On this week’s episode we have Wendell Jordan, owner of Jordan Marketing Consultants – an SEO agency with a focus on local search engine optimization based out of Houston, Texas. Wendell and the agency have a soft spot for businesses located throughout the country that serve as a focal point in their respective regions. The plumber, electrician, the roofer, who only go to a certain part of town. Wendell considers himself and his team to be the agency that helps you remove that hour and a half commute per job.
Wendell may not have anticipated being an agency owner, but his hunger for success has always been evident. As a teenager, he and his friends believed they would become professional basketball players. However, as they reached 18 or 19 years old, that dream began to fade. Instead, Wendell found himself drawn to music. He became a music manager, which would be his first experience with selling and promoting. Wendell moved on to being a door-to-door salesman for what was then called Verizon on the East coast, and then what would be known as Time Warner Cable.
While Wendell was involved in the music industry, he created a website and says he hated the all-consuming process. However, he decided to push past his initial ill feelings and focused on learning as much as he could. As fate would have it, Wendell was let go from his job at Time Warner Cable, but a new opportunity arose when a childhood friend approached him. The friend offered to build websites and wanted to know if Wendell would sell them.
Although his initial answer would be no and the partnership would eventually have to go their separate ways, Wendell stands here today the owner of an incredible agency. While in the beginning the agency offered everything from logos, to websites, to some social media management, over the last 5 years Wendell and the agency have found their roots in SEO and rebranded the agency to convey their focused strength and haven’t looked back since.
Wendell admits to grappling with the decision to narrow down his niche. Coming from an entrepreneurial background, he initially hesitated to specialize in a single service like SEO, as he believed offering a full range of services would guarantee no money was being left on the table. However, despite his concerns, the agency has experienced significant growth which he credits to the decision to narrow his focus.
From music to marketing and a whole lot in between, Wendell takes us on his personal journey as an agency owner finding their roots, succeeding, and collaborating with others along the way.
Enjoy the story.
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Welcome to An Agency Story podcast where we share real stories of marketing agency owners from around the world. From the excitement of starting up the first big sale, passion, doubt, fear, freedom, and the emotional rollercoaster of growth, hear it all on An Agency Story podcast. An Agency Story podcast is hosted by Russel Dubree, successful agency owner with an eight figure exit turned business coach. Enjoy the next agency story.
Welcome to An Agency Story podcast. I’m your host Russel. On this week’s episode, we have Wendell Jordan, owner of Jordan marketing consultants. An up and coming SEO agency with a focus on local search engine optimization based out of Houston, Texas. From NBA dreams to finding himself as an out of work salesman. Wendell never anticipated finding himself as an agency owner. Music, marketing, and a whole lot in between, Wendell takes us on his personal journey of finding his roots and collaborating with others along the way. Enjoy the story. Welcome to the show everyone. Today I have Wendell Jordan with Jordan Marketing Consultants. Thanks for being on the show today, Jordan.
Yes, sir. It is my pleasure.
Called you Jordan.
People say Jordan all the time, especially because Jordan Marketing Consultants. It works because my grandfather and my dad were blue collar workers, so they were called by their last name at work. I’m keeping the tradition alive, man.
There you go. I always end up gravitating towards someone else’s nickname or last name.
I dig it.
A sign of friendship. Start us off with a quick overview. What does Jordan Marketing Consultants do and who do you do it for?
We are an SEO agency with a focus in local search engine optimization. SEO being search engine optimization. Our favorite clients are the businesses all over the country that serve as a specific location in their region. It’s the plumber who is only going to a certain part of town. The electrician the HVAC, the roofer. We’re in Houston, it’s really broken down in the quadrants here in Houston. I always explain to those that I talk to here in the city, you don’t wanna travel from one side of town to the other for one job, right? We’re the agency that helps you remove that hour and a half commute per job.
The commuter stopper. There’s a tagline for you. What were you doing before you got into the agency space? Did you always know entrepreneurship was gonna be in your path? What was young Jordan thinking about?
Young Jordan was a professional athlete. I was just laughing with someone who had the same aspirations, who owns an agency as well. As a teenager, me and my friends knew we were gonna be professional basketball players. That kind of fizzled out 18, 19 years old. Started getting into music for a while. Had moderate success, was a manager in music. That was probably my first venture into selling anything. Moved on to being a door-to-door salesman for what was then called Verizon on the East coast, and then what was then called Time Warner Cable. Had no idea that a website would ever be a thing for me. We built a website back when I was in the music space, and it was the most time consuming, convoluted thing that I had ever encountered. This is a many year ago, and a basic site from Joe Schmo was gonna be two, three grand. Now you can even find people to build a site for 500. It transcended here. I remember the first sites I played with and I hated every moment of it.
