The Local Business Internet Marketing University is the brain child of myself, Joshua Mackens, owner of Tutelary Marketing.
To give you our history, really we have to start with our parent company, Tutelary Marketing.
In May of 2010, I graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, TN.
For the next few months, I would pick up odd and end jobs until I figured out what I really wanted to do.
After awhile, I figured out that I wanted to work for a local business, figuring the smaller the better because I wanted to see the ends and outs of how a small business was run so that I could start my own business some day. So, I applied and was hired as a sales and marketing associate at a local hot tub retail company in Nashville in February of 2011.
One of my responsibilities while at the local hot tub retail company was to learn Local SEO and implement it. Like home buyers, most people looking for hot tubs start their search online. After working there awhile and learning Local SEO on the job, I realized I had become very good at Local SEO. In fact, I felt (whether true or not) that I could perform just as well as the Local SEO company my boss had hired to supplement my SEO work. He was paying this company $1,500 a month, which was almost as much as he paid me total, so you can see how I saw dollar signs.
Four months later, after an obviously short tenure, I was laid off due to the then still struggling economy. Whether that was the truth or not didn’t matter because while I was working at the hot tub company, I had gotten my logo, business cards, and website together for my new Local SEO company and had even already pitched a few local businesses in Gatlinburg on a family vacation. I was prepared.
Needless to say, I prepared to hit the ground running. And I did.
In June of 2011, Tutelary Marketing became a reality.
I didn’t really start to develop any momentum in Tutelary Marketing until November of 2011. For those first 5 months I made the mistake of trying to charge too much for something I didn’t have proven results in yet. I knew a lot about Local SEO but I didn’t have any prior work to back that up besides my Local SEO results with my hot tub retail company. So one day in November, I was praying and God told me to drop my price down for my services and onboard a few clients for a 3 month trial at $99 a month, a price point unheard of in Local SEO. I listened and by December I had 11 clients on that trial plan. When the trial came up I ended up keeping 7 of my clients. I then raised my price to $300 a month for those clients and took off from there, raising my prices as my skills and knowledge increased.
The University is Conceived
As my business grew I began to realize one of my passions and something I especially loved was educating my clients. I loved helping them understand how Local SEO worked. As a result I started to love consulting with companies who couldn’t afford my services directly, teaching them how to do their own Local SEO on a budget. I also started to realize this type of education was even necessary during sales calls because local business owners simply didn’t know how Google worked and weren’t equipped to make the right decision on which Local SEO company to work with. I can’t tell you how many clients I met with that had horror stories of paying thousands and thousands to Local SEO companies only to get absolutely no where on Google. Had they had just a little bit of education, they would have been able to call the bluff of those Local SEO companies and call them on the fact that they were selling them a load of lies.
Then it dawned on me, if I loved educating people this much on Local SEO, and it was this valuable, I should do this at a national level, online even.
And that’s how the Local Business Internet Marketing University was born in July of 2013.
My goal was to start teaching local businesses how to do their own internet marketing that way they could either a) save a lot of money by doing internet marketing on their own or b) have the knowledge they needed to make sure they hired the right internet marketing company. I was still running Tutelary Marketing (and still do) but I felt like my local business internet marketing experience was something that was sorely needed in the market
I started out with public webinars (which, although somewhat dated, you can still see today on our YouTube channel, which hasn’t been updated in forever). The aim of these webinars was just to provide a lot of value and brand myself as the local business internet marketing expert. I also wrote some ebooks (which you can also still download from the “resources” tab above) to cover some of the topics in the webinar and I also did a lot of networking on Google+ because local business owners hung out there a lot. And that’s really how the University started.
While I was doing these things, I started to get the idea to teach a course covering Local SEO and how to do it yourself since it seemed to be in such high demand. I decided to pull the trigger on it and started putting the videos together. I learned a very, very valuable lesson throughout this process: learn how to manage your energy. As I made these awesome videos, I made the mistake of putting a lot my excitable energy into editing them to make them absolutely perfect. The result was I would spend an hour editing a 15 minute video. Sure, it was perfect, but the “cost” was too high. Eventually I burned out after making around 40 different videos, which to this day haven’t seen the light of day. I just burned out too quickly. What I should have done was release one video at a time and used the positive feedback I got from people to replenish my energy and enthusiasm to keep making even more videos. But it was a great lesson learned.
As a result of the burn out I gave the University a break for a bit. When I came back I decided to start doing webinars again, but this time make them private and charge for them. I did private webinars on Local SEO for local business owners and it became somewhat successful. I charged $20 a month for access to the webinars which were every Friday at 1pm. We recorded them for our members to watch later and even made them into a podcast so people could listen to them on the road. We ended up having 11 subscribers at our peak and while not a wild success, it was at least progress in my goal and passionate to educate local business owners about internet marketing. Eventually that came to a close as we finished up the private webinar course material on Local SEO. I released a small Local SEO course at the end for free (which you can find here) and then set my sights elsewhere.
Maturation and Local Listing Ninja
In February of 2015 I wrote an article on Yext. I wasn’t exactly a huge fan of Yext and the article somewhat reflects that( however, I tried to be unbiased, even getting ripped for being too unbiased in a comment which you can also see at the bottom of the article). Anyways, that article blew up. I was getting tons of comments, with people asking for an alternative product. One that cost less, did more, and combated a lot of the negative features of Yext. I couldn’t recommend one, so I decided to make one. And that’s how Local Listing Ninja was born in November 2015.
I started out with a beta in November. It went well so I did a full release in December where I got 2 orders. Then, in January, I got 8. Then, in February, I got 18. March and April were the same. It was going absolutely bonkers. I was elated. The University was finally taking off. Now I had all this revenue coming in from an amazing product that I could funnel into the amazing vision I had for the University in the first place, to make things easier on local businesses.
However, I had run into a small issue. I was running out of time. Between Tutelary Marketing and the University I was working 60 hour weeks. And while you can do that for awhile, it’s not sustainable (my lesson on energy conservation was paying off). So, I decided to hire somebody to handle Local Listing Ninja so I could focus on the University as a whole as well as Tutelary Marketing. I prayed about it a lot, interviewed a good amount of people, and was eventually blessed to hire Kristina Hoertner in April, who is now our Local Listing Ninja Product Manager, a title she still holds to this day.
And that brings us current!
We have a lot more in our future here at the University and the future is very, very bright. We’re going to be doing a ton of education, building community, and providing even better services as they come along. I encourage you to check out our Mission & Vision page to see our purpose and where we’re going now that you see where we’ve been.
And if you have any questions at all, please contact us!