Clifford Almeida runs HIREAWIZ Web Design, a full-service digital marketing agency. Clifford also runs MyWebAudit.com, a SaaS tool for web professionals and digital marketers. You can find Clifford on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Tell us about yourself. Who are you? Where are you based?
I’m a father of two beautiful girls and a husband to an amazing woman. I love to travel. I’m passionate about changing lives through service and technology. Growing companies is what I love doing.
We’re based in Glendale, Arizona. Before Glendale, I lived in Laveen, just outside of the Phoenix area. As I looked to grow my business, I wanted to move to the center of where everything was.
Along the way, we’ve had the benefits and convenience of being closer to the city.
We focused on targeting the Phoenix area to attract new leads for the agency. We doubled down on it, spending a lot of time and effort. It paid off. SEO is still one of our biggest lead sources. It’s been great to see the time and effort made over the years continue to pay off.
What’s the elevator pitch for your business? Describe what you do.
We don’t just build static websites with some copy. We offer web and digital marketing services, focused on growing companies, and delivering ROI.
People come to us with a common problem. Usually, that’s something like “we want more leads” or “we want more revenue.”
We take them through a discovery process, asking the right questions, to figure out what they need. Do they need a new website? SEO? Conversion rate optimization?
Over the last two years we’ve repositioned ourselves to not sell specific services, but to emphasize the outcomes: growth, revenue, et cetera.
From there, we rely on content marketing, SEO, and PPC to drive traffic to our clients’ sites. Within our agency, we combine those to find the right mix for our clients based on their needs.
The client doesn’t need to worry about how much we’re doing in one or the other. In our clients’ eyes, they’re spending a certain amount with us each month, and they expect a certain ROI on their investment in our services.
We adjust the efforts and ad spend based on which channels offer the best results.
At the end of the day, our clients know that we are here to help them grow.
We had one client who said they didn’t want to do a website redesign, and they didn’t want to do SEO. They didn’t believe in it.
So we did a website audit of their existing site and a video teardown of their existing site, calling out things that should’ve been changed. Here’s a list of sample audit templates we use in our agency.
Within a couple of weeks, they closed on a large project and retainer. The difference was that we educated them on what mattered.
When we talked to them about the results, the challenges, and opportunities, we were approaching it in a way that nobody else had.
We also kept them grounded with realistic expectations. The client appreciated that and saw the value in that.
New leads came to them almost immediately. All we did was build a website that reflected their business. Now they’re more than happy to pay for that and to pay for the ongoing work. It’s not an expense. It’s an investment.
What inspired you to start your business? How did you get started?
I worked in government and ran a lot of technology programs before starting my own agency.
Unfortunately, governments are usually 5+ years behind the times, so I couldn’t use the latest and greatest tech.
I was already helping clients on the side, but it was hard to do that and have a full-time job at the same time. I had to make a decision.
I chose to lean into my side hustle. It let me work at the pace of technology that I wanted.
I loved the impact that I made through the government. But I also realized that I could make a big impact through my own work, while also having the freedom to build the business of my dreams.
Like everything that is worth something, it’s taken a lot of time and effort. If I had to make the choice a hundred times again, I’d still make the same decision.
Who’s your ideal client?
Companies that have at least 3-5M in revenue and can use online strategies to grow their business. They are usually big enough to have a sales team, but not an in-house web developer or digital marketer.
I’ve been running my agency for well over a decade. About five years ago, after joining a coaching program, I started thinking about charging on value. The biggest difference is that you have to position your services in front of companies that can actually afford you.
A small local business would see great results based on a relatively small investment. But it’ll still cost too much for them. So now we position ourselves to potential clients who can afford us — the ones who have a marketing budget to pull from.
Those are the ones we can talk to. We can show real results we’ve delivered for other clients in the past. We have enough trust now that it’s a no-brainer for the most part.
The biggest struggle for smaller agencies is that they’re hungry to work with anyone that will pay them. There’s a mindset shift, of going after fewer clients who will pay them more. It’s really important to understand early on.
It took me five years to realize that. The thought process early on was, “why would someone with a big budget want to work with me?” The reality is, many large companies are just looking for someone who will deliver results.
I had results, but I didn’t think about the results. I thought about logos. But after changing my mindset and selling my results, I could charge a lot more. We can stand by those results because we have the evidence to back it up.
We’ve helped local businesses realize a huge ROI. Understanding how to quantify that is really important. That’s the pivotal difference between a $5,000 project and a $25,000 project.
Here is an example of an ROI report we use with our prospects and clients:
What kind of projects do you like working on?
Website redesigns that have tremendous opportunities around SEO and conversion rate optimization.
We love building website projects for companies that can leverage what we build to grow their business online. Most of our clients are seven-figure companies that have a great business but haven’t leveraged their web presence. If we can come in to help them make leaps and bounds forward.
For example, we may be hired to help a large construction company. They already make tens of millions. We come in to help them tell their story online to help them with brand awareness and recruitment initiatives.
Or another common scenario is working with successful brick-and-mortar businesses that don’t have an effective website. So we can come in to understand their business, ideal customer, products, and then build a website that is a great sales and marketing resource. That usually leads to 2-3x growth.
I love working on those sales & marketing websites. We’d rather take on projects that result in improved conversions over custom development work due to the risk and complexity.
What kind of projects do you not like working on?
Complex web applications. They say that solving expensive problems is good for business. Yes, we can charge more, but there’s a lot of risk that comes with it.
We can address some of that through a robust discovery phase, but there are long-term support challenges and other considerations.
We’re comfortable saying no to these projects because we have a great, profitable system working on the sales and marketing sites.
Of course, there are exceptions, like projects with clients who are a great fit and willing to make the investment.
You need to weigh the stress and investment on your side, on your team’s side, just as much as you weigh the client factors. You need to understand your core skills and strengths and decide accordingly without letting the appeal of a large project budget influence the decision.
Big numbers look great at first, but after the work starts, I’ve often asked myself, is the complexity and stress worth the money? In our experience most times it isn’t. This is a lesson often learned the hard way in the agency journey.
What are the most common problems you help your clients with?
Building a successful website and online presence that delivers on their goals: online visibility, more leads, building authority.
Gaining visibility online. That’s how we talk about SEO. Then there’s gaining more leads — how do you turn those visitors into potential business? That’s primarily what we deal with.
We also do custom development for startups and business automation. For example, for clients who are manually tracking information from an intake form, into Excel, then into a report, we’ll build an application that handles all of that — saving them thousands of hours per year.
Walk us through your project process from start to finish.
We start with the discovery phase. It’s effective planning up front. Then we move through development, deployment, and delivering ongoing ROI.
What advice do you have for folks who are trying to take their business online?
There are no silver bullets or hacks when you are looking to grow online. You have to invest time or money.
If you have money, invest it with a company that has a proven track record. Have them build you a website that is a great sales and marketing resource and go from there.
What advice do you have for folks who are thinking about starting their own business?
Pick an industry, solve an expensive problem, build trust through reviews and case studies, and leverage it to grow.
If you decide to start an agency: find a community, learn from others, implement processes that enable consistency and efficiency, and then hire as soon as you can for the work you shouldn’t be doing, or for work others can do better, so you can scale up.
Anything else you’d like to share or promote?
I am also the Founder of MyWebAudit.com, a SaaS that helps web professionals and digital marketers generate and close more deals using actionable website audits. If you run a web design or SEO business, sign up for a free trial.