David Finberg has been building websites since the age of 9 and he decided to go all-in on the digital marketing industry in 2014 when he founded Peaks Digital Marketing. Since then, he’s generated tens of millions of dollars in revenue and has a passion for growing small businesses and corporations through data-driven ROI-centered strategies.
He found creativity lies at the heart of this SEO and SEM innovator. As a “Digital Sherpa” for his clients, David helps guide them on the best online path for the success of their business. He defines success as doing what you want to do and making an impact in the lives of others.
Learn more about David at https://www.peaksdigitalmarketing.com/
Jason Yormark: Hello. And welcome to another episode of Socialistic social Media Agency Stories, where we try to help any aspiring agency owners or current agency owners. Or even if you’re running a business, pull back the curtains on what works, what doesn’t and share with you anything we can that’s going to help you run a more successful agency or business. So thank you for listening. Today, we’ve got another great guest. We’re going to talk all things agency, maybe a little sprinkling of SEO wisdom. So I wanna welcome David Feinberg from Peaks Digital Marketing to the show. Welcome to the show.
David Finberg: Hey, Jason, thanks so much for having me on.
Jason Yormark: Absolutely. Well, let’s go ahead and jump right in. Tell me a little bit about your journey, where you started, how you got to, where you’re at and what you’re currently working on.
David Finberg: Sure. So I actually started in maybe 9-10 years old. Like, building websites is kind of that initial writing is on the wall. This is what I like to do. This is one of my kind of core skill sets with low friction where it’s easier for me than it was for other people. So that’s really where I started with building websites for friends and family. 8-9-10 years old school like Angel Fire, GeoCities, HTML websites from the 90s on a dial up modem. So that was a humble beginnings from the area, actually pivoted into the auto industry for about half a decade and spent a lot of time learning how to become a Mercedes mechanic. And you may say, well, what does that have to do with agency work? And like, how does that kind of correlate to where you are now? That journey and that experience really gave me a couple of skills, time management, attention to detail and just really great active listening skills and trying to figure out what is the real problem. So many of us are not car people. And when you’re talking about a car very similar to a website, like, here’s what I want. It’s making this noise. I want this to go here. And so I had some experience managing a shop while I was in College. Shop out. I’m Harrisonburg, Virginia, which is originally from Washington, DC, Virginia area. And shortly after the College kind of route, I was approached by a couple of buddies that had started their own SEO company, and they said, hey, look, David, we know websites like, we’ve seen some of your content looks pretty great. Give you a shot here and see if you can be our content intern. So that basically turned into writing hundreds of articles and a lot of the more content generation stuff which we all know about at the end of the day. What that kind of progressed into was me leading their SEO team and their digital campaigns. And it really gave me kind of that platform to build my skill set, started interacting with clients on a more technical basis, and it was a great learning experience. It was a bunch of, like, six or seven of us at a house. We’re trying to be almost like if you guys have ever seen the show Entourage, right. They’re all living together and kind of working together and this culture of innovation and fun. And the interesting thing is, as younger kids at that time, I was maybe 26 or 27 years old running through that experience. You know, there’s a lot of learning lessons and a lot of mistakes that get made just to this day. I’m still making mistakes, right. Especially when you’re in your infancy and trying to really take a business off, raise the bar and so to speak and take it to the next level. We we determined that there are a couple of I wouldn’t say we determine it as a whole. There were things that weren’t happening, like money management, things that just created some roadblocks and some hurdles. And the company was making money, the product work, the processes were good. It just didn’t have kind of those legs to take off. And so transition to kind of where I am now, right? What happened is the company effectively disbanded and we all kind of decided we’re going to go our separate ways and try to make things work for ourselves. And so that’s really where I kind of had that humbling experience of moving back into my parents house, which I never thought I would do. Right. Like, really sitting down and saying, okay, what do you want this life to be? And like, this didn’t work out with it was there’s so much potential, right. And so many good things that happen there. And it’s great experiences. And so that’s where I really started to develop the bones of Peaks digital marketing and came up with the logo and the tagline. Those