Building and Re-building an Agency: iPullRank’s 8th Anniversary

When Mike King founded iPullRank in 2014, it wasn’t his first – or second – rodeo. This self-described “developer turned indie rapper turned results-driven marketer” got started with a Howard computer science degree and moved onto a global tour of the hip-hop circuit before diving into the world of digital marketing.

For Mike, entrepreneurship isn’t about having ideas. Everyone has ideas. What matters is what you do with them.

“Entrepreneurship,” says Mike, “is taking the leap required to actually bring that idea to life. It’s being on the floor with the team and recognizing that everything else is just practice.”

And bring it to life he did. Last month, our all-remote team flew in from around the country for iPullRank’s 8th anniversary celebration in New York. Every team member was on the floor together to share ideas, support each other, and take iPR to the next level.

Here’s how it went.

iPULLRANK LEVELS UP

Leveling up your company takes smart people, good ideas, and a whole lot of work. That’s no problem when you’ve already got all three.

Our entire team showed up in New York ready to roll. Every single member had been preparing ideas for how to make iPullRank better on every level. 

The result was two long, productive days sharing ideas, developing them into real plans, and brainstorming solutions to problems too big for one person to solve.

As one of the most technical and data-oriented SEO agencies out there, iPullRank specializes in the parts of digital marketing that everyone else seems allergic to. 

We’ll spare you the nitty-gritty – that’s our department – but here are just a few of the ideas we developed.

Automating Everything…or at Least 75% of It

“Automation is good, so long as you know exactly where to put the machine.” – Eliyahu Goldratt

As technical people, we love automation – when it works, it makes everything more efficient. But as practical people, we also know that it doesn’t work for everything. 

Some tasks just go better in human hands. The trick is figuring out which. That’s why we spent some time thinking about which of our projects could benefit from some robotic assistance.

The answer wasn’t “all of them,” of course, but we were able to make a surprising number of our tasks dramatically easier – and not all of them were technical or data-driven. For example, importing data automatically in our Competitive Analysis deliverable cut nearly six hours of repetitive labor – time which we now use to conduct more advanced analyses. 

Want a Trial?

We’re happy to tell you about the quality of our work, but we prefer to show you. That’s why  iPR offers a “trial package”: a low-risk way for potential clients to build a relationship with us and see if what we do is right for them. It’s a great opportunity to build trust by showing new clients how we’ve earned our reputation for exceptional work.

However, the heart of our approach is rigorous research and analysis, which takes more time than a short trial period offers. To resolve this problem, we examined the common factors between our most successful client relationships.

We realized that many of our best relationships with clients grew out of a shared desire to evolve together. To foster this kind of growth, we adjusted our approach to trial periods to foster this kind of relationship.

Fixing Rank Tracking

Rank tracking is broken. There are just too many factors that traditional rank tracking tools don’t consider to get anything close to reliable data about user behavior. Mike and John Murch, our Director of Software Engineering, tackled the subject in a Rank Tracking Webinar back in February.

To help un-break it, we’re releasing our own brand-new rank tracking tool. To learn more, become a beta tester here.

A Technical Approach to Content

We’re not shy about having a technical approach to content strategy, but we aren’t only technical. Our creative department works with clients to improve their websites by planning, building, and improving their content. 

Remember, though – we’re a technical bunch, even on the content side. By combining creative and technical approaches, our content team recommends deeper and broader improvements to client websites than would be possible otherwise. 

In New York, they presented a method to tag, track, and sort common problems across a website. Through statistical analysis, this method allowed them to identify sitewide problems that aren’t visible on any single page.

We’re Hearing You

Clear communication is crucial for every agency. If you can’t understand what your clients need, you’re not going to be able to help them. We’re pretty good at what we do, but better teams than ours have been brought down by simple miscommunications. That’s why we work constantly to make sure everyone is on the same page.

To make that a little easier, we’ve developed a more structured approach to understanding our clients. Not only do we consider the needs and goals of their business as a whole, we also keep track of our relationship with every single member of their team. 

Connecting with each person on the client’s team lets us cultivate a strong relationship with them. That, in turn, gives us the ability to help the client far more effectively than we could otherwise.

Check out what the workshops looked like (the meat and potatoes of the meetup) on Day 2.

First, Know Yourself

Understanding what others want from you only helps if you know your own abilities. You won’t have any idea what you can realistically offer without knowing your own strengths, weaknesses, and resources.

That’s why we think knowing our own team is almost as important as knowing the client’s. Everyone needs to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses so they can ask for help and offer support as needed. 

That kind of smooth collaboration doesn’t just happen. It takes work to build it, and steady maintenance to hold on. That’s why iPullRank hosts regular workstyle forums like the one we ran in New York.

During the workstyle forum, we started off by getting people to share stories, interests, hobbies, or anything else that makes them unique. We followed that up with a walkthrough of a scientific personality quiz we each took, which gave us an overview of where each teammate’s talents and instincts lie.

Finally, we addressed things head-on by talking about ourselves in a series of short videos. We encouraged everyone to be proud of their strengths, honest about their weaknesses, and enthusiastic about their interests. 

They didn’t disappoint. See for yourself.

Aiming for the Next Level

To wrap up, we opened the floor to share thoughts on the direction of iPullRank. Every single member of iPR shared their thoughts about what we did well, what we could do better, and what we should try in the future. 

We then voted on the best, most interesting, and most ambitious ideas of the bunch. Those winning ideas became part of a cohesive plan to make iPullRank even better over the next six months. 

Stay tuned, because that plan’s already in motion. 

All Work and Some Play

“Work hard, play hard” might be a cliche, but the iPR team owned it that week. After each day of hard thinking and planning, we’d take a quick pit stop in our rooms at the W Hotel Times Square…then head right back out for a night on the town.

Tuesday night, we started out relaxing over drinks at our hotel’s swanky DJ lounge, The Living Room. We headed over to Del Frisco’s for an incredible classic steak dinner. 

Wednesday night, we headed a little farther out for cocktails and mixology lessons at the Raines Law Room. We mingled for a while before heading downtown to the dramatic dining room at Buddakan.

Thursday was our last day in New York. After our final wrap-up meeting, we wished a very happy birthday to Mike, our Content Strategist Kyle, and iPR itself. After some warm, reluctant goodbyes, we each began the long trek back to our respective homes.

Wrapping-Up

After two years of all-remote work, our 8th anniversary was the first time many of our team members had ever met in person. We’re all for remote work, but when you’re building a relationship, there’s nothing like meeting face-to-face.

It was an incredible opportunity for the iPullRank team to meet, connect, build chemistry, and develop ideas. We’re PROUD to say that not a single member of our team let it slip.

Want to work with Mike and the iPullRank team? Send us a message so we can start a conversation.

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