Digital marketing has taken the online scene by storm, and Mike Johnson was there to see it happen. With many years of working in corporate America, he has witnessed a new turn for online marketing that redefined brand promotions in a completely different level.

Many other companies have emerged with the evolution of digital marketing, but Mike Johnson isn’t one to give up without a fight. Putting together a team of creative online marketing experts, he was able to bring a compelling marketing scheme for a professional corporate web design. Now that he has become the Vice President of Sales for Social Juice Media, he continuously works with his team to create authentic and innovative concepts to maximize client goals and satisfaction. In this interview, Mike talks about his experience with digital marketing, ways his company copes with the changing aspects of the industry, and steps they’ve taken to be a leader in the digital marketing scene.

How did you get started on this business?

Quite honestly, I stumbled into it. About 9 years ago, I owned a successful restaurant business and I decided to start raising a family. Even though I was in a successful business, I didn’t really want to have that lifestyle with a family. So, I spent a couple of months researching what’s going on out there. I ended up getting a job at Fortune Five company, one of the largest ones in the world. I became a part of digital sales, and worked with the company for about four years.

What made you decide to be a part of digital marketing?

I learned a lot of great things about the business. I’ve also realized the business is only going to keep growing as the Internet is. So, I decided to leave corporate America and start my own venture. A lot of what I saw in corporate America was good, but I also saw a lot of room for improvement. I also got that old entrepreneurial edge back to move on and start my own venture again.

What aspect of the business, or digital marketing as a whole, interests you the most?

Right now, it’d be SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Pay Per Click is great, fairly simple, black and white. You put an ad up there, cost some amount of dollars, and you hope for a nice return on investment. SEO is a lot more in-depth; there’s a lot more to it. Getting your website to grow and rank organically for the long haul instead of always traded dollars for clicks. I really enjoy that aspect of it, and I certainly enjoy seeing my clients grow in the organic market place as well. Don’t get me wrong PPC is a great tool as well but it needs to be used for specific reasons.

So, how do you keep up with the constant changes in Internet marketing?

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It’s tough, but I rely on a lot of good resources. I follow some of the big players out there, I check their blogs, Google+ pages, and other stuff like that. I’ve also made a few acquaintances with industry leaders that we (managed) to speak once or twice a week. It (digital marketing) is constantly evolving, and you have to be ahead of it. You can’t play catch up with this industry. If you’re trying to catch up, you’re out.

Speaking of staying ahead of it, where do you see the Internet marketing industry going in the future?

I really think it’s going to be a lot more video-based, content-driven based. Gone are the days of just buying back links and trying to get those backlinks to improve your (client’s) page. You really need to think it out and have a holistic approach on your marketing in general. What is your marketing plan? Are you branding? Are you selling a specific product or service? If so, let’s come up with different strategies for each. There’s a lot more involved than there was five or six years ago. You could just put an ad up there and hopefully get some nice clients. A few years back another of the big thing was clicks, everyone talks about them, like how many clicks am I getting? Now, it’s not quite the same: What type of clicks are we getting? Where’s it coming from? What are they doing? How long are they staying on your site? Are my clicks converting to sales? You really need to be hands-on much more. Your website is an evolving process, just like Internet marketing is an evolving process.

You certainly got a good handle on this industry. Any notable experiences or success stories that reinforce your interest in this niche?

As the typical salesperson and entrepreneur, I went out and told pretty much anybody that wanted to hear my story and why they need me. Now, over the last few years, I’ve found my niche in the automobile industry, the law industry — those websites and industries are very competitive. So, as we say in my industry a lot, these are not the low hanging fruit. These are hard, huffed, convertible keywords that once I proved I could deliver and maintain convertible rankings in these industry’s I knew I was on to something big. Anybody with any knowledge at all can rank on a keyword in the middle of Kansas, ’cause the competition is two hours away. I’m in the tri-state area and my competitor has, literally, 20 car dealerships within 20 miles. All fighting for that same word like new Honda Accord. I currently rank number 1 on all makes and models in the tri-state area for Honda, (both) new and used. I could go on all day long with success stories, but the auto industry is where I hang my hat these.

What sets your business apart from everybody else?

That comes into play with why I left corporate America. I don’t do long-term contracts. Corporate America is going to lock you to a long-term contract because they have shareholders to impress, and there’s really no value, unfortunately, without a contract. However, my business model does not lock us in, but there’s a mutual respect and agreement upfront—that we’re in this for a little bit in the long haul. Nothing is going to happen overnight, and if you did want out of a contract, no problem. Just put it in writing and you’re gone.

The contracts are my main thing. Second, is my customizable program. I have no idea what you need as the client, I can’t come in there and start selling products until I really dig and find out your needs. So, I take the business development approach and combine it with the no-contract approach to give a truly customizable experience to all my clients.

What can your clients expect from you in the next few months or next year?

Well, great service. Graphs in there, graphics that have content in them, and better calls for action. I’m always giving my clients new ideas on how to change their websites. I really love virtual heat mapping, not that it’s brand new, but the clients are starting to buy into it now. And that’s where you get to see where people are going into your website or what’s going on with your website. Just putting a phone number at the top of the page could double your conversions, but we don’t know that until we try it.

What aspects of your business would you want to improve and why?

I’ve always wanted to streamline the sales process. I love the whole sales cycle; it’s definitely about getting a rush when hunting a prospect, meeting that prospect, then closing them. But, I don’t close that deal and walk away. It’s a lifetime relationship for the length of that account, and we speak on a regular basis. With that being said, it’s about helping today’s client to buy in for the bigger picture of what’s happening out there with social media and search engine optimization. They’ve been forced fed with thread media or radio or television for so long. And now they getting involved in the Internet, and the first thing they hear is Pay Per Click. It’s a great tool and business model, but at the end of the day, it’s just a piece of the pie. So, I would like to get all my clients to buy into the whole holistic approach. And I truly don’t say that for my pocket reasons and not just because I’m trying to increase their bill. I’m trying to be the general contractor of their digital footprint, instead of having ten subs in there doing ten different things at the same time.

Describe your company in one word.

Honest.

If we’re going to do a movie about Social Juice Media, which actor do you think would portray you best?

Are we talking about looks or personality? That’s a tough one, you’re going to box me into a corner here. I don’t want to say it, but I’m going to say it because it’s sales 101. Alec Baldwin from Glengarry Glen Ross.