are the two kind of focal pieces that got me enough momentum to kind of keep going. And from there, it’s been my dream to move out to Colorado. My cousin’s an entrepreneur. He’s, like, come out to Colorado. It’s great for startups. There’s just a lot of get off the Beltway in 495 and get out of DC and come out here for a year and see how you like it. So that’s what I did. And then from there, you really taking a step back and saying, okay, well, after you get clients, I have to get a website. I need to generate sales, need to generate income for myself. Right. So I ended up going back into the auto industry, which is something that I would never have to do. And basically we got a laptop from a pawn shop went and was scouring pawn shops for, like, the Hidden Gem laptop that someone didn’t realize what they were getting rid of kind of thing. And I’d make as a mechanic, you’re all Commission. So there’s sometimes where there’s no work or there’s downtime. And in my downtime, I would make the website and just start to put together the collateral of the business. So that was a pretty consistent routine for, like, a year, year and a half. And that’s really when things started to take off for the business where you started to just do whatever I could to get sales. I was asking my neighbors. I was asking friends, family, past clients. Right. All kinds of just whatever we can do to generate some kind of revenue and get a runway together. And so effectively. I went from solopreneur that was barely scraping by to solo printer that had a couple of clients. Right. And things were progressing, you know, pretty rapidly going into year two and year three. And by end of year three, it was like, well, I have too much work now. I need to start hiring and delegating and figuring out how I’m going to make this puzzle fit. And that in itself was a big lesson. As a former mechanic credit, I’m very technically minded. More of a technician. Right. When you’re working on that car, just you in the car. Are you in the social media campaign? Are you in the SEO campaign? Right. And so there was almost this mindset shift. One of the first things I did was I hired a mentor who runs a $40 million company called Ship, offers you and some agencies in the past and just had that business acumen and experience to really help me navigate Shark Confess with water, so to speak. And from there, that morphed into let’s get you some support. Let’s start hiring. Let’s start building out your processes. And there’s a lot of friction there going from Solar Printer who’s making you’ve got enough clients. You’re making good money right now. It’s like we’re going to we’re actually going to reduce your salary now and hire a couple more people and just continue to scale the company as opposed to milking it. Right. Milking it for personal reasons and long story short. Now we have a team about nine or ten people focusing on project management, all the kind of core roles, like creative project managers, technical people, everything that we do, a lot of SEO website and content. So a lot of you need a small village depending on what you’re trying to accomplish in terms of design versus development versus having that right landing page or the right back links. So optimization, so on and so forth. So it was a it was really a journey. And it was one that, you know, didn’t look like what I thought would look like. Initially. I’m like, I should just stick be a sole printer. Right. Like, this is too hard. I’m not finding the right people. I’m hiring the wrong people. I’ve got processes that are 60% there instead of the 70 or 80 that someone needs in order to complete the job. Right. And I remember like, it was yesterday I went to was like, look, it’s it’s actually going to be harder right now. You’re actually going to have to work harder than you currently are, which seems next to impossible when you’re managing a lot of clients by yourself. Right? So that was kind of the first almost compared to like, having a kid, right? It’s like, alright, for a couple of months, I was just kind of unsure. I’m like, is this right for me? Should I really just focus and be a sole printer? Go, you know, not that finding a job was really on my radar, but would I be in a better position just focusing on one thing and being really good at that? And so what that turned into was a lot of voices in my head telling me like, hey, you’re not a good manager. You’re not a good leader, right? You’re not good at hiring like this negative kind of self talk and the payoff or the narrative. There was like, you’re better off on your own. I just do it on your own. Just do it on your own. Just do it on your own. So that was the first three years you kind of have to do it on your own right now. It’s like I don’t have to do it on my own, but it actually seems easier to do it on my own, despite the fact that I need more resources and I don’t have enough time to do the things that I want. I go out to dinner with friends or just have a normal life. And so there was this kind of like your conference on either shoulder, like, you need to hire some people. You need to start scaling these processes, and you need to start investing in your team. And that might mean moving