What was your first venture into the agency world? What actually got you on that path?
I get fired from Time Warner Cable, and one of my childhood friends reaches out, hey, I make websites, do you want to be partners and you sell ’em? I’ll build them. My first answer was, no. Absolutely not. I’m not doing that. I don’t understand websites. It sounds stupid, and he tells me we’re gonna be rich. People buy sites for three, four, $5,000. So I’m like, oh, ok then. Maybe. That could be a couple sites a month easy. We started doing that. We had an agency, we were full service, so we did everything from logos to websites to some social media management. We ran some ads for some clients. That is how I ventured into this agency space was as the business development person for an agency that I was a partner in. I was fortunate enough to actually build a sales team. Through that agency, we built two sales teams two separate times, commission only sales teams nonetheless, and they were moderately successful. I try to have some humility, but they did all right for some people who didn’t understand web design that were able to be coached up.
Often the hardest part of the business is the sales anyway, so that’s really cool.
That venture wasn’t meant to be. What happened there, how did that dissolve and then what did you decide to do next?
My old partner and I, we were going in two different directions. We decided to part ways. I was living in St. Louis at the time and decided to become a freelancer. I didn’t want the entrepreneurial adventure to stop, so I kept the party going. I actually had an opportunity to work for a recruiting company at that time, and the base was like 50, maybe 55K, which again, in St. Louis is really good money. I was kinda straddling the fence on it, whether or not it would happen. I was like, no, I can’t imagine having to get dressed and go to meetings and all these things that I had avoided for so many years. Being my own boss, we were work from home before work from home was a phrase. Started something called Jordan Consults. It was really me freelancing with a business name. I had my first client, someone I met in the meetup group, they wanted a website. I think I charged him maybe $500 for the site build. I had built a couple of sites by myself. My partner for years was doing it, but I had learned some stuff inside of WordPress, so I thought I was good enough to build the site. Hindsight I wasn’t. That is how it pivoted from there. Started trying to be full service, trying to do everything but realized that being everything for everyone is an awesome concept if you have a team and people who are specialists. I knew WordPress and I knew sales, so I really wanted to focus on building websites and also teaching small business owners how to sell their product or service. Like you said, the toughest thing I think in any business is the sales, cause you have to be able to get that person to unearth the debit card, the cash. Most people don’t have that skillset naturally.
Typical of many agencies, you started out doing anything and everything. At some point you came to the realization you needed to rethink that approach and ended up landing in SEO. How did you get to that decision? What was the final straw that got you there?
Jordan Consults lived for a little while right before the pandemic. I got tired of people saying Jordan Consultants. I got tired of some of the mislabeling. The consults piece all those years ago was meant to be the sales consult. Repositioned it because we had built a ton of websites over the years. Rebranded as Jordan Marketing Consultants. Did that for about two years as Jordan Marketing Consultants and focused in hard on building websites. Late last year. I was starting to get burned out from all the client conversations with the subjectivity of color. How come we have to have a button above the fold? Things that are fair because it’s art, right? We don’t like to believe that a website is art cuz there are things that help you with conversion and everything else, but this is someone’s art project at the end of the day. How do I tell you that your button should be the brand blue versus a flat black? How do I articulate that in a way that makes sense to the guy who’s a cleaner? He owns a cleaning company. He doesn’t really care, but he doesn’t want his buttons to be blue either. Taking that and then moving into joining a referral networking group and finding someone who did it better than I did. Watching their process, seeing how much we didn’t know, and knowing how good we would be at SEO, I started taking on SEO clients and haven’t looked back since.
Where did you pick up your experience in SEO? How did you become proficient in that as a skill? Cause I know that’s quite a tricky art.
