And so those, you know, that Google, have absolutely no value. or even if some mistakenly do over the long run, they would have zero. Oh, gotcha. Okay. So what you wanna do is to build relationships with authoritative resources in your space. You want a link from a site like to responder, or we are getting a link from a legitimate business. or or drawing customers dotcom. Right? Mhmm. Stuff that basically doesn’t accept payments for links. We want those. Why? Because that’s the these are the ones that matter at the end of the day. There is no cheating this system. And that’s what people wanna do is to take shortcuts and kind of get a get rich quick type approaches to to businesses, and what happens is that most of those obviously fail. And so What I’m trying to say is that it’s it’s supposed to be difficult to do. That’s why it’s still a ranking factor. That’s why it still has an impact 20 years after like, in technology, it’s very rare that something sticks around for that long. But in fact, that’s there’s the reason why it’s supposed to be difficult to get other people to talk about you. Got it. Tell me just from your opinion.

James [00:35:48]:

This is one of the challenges that I have that I feel like the search engines, Google Bing, whatever. that they all have to have because there are gonna be large companies, let’s say, like, pepsi.com or something like that that have a budget to have the crew to learn the game with the search engines and play the game. And then you’re gonna have Joe’s showed Soda Shack or something like that — Right. — who does not have the budget, does not have the employees, and probably has his grandson throwing up a website in the basement. Mhmm. But Joe’s Soda Shack is still a legitimate business. Right. But it’s are they playing on the same playing field as far as the search engine is concerned? Or is the search engines are they looking at the bigger players saying like, hey. We gotta look at you a little bit deeper to make sure that that you’re not doing some crazy black hat stuff. Or is it just more or less, like, these are the rules? Tell you if I ever dealt with whether you know them or not. Right. It’s the same way. So

Farzad Rashidi [00:36:49]:

So it that’s normally a very common question. That’s a great question you’re asking, James. Is that, hey. What if I so you can give up, obviously. For example, When we started visiting, we’re we were going against people that had 100 of 1,000,000 of dollars in funding, and they still do. Oh. They’re still raising, and they’re about to go public. They’re — Alright. — companies. Well, that’s so — Adobe. That’s one of our competitors. Adobe is. Yeah. It’s some giant design companies.

James [00:37:15]:

They have a they have software similar to what you have going on?

Farzad Rashidi [00:37:19]:

Not on Respona. I was talking about the other side. Oh, gotcha. Gotcha. Okay. Right? Or we respond to wearing a smaller niche, much smaller niche. Well, there are still I mean, everybody in our industry is a SEO person. So It’s it’s a very competitive place to be. Alright. What I’m trying to say is that you can still make it work for smaller businesses because we’ve done it repeatedly. It’s not something that it’s a one time lock or something like that. Okay. And it’s just a different process us when you go about it. When it when it comes to multimillion dollar budgets, larger websites, you normally have certain goals and objectives that you go after more competitive, more higher volume keywords in terms of normally dominate to put some of the big guys. Mhmm. But when it comes to smaller business, you normally are are looking at more of a longer tail variations of the keywords, lower competitive or lower in competition keywords that that are still matching intent. but you also have to have a spin on your product or the service that you offer. So for example, Walmart took out all of the grocery stores. that are local grocery stores. So if if you don’t have any sort of differentiated factor, you’re gonna go out of business anyway. So that doesn’t matter what your cost commercial position status. Alright. But if you have it spinning your product. Like, for example, for Responda, we don’t advertise ourselves as a as a PR software. Now there is meltwater and Cision, and these are multibillion companies that offer these, you know, press release distribution, and it’s just not something that we’re interested in nor we wanna be in that market. Mhmm. In order to market that is for sales outreach. Again, we are very closely related. But we pick a niche that we are very good at, and and it’s very differentiated. And there’s a certain group of people that are actively looking for it. And so that’s the type of keywords, and that’s the type of, I would say, intent that we go after. It’s not that necessarily just on our SEO for our internal marketing strategy. So you have to have a certain spin, certain differentiated factor you can’t go head to head with these bigger companies because if you start a soda company, for example, it’s not a very smart move

James [00:39:29]:

unless It’s a little tougher. Yeah. Exactly. We can just — — r c cola. Right? Like, you guys — But make make, like, kombucha

Farzad Rashidi [00:39:36]:

tea, something, go sell it to vegans. You know, do that spin on the soda. Don’t make another Coca Cola because they own the market already. So what I’m trying to say is, You gotta start from a certain niche and and just kinda expand from there. And that’s our goal as well. I mean, we’d respond that. We didn’t go after huge industries. You’re like — Mhmm. — link building. Right. Now we’re also expanding into affiliate recruitment. So if you have an affiliate program, you need to get other websites to promote you. So that’s one of our rising use cases, podcast outreach, So what I’m looking at so stuff use cases that are very closely related to our product that we that we can be very good at and delivers results, but it’s not something that huge corporations have focused on in the past. So once we are number once offered, and we kinda start expanding into other bigger and bigger industries and kind of take that approach.