a little bit slower in the short term to be able to have more runway to really ramp on scale. And so that was a hurdle for me. And one that was a blind spot. And I feel fortunate and lucky to have someone that could show me that and show me how to overcome that. Right. And really working through those kind of technician perfectionism tendencies and saying, hey, I’m okay with a 60% to 70% as long as it’s not me doing it right. We can take this together to 89, 100% over time. Right? Having that moment was kind of crucial to unlocking that next step and realizing the next level of revenue and the next level of service experience for the client. And it’s basically like being the wizard of Oz, right? They get to the end of the road. It’s one guy pulling all these levers and they’re like, this is what we traveled all this way to see is this one guy like, kind of putting on the show behind the curtain. And so I use that as motivation right now. You have these conversations with my mentoring, with myself, around what kind of leader I wanted to be and how I can feel less like an imposter and more like the leader that I know I’m capable of being and that we’ve kind of grown into. Right? Of course, there’s always another problem, always another lesson, always another experience to have. But truly, that was to this day, one of the biggest takeaways that I had in running a business was like, we’re so used to doing it on our own. And we’re used to, you know, maybe being disappointed by some of the questionable hires or people that you thought were a great fit, but just really, things went in a different direction, right? And overcoming that and saying, okay, it’s okay to make mistakes here. So it’s okay to fail. What’s not okay is to say, I’m alone. I need to do it all alone and stay in a position where the business can never scale. And I can never step away from business. That is the soup to nuts journey of starting, as, you know, a kid going into more of a young adult and now in this place for the last three or so years, we’ve managing this team and growing the team and really just focusing on creating a different lifestyle for myself has been really motivating. And in addition to that, seeing what’s happening with clients and their feedback, and I loved working with Poly or working with Ben on the team was just great. It’s like I’m getting feedback that that’s inherently better than whatever would have been just having me do it, right. Or having me on that meeting. And so that’s been a just call, a spade a spade. That was like a big hurdle for us. And that was a big hurdle for me. And one that we’re still working on. We’re still working on process. We’re still hiring people and trying to find ways to better scale the business, and that never really stops. But it’s really embracing the journey of that and being okay with the discomfort of trying something new and God forbid, succeeding at it, right? Like we always think about the downside, right? And so just kind of redefining that was was a huge milestone and one that I think a lot of business owners may relate to.
Jason Yormark: No, that’s awesome. When you think of your agency journey, when you think of one or two things, when you look back, that was like the biggest learning or something you would do differently or advice, you would give somebody that’s kind of just starting out that might have them avoid some of the pitfalls that you experience? What are some things that kind of come to mind?
David Finberg: Absolutely. I mean, the first one is hiring for culture, right? Hire for culture. They can learn the skills your processes, everything will help support them through that journey if they don’t have the right mission, if they’re not on mission, the culture isn’t right. You’re always going to have a disparity between where you think you need to be versus where you are, where that person thinks they need to be, versus where they are. And so mainly around hiring. That was the biggest one, right? Like fire fast, hire slow. Right. And so having more checks and balances during the hiring process of having someone that I really trust interview then that has corporate experience or has experience with interviews. People that tend to do really well here do really well on written. We do a lot of content. We have almost like this written 30 minutes written writing test. It’s a time test where they don’t know what the topic is, right? You’re just trying to get a feel for what someone’s day to day is going to be like and how they operate in a situation where maybe there isn’t a super clear cut and dry answer. Right. And so those are a couple of things, right. Two things hiring for culture, having checks and balances in place, so that your biases don’t there’s people that I was like, I really love this person on paper. They’re great. And then you get them into a writing test and they barely write anything, right. Or it’s just not enough structure for them to maybe they’re out of College, right. Maybe they’re more mature or just just seeing kind of where their mind frame is at. The third thing that we do is we started putting trial periods in place for new hires, right. So hey, you’re on nine day trial most of the time. It works out