1. Let’s start with your short Introduction - your childhood, academic background, hobbies etc.
I grew up in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Being a single parent, my mother did pretty much everything she could to give me the best of education. While I wasn’t great at it, I wasn’t bad either. I did my SSC in Udayan and then attended Dhaka College.
My SSC was great but I took a hit during the Dhaka college life and eventually lost the ‘golden GPA’ in Physics and that’s where my family’s dream of making me an engineer ended.
I then moved to North South University, did my graduation there on marketing and followed on the marketing journey to do my MSc in Digital Marketing from Trinity College Dublin. Now, Life has been good so far.
2. Did you always have a passion for Digital marketing and what made it so interesting that you did your Masters in Digital Marketing?
I actually didn’t even know that there’s something called ‘Digital Marketing’ back in 2013. The plan was to do small businesses while I am studying, finish the study and join the corporate life. But then, something funny happened.
I was always hustling as a freelancer - I was writing content, doing bits here and there and that’s how I came to know about the world of SEO (search engine optimization) which is a sub-segment of digital marketing.
I fell in love with it and I was also good at it - so I kept on digging deep, building websites and eventually created a whole company out of that one skill.
That whole process made me fall in love with Digital Marketing even more and when the time came to choose an MSc topic, I had no hesitation to choose Digital Marketing even though it was considered a big risk. I wouldn’t do anything else, nor did I wanted to.
3. What helped you to learn Digital Marketing so well? Do you think that your education background helped you create a strong foundation?
I was always a good learner and I liked ‘earning money’ - not because I needed it but because I liked the game. Business and entrepreneurship attracted me and still does. I will still go out of my way to start small businesses to make a profit. I know I can make more money if I bring in another client to my agency or do a consultation but I like those small battles.
My education background actually helped me to learn everything there was to learn about digital marketing - and I kept going. The good thing was that I wasn’t only learning, I was also implementing everything - some were succeeding, other projects were failing terribly but hey, I was always learning - so it’s a win!
4. What does digital marketing mean to you and why do you think this is so essential for marketing right now?
Simply put, Digital marketing is the way of attracting a customer to you using digital channels - more commonly referred to as social media, Google or display advertising. To me, digital marketing is nothing but a way of getting clients to your business, getting more sales, more leads, more phone calls - whatever the KPI is for your business.
Why is it essential?
Well, look around. Where do you think people’s attention is at right now? We live in an attention economy. Showing a 30 second television commercial made sense at one point because people were giving attention to the TV. They are not anymore. The whole world has moved digital which made digital marketing more important than it was ever before. The only logical way to get to a client is digitally these days.
5. How did the journey of KhalidFarhan.com start and with what motive you have started your blogging?
Ah, this is a funny one. We used to have Passive Journal as our website back in the days. I later decided that we will focus more on personal branding than branding a business name. It is easier, it has some weird benefits (like people would want to collaborate with you when it’s a person) and people buy from people at the end of the day. Combining all - we decided to do the shift and move to KhalidFarhan.com
I would consider this as one of my best business decisions in the last 3 years. I then kept producing content on all formats (in both Bangla and English) and this has immensely improved our client retention and generation ratio.
6. As an SEO provider, how did you decide on the service model and what are the components you focus on?
I was better at SEO than other marketing activities so when it came to launching our agency, the decision was simple. We were going to launch an ‘SEO agency’ - and that’s what we did.
Our service still varies wildly/widely and we haven’t actually decided on a model yet. Sometimes, we offer our clients free websites if they sign up for SEO, sometimes we say we will take 10% of every sale and sometimes it is just a plain 2000 euro/month deal. Every deal is different in the SEO world which is one of the beauties about it. You have to learn to read the client and the business to know which strategy will work in that particular situation. It is exciting stuff.
7. How essential is SEO in creating a website?
SEO is the process of ranking a website on the top of Google so people can actually find you when they are searching for information. So in a way, SEO is not that essential when you are building the site - it starts once you are done building the website. However, if you have SEO at the back of your head when you are going for the design, the world is much easier on the other side.
8. Tell us about SPP and how you started working on it? What are the things you like most about SPP?
We actually randomly found them on Google while we were thinking about moving to a CRM solution. SPP is not a CRM but it is not a basic payment tool either. It is a mix. We were initially doing a month by month subscription but later on, Chris (who owns SPP) and I became good friends. I wrote for them, we did some consultancy for them - and we are kind of like buddies now. I get a good rate and I always pay for the year. It has been a good working relationship.
I like the fact that SPP is cheap, user friendly and the founder actually values your time.
9. How does an outreach process assist in targeting audiences? How do you help your customers by using this process?
We used to do a lot of outreach at the beginning. Fortunately, we don’t have to do it anymore as we have built a name for ourselves. Outreach is good fun though. I would break it down in two steps.
Step 1: Build something worth sharing. If you are a graphic designer and if you are planning to send emails to get graphic design work, the first task is to build a solid portfolio of work. I wouldn’t send 1 email before I have at least 200 projects visible on my website.
Step 2: Now you have something worth sharing. Feel free to start sending emails. Don’t think you are entitled to something. People will still say no because graphic designers are cheap and we can find them everywhere, like most skills. That’s why you need to be a bit more creative.
How about when you are sending that email, tell the potential client that you changed their logo and you want to get their feedback?
You just improved your chances of getting a reply by at least 50%.
Outreach is a form of marketing. You have to be creative to stay ahead of the competition.
10. Can you tell us about your business strategies and what helps you to keep it growing?
I actually have never managed to grow my business exponentially. The first time I hit 6 figures in USD was in 2018 and I am still at 6 figures now. I don’t think I will be able to hit 7 figures before 2023-2024, so it is a slow process which many don’t understand.
What I found out over the last 5 years is that, you shouldn’t save micro pennies losing the focus of the grand plan. I will give you an example. I can spend 1 hour every day doing my emails. I know how to reply to emails, I have done it before and I am good at it. If I am doing it, I will also be able to save that $400 USD that I would have paid to an assistant.
Is it worth it though?
The salary of that assistant is $4800 in a year.
If I can save 1 hour every day - I am saving 365 hours in a year which would be 15 extra days. One can do wonder in 15 days. Now multiply that by 3 (hire 3 people to do some stuff instead of just one assistant).
You just saved 1.5 months of your year that you can now spend on businesses, goals, long term visions and strategies.
11. Tell us about your clients and the major queries you receive from them?
Our clients vary widely, both from the geographical locations and also on the types of clients we deal with. We have clients who are managing a small plumbing business and we also have clients who have one of the biggest television apps in the world. Everyone’s questions are different but at the end of the day, they all want more visibility. Every business in the world wants more eyeballs, more leads, more phone calls and more sales. As a marketing agency, your job is to plan and execute how that will happen. If you can, you will always be fine.
12. Name some of the online marketing tools that you use frequently which others can use regardless of their business type.
I love Evernote. I use it every day for everything. G-suite is another that we couldn’t live without. Aweber is what we use for our newsletters. No matter what your business is, these three tools will come handy.
13. How would you recommend newcomers to start building their personal brand?
The biggest benefit of a personal brand is that once you build it, you can sell anything. You are not limited to one product or even one business. The biggest risk of building a personal brand is that you won’t be able to sell that business as it’s literally your name. You have to do a risk-reward analysis to see if this is right for you. Also, you have to ask yourself if you really want to be in front of a podcast mic or a camera every week.
I would recommend it, as long as you are not forcing it. Focusing on personal brand has helped us grow at least 4X faster than we would have with a generic brand name.