James [00:40:29]:

Got it. Got it. That is cool. I like it. The SEO thing is just a game. that I sit on the sidelines and watch probably more on the sidelines than I should, but it’s one of those it’s fascinating, but holy cow. Do you gotta know the the game. So I I guess speaking of that, from a segue point of view, when you first started creating this product, when you’re working for Viomi, what were some of the challenges or some of the obstacles that you ran into in creating this product just for Viomi itself?

Farzad Rashidi [00:41:02]:

Right. So what building software I mean, I didn’t realize how difficult it was because I joined Bizbee a few years into their journey. But it it’s brutal. It’s just insanely difficult. And it’s it’s just something that as, like, consumers, we don’t understand it. Like, I joined. And even though while I was working at the company, I didn’t understand the extent of the amount of work that goes into creating these products. That would be easy to use and on this beyond and and for them to work the way they should. so many technical details, and I’m not a technical person. I’m I’m marketing sales guy. So it it’s for me to understand it in a way that I can hired the right people and and instruct them with the right, you know, set of features and — Mhmm. And and basically driving the ship. It it’s something that requires an insane amount of experience. So I was lucky to have pay money would be basically the mentor, and he’s gone through it all, and and and, you know, he’s been in the business for over 20 years. So, basically, be able to provide the guidance to do it. But, yes, insanely difficult. And it’s not and and the the thing about it is that building the product is the easy part of it. then how do we actually go about selling to product? Yeah. And and sort of putting that together from scratch. That every single thing that you do is a is not supposed to work. That’s when most startups fail. Because, like, in order to build a great product, you need to have a lot of funding, have a lot of cash, in order to get a lot of funding, have a lot of cash, you need to have a great product, all contradicting each other. So you’re dealing with you’re sort of building the car as you’re driving it. That’s, like, the easiest oh, that’s, like, the closest thing I’ve I’ve come to. Alright. But that’s a good thing. It’s supposed to be old. Why? Because it’s a it’s a different it’s it’s a barrier to entry. Not everybody in the Grameter’s kademan can create a product that does the things that respondent does. That’s great. Taking us years in technical know how and lots of investment internally to make it work. And so So, yeah, that’s where I would leave it at. Alright.

James [00:43:18]:

So when you were looking I’m looking on your website, and there’s you got bloggers you’re reaching out to. podcast hosts that you’re reaching out to and other, I guess, website types, I guess, for lack of a better word. How do you figure out Or one, I guess, how did you know to look at bloggers versus podcasters versus other just random sites? Mhmm. I I say random, not meaning the word random. I don’t know what a good word is. Other types of sites, I guess. 1, I guess, from a podcaster’s point of view, I remember I started my podcast a few years ago. Mhmm. And you get going, and I was constantly having to reach out and get guests. And I was I was concentrating more or less local here. Most of that was in person. Pandemic hits, we go over remote. But over the course of that time and as they started getting more popular, all these people are reaching out to me. Mhmm. And I’m thinking, like, I got I’m an audience and all that jazz, but you still have to talk to me for an hour. which I’m gonna consider an awesome thing. But it’s one of the most things where I’m like, is this really offering value the value that they’re hoping for? is just instead of the content itself, it’s more the link from the content to their website. Right. Is there a whole bunch of — — let you know did you know there’s value there?

Farzad Rashidi [00:44:38]:

So, I mean, there’s a value there. Yeah. So we we’re not doing this just for the sake of get in a back window. We have processes in place that we can while we are having this conversation, we probably would have had a handful of, like, generated. So The reason why I spend the time to do it is is because of it there’s a few sides to it. One is meeting smart people in our industry. So you and I have been chatting for an hour. We’re gonna be buddies. You know, we’re gonna ski each other on LinkedIn. You know? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And each other’s post. You you you write a book. write a review for your book. You know, we build these relationships and help each other out, and that’s something that I really like to do on a regular basis. So I go on one podcast once a week. So it’s not something that I do every day. You’re not doing dozens a day or something.