great. The times that doesn’t it really saves you from having to go through the headache of that whole process of letting go and trying to find someone new, maybe paying unemployment and going through this putting your head in a vice, right. We can grow together and we can do so in a way that’s scalable and still paint that picture and still have the opportunities for individuals. The main thing was really hiring for culture, not hiring for skills. Always. Right. Some people have great skills, but they’re not valuable. They’re not. They want to do things a certain way and that’s okay. Other times that can be a downside. When you kind of need a mix of both on your team. You need some people that can get in there and start tackling projects and hitting the ground running. You need some people that over the next six months, I really going to be your being a players, right. And start to kind of morph into more experienced, confident, confident role. And for those individuals, they’re all culture hires. But it’s like, hey, you don’t have SEO experience, but you know how to write. That’s great. We’ll teach you the SEO, right? The last kind of pitfall that I would have is raises expectations and reviews. Right. So having more really frequent reviews with your employees, like 1st 30 days, you should have review it every month after you should have review until you hit a place where you’re kind of in that cadence, and you feel like they’re getting the feedback that they need without going to too granular on the meeting schedule. But really making sure that one thing that I found that I was doing is I was just throwing money at people. Right? I’m like, great. You want to do this? You want to be our PM or content manager, whoever. Right. Like, here’s a raise. And let’s see what you can do. Now I take a step back and say, let’s see what you can do. And then let’s start rewarding you for the value that you’re adding to the clients. Right. And so it’s really shifted away from, like, what? Of course, everyone wants to know what their trajectory is in one room to grow on the other end, really making it focused around the client. Like, the more value it’s on my team is every week. It’s like, the more value we’re creating for the client, the more value you’re going to receive from peaks, right? The longer clients will stay, the more wins we’re going to have, the better the experience for the client really is tying that to the performance angle. And the review process of, like, are we adding more value? How are things progressing work if you’re running peaks tomorrow, what would you do? Like, really giving people a long rope. And some people will hang themselves with that rope. And some people really step up and take things to the next level. And so that can help you with your scaling, too. And you really get those right people that want to help. The reality is 99% of people want to help. And sometimes people just don’t know how or they don’t have the vision to be able to the skill set to be able to help. Those are the big ones. It’s like hiring for culture, making sure that we’re not literally not just incentivizing people with cash. We should be incentivizing people with a vision of what that looks like for the client and providing that feedback throughout the journey of this person just stepped into your business. What kind of experience are we creating for them? Right. And of the interviews I have say, When’s your last feedback, they’re like, oh, it was like a year ago, right? It’s like, wow, for a whole year, you don’t even know, you know how you’re doing and what kind of benchmarks you can have in place and how you can help take things to the next level. And so really having that roadmap and not over promising, not just throwing money out of situation or hoping that this is going to work. It’s really taking more granular steps and supporting people throughout that journey. That’s shifted a lot of the hires that we make and a lot of the elimination of turnover, right? In terms of either hiring the wrong person or finding someone that maybe it wasn’t a great fit for them because it’s a start up or whatever it may be, right. He hires, hires, right. You’ll spend double the time if you make a mistake and you’re supposed to probably make a few mistakes in that area to really learn on the other end. There’s a lot you can do on the front end, like trials like having really clear expectations, having a great review process that not only will help your business stand out and create a great experience for them, it will also put you in a position where you’re still on our and you still have the trajectory to motivate without just in putting all your eggs on basket or giving away the farm rates.
Jason Yormark: Yeah, that’s cool. So you talked a lot about culture, you guys a virtual agency or physical location?
David Finberg: We’re a physical location. We do have a few individuals, research developers in the UK. There’s a few other contractors that we work with that have been long time relationships that aren’t in Colorado. But we’ve seen that’s a huge point as having everyone in office, it really made quite a difference. The bandwidth just opens up quite a bit, right.
Jason Yormark: Sure.
David Finberg: There’s just more connection between individuals. That said, you know, in today’s environment, it’s scalable to do it remotely and just have a lot of those meetings be remote and Zoom. But I’d say if you can have people come in, it’s been a game changer in the sense of one knowing what’s going on and two being able to support people in real time and three having the community around individuals so that the team is coming together around things as opposed to just, hey, I need to ask my boss, because I don’t know the answer to this, right? It’s like three other people in the office probably already know it. Right. So that’s been one that actually astern eyebrows. Are you opposed to working in an office like, do you like working with people? You’re more of a lone Wolf. It’s okay if you’re a lone Wolf, but just know the expectation is office and that’s something that can change, but certainly something that has added a lot of value to the account.
Jason Yormark: Got you. One question I always like to ask folks before we wrap things up is what’s a book, a piece of technology, a gadget, something that you’ll be getting a lot of use of lately or just something that stands out that’s been really helpful or insightful to you to share with the audience.
David Finberg: Absolutely. I would say check out the CEO’s mindset by Vinny Fisher, good mentor of mine friend. Just really, he built 100 million dollar company and ran into the ground and is now building on his way to building another one. So from the ground floor, just building it up and taking you to your first million than from one to 10 and 10 to 100 that’s I think a fantastic read for people that are looking for some different perspective and insights tool wise. We use STM rushes here. It’s pretty standard in this industry, but one tool that I know is becoming increasingly more important for people is Google Page Speed Insights. Measuring the page speed of your site can not only help you with your SEO and getting you more traffic can help you across all of your channels. Whether that’s social, whether that’s email, whether that’s you know, none of the above or all the above, right? Doesn’t matter what channel they’re coming in. Sites that are faster convert higher. So everyone always thinks, hey, let’s just add more leads to the top of the funnel. Right? One thing that I kind of taught me again back to the CEO’s mindset was like, we don’t always just have to add more leads to the top of the funnel. So one thing we’ve seen here at Peaks and the team works intimately with Google Page Speed Insights to see what those page speed scores are and how your developer can help improve the Loading speed and the Loading order of the site to squeeze a little bit more juice out of that fruit. Right. And get the maximum amount of conversions possible. So it’s a nice, low hanging fruit or opportunity that you can use to identify some gaps in your page speed. And by improving that, you can actually have a profound effects across social AdWords paid, organic, direct email. There’s a game we have across the board, so I would totally check out the Google Page Speed Insights. Another tool that I really like is Readable iOS. If you’re writing content, you’re creating content. Readable IOs is a great tool that will help just give you more insights or give your team more insights into the copy that they’re writing. What the tone is how to make sentences, improve sentences and improve some of the copy experience. Sadly, people read in seven to eight grade level so it actually can help you kind of simplify and refine. Brevity is wit of the soul, right? So you want to try to have things short readable and it could be long form content. You just don’t want to be a shorter to read, and so readable. Io is a great, fantastic tool everyone here uses to just help take their content to the next level.
Jason Yormark: I love that awesome. Well, thank you so much for some pretty deep insight. That’s awesome to kind of hear from an agency owner and kind of what they went through. What? Where can people find you to learn more about you or what you do?
David Finberg: Certainly. So check me out on social media. It’s David Feinberg on Instagram and Facebook. If you’re looking for some SEO tips and insights, check out our website Peaks. Digital marketing. Com peaks, like the Mountain Top Digital Marketing. Com /podcast. We actually have a blog and landing Page Optimization guide will just help plan your content to help you get the right SEO icing on your cake when you’re syndicating that new landing page. Blog and
Jason Yormark: awesome well, thanks again, so much for being on the show. We’ll make sure to put all those in the show notes. But you know, thanks for carving out some time to share a little bit about your story and time to go.
David Finberg: My pleasure.
Jason Yormark: Awesome. That will do it for this week’s episode of Socialistics. Make sure you like subscribe, share all that good stuff and we will catch you next episode. All right.
Jason is a 20+ year marketing veteran including time spent at Microsoft overseeing social media for Microsoft Advertising & Office for Mac. Once named to Forbes Power Social Media Influencers List, Jason is the owner and founder of Socialistics.