James [00:45:26]:

I don’t know why I thought that. It’s just

Farzad Rashidi [00:45:28]:

once once a day. So it was about 60 podcasts like last year. So so over time, there are some snowball effects to it, but something podcast is more popular than that are obviously puts us in front of the right audience. So there’s obviously some free advertising aspect to it, and and And it’s one of those marketing touch points for us. Right? We don’t expect anybody who listens to the show to go and purchase our product. Probably shouldn’t either. Right? because they’re most likely won’t aren’t ready, just fine. But now everybody’s heard of Respona. Anybody who’s listened to the show. They’re part of my name. So we have that level of credibility. Right? So now next time someone is talking to someone. So there’s some untraceable effects that that we can’t track. which is fine with us. But as I said, there’s lots of different benefits to doing this. And and the reason why I personally do it is because of that. Some founders that didn’t like to do it, and that’s fine. I mean, they they prioritize that their timing in different ways. But I like to spend 1 hour once a week to do a podcast interview and and spend free 12, and I plan on doing it for for the foreseeable future. Alright. Very cool.

James [00:46:37]:

Very cool. Yeah. I didn’t mean that insulting or anything. It was just a curiosity. As I saw more people reaching out to me, For for a hot minute, I thought that’s awesome. And then for another minute, I’m like, wait a second. I know it’s cool and all that jazz, but I feel like there’s more the story than I know. Yeah. So — Yeah. Yeah. And in the end, I guess, I don’t care. I love talking with people.

Farzad Rashidi [00:46:59]:

Yeah. We know. — something for the audience rocking it all, man. Exactly. And, you know, that’s it it’s just the key to any sort of outreach campaign we do is a mutually beneficial collaboration So — Mhmm. — what we’re getting out of this is both of us built a new friendship, new relationship online. and and I come on the show and help you create a podcast episode that you could publish and utilize and run ads too and and, you know, however weigh monetize the pockets or don’t. Mhmm. And and on the other side, you know, we get some exposure to our audience. and and you mentioned us in the show notes, which is great. So it’s supposed to be mutually beneficial. Nobody should be with opinion each other up. The whole point of doing business and being and and doing what we do is is to create value. Right? And so that everybody wins instead of just one person being taken advantage of. Yeah.

James [00:47:53]:

Very cool. Well, I love it. This has been And lightning because I feel like I’ve been giving some people some bad advice, though it was years ago, about smaller businesses small local businesses, and I told them to get some content out there to prove that they were the expert. So I’m like, you got 5,000,000 other plumbers, maybe not 5,000,000. You got 50 other plumbers out there, and people don’t know you from from Joe. So I have the blog on there that says, hey. How to jiggle the handle on the toilet or whatever it is. Right. The plumber needs to market. But it’s interesting that you said, don’t waste your time on that because there’s other ways that are more productive.

Farzad Rashidi [00:48:41]:

Right. The reason why I say that is a lot of people think that their blog into their website, and, again, this is something that most of people believe is that it’s it’s a way for people to come onto your site and then navigate to a blog and read your content. We never put that for half. — to say that people read my content cover to cover, but I’m Yes. Fairly certain. It never works like that. The way it works is that they find your content — Mhmm. — then find your way to your website. Gotcha. Alright. It goes backwards. So the blog is the is the gateway into your site. So — Mhmm. — right top of funnel content to get people in the funnel. now that they download the ebook, we got their email, or now they go navigate to the site and sign up for a free trial, and now they’re a lead. and then they become a customer. So you kind of are it’s it’s a way to get exposure to get people top of the funnel. And, obviously, most of them are gonna there’s friction. But — Right. But, yeah, that that’s that’s one thing.

James [00:49:40]:

Cool. I love it. This is fun. The marketing game is so much fun. Sometimes I wish it was easier, but in the end, then it’d be easier for everyone. So I guess there’s gotta be a pain in the butt for everyone the same. So I appreciate you being on the show. It’s my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me, James. This has been Authentic Business Adventures, the business program that brings you the struggle stories and try and pin successes of business owners across the land. If you’re listening or watching this on the web, if you could do us a huge favor, give it the big ol thumbs up. Subscribe and, of course, Share it with your entrepreneurial friends, and we’d love to hear the comments, let us know how the SEO stuff is working for you, how online marketing is working for you, and just reaching out to people. This is fun. I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. My name is James Kademan, and authentic business adventures is brought to you by calls on call, offering call answering services for service businesses across the country on the web calls on call.com as well as the bold business book, a book for the entrepreneur, and all of us available wherever fine books are sold. We’d like to thank you, our wonderful listeners, as well as our guest, Farzad Rashidi of Respona. What did you put there? Lead innovator. I love that. because I suppose that never stops. Does it? Exactly. That’s the game of marketing. Right?

Farzad Rashidi [00:50:57]:

Oh, indeed.

James [00:50:58]:

Past episodes can be found morning noon 9th podcast link phone at drawincustomerscom. Thanks for watching. We will see you next week. I want you to stay awesome, and if you do nothing else, enjoy your business.

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