The wild part is, back when I had the business partner, we actually pivoted. The original company was called Influence Media, and then we pivoted to Influence Local. We were supposed to be this locally branded company. We were still based in New York. I started learning a little bit about what local SEO meant. It really wasn’t a term. It was just SEO for local businesses. People really weren’t using the term. When I started doing things myself, I created a product for the company. Once I was Jordan Consults, that had an SEO model to it. I started using a couple of softwares, started taking a few courses within the softwares, understanding what the red and the green arrows meant. What was a local pack, what was serve and everything else, and then found Semrush. Started digging deeper into Semrush. Even to this day, I’m still looking at different coursework. I’m a nerd, so I’m always trying to learn something, but it’s important to learn traditional technique, proper terminology. Which is something that frankly I struggle with cuz I didn’t learn it in a traditional fashion. I learned it through piecemealing a lot of stuff together and getting results. Now in the last couple years I’ve been spending a lot more time honing in on what some of these technical terms are. I find myself in conversations sometimes with SEOs who have way more experience than I do, and they’re using terms. I’m like, I don’t know if I’ve heard it that way, and then when I articulate what I understand, their response is, yeah, you get it. That’s just what it’s called. Oh, okay. Now, that is the main focus, especially considering we are an SEO agency. Spending a whole lot of time making sure that we are best practice, best in breed, and we’re growing. I gotta make sure to be able to articulate this stuff to a team and not just me, myself, and I.
Makes perfect sense. I went through the same experience. I always handled the accounting for the business. I had no background, no training in accounting whatsoever. I eventually took a few courses. I was like, oh, that’s what that’s called. I understand this was a recent transition to be more solely focused on SEO. Once you made that, has it worked out, are you solidified in your mind that’s the way to go?
What I would say first is it was the scariest decision that I made, aside from not taking the $55,000 a year job with benefits. I was raised in a entrepreneurial space where you don’t leave money on the table. That’s why you’re full service. Cause you don’t wanna leave money on the table. There’s money everywhere. How dare you only do one thing? It was terrifying and I remember when I started articulating to people that we were going to be an SEO agency. I used to have to give the disclaimer, we used to be full service, but now we only, I had to validate that. The real transition into a solely SEO agency came earlier this year. Here we are just a few months later and we’ve grown exponentially. This is the biggest growth that we’ve had in a year’s time since I’ve been doing this. I credit all of it to being hyper-focused. The thing that I’ve learned is, we’re able to have so many conversations with other agencies that just never happened. There was never a natural synergy or conversation between agencies because you don’t really wanna talk to your competition too much. You might slip up. They gonna slip up and then everyone will have the secret sauce. Whereas being solely SEO, I’ll say it. My SEO community is way nicer than the digital marketing agency as a whole. I’ve met quite a few SEOs who have been more than willing to talk shop with me. Some of those conversations were in the capacity of them outsourcing some of their overflow. But those that there was no opportunity for me to work with them. Shoot, a couple of ’em, we got the same kind of client and I’m talking to these people for an hour and a half on the phone, talking shop, talking about some of the crazy stuff we experience as SEOs, talking to people who talk to some of the bigger agencies or maybe even a freelancer who is doing black hat stuff or whatever it may be. This experience and pivoting into being solely an SEO agency has been amazing. It has turned out to be something I wish I would’ve did a while ago. Cause I always wanted to focus on one thing, but I was always scared to, cause again, coming up in this entrepreneurial space, my thought was always, we don’t leave money on the table.
I think most folks that do end up nicheing feel a lot the same reservation of all of a sudden, you’ve gotta exclude people. We always talk about, who are you including rather than who you’re excluding. I also say that as a wake up call, maybe to the non SEO agencies out there that maybe they need to be more collaborative is maybe one of the underlying things that I heard there. Hear that folks, if you’re not an SEO company, check your collaboration.
Yeah. Talk to other agencies. Cause there’s enough for everyone. I’m a big believer at this point in my life where you can’t take anything that’s mine, I can’t take anything that’s yours, so if we’re talking shop, whether it be about web design, about anything, the only thing it does is make us better. I don’t have to worry about finding out how you’re getting your clients and then magically taking yours. Cause I can’t take yours, they’re not mine. I don’t think that’s the way life functions.
You made the big leap, in terms of nicheing an SEO. Do you think you’ll find yourself eventually positioning even further by a particular industry or other subset? How are you looking at that now?
That is the latest thing we’re playing with is, what verticals do we enjoy? Right now we’re pretty widespanning. The other fortunate thing about having some agency partners is industries that have long sales cycles that may take us a little bit longer to get into, they’re falling in our lap right now because this agency’s already done all the work and now we get to do the SEO. Our biggest thing is the home service industry, but as our team grows, I think that we will have the opportunity to almost have subsets. In a perfect world, we’ll be able to keep this local SEO aspect, and again, it’s not that we don’t offer international or national SEO, but local SEO, it’s hyper specific. Some would argue it’s probably one of the harder disciplines. It factors a little bit different, but I enjoy it because we help local business. All of my clients that are local SEO clients, I know the owner, I’m talking to them about stuff. Whereas some of the national campaigns, and we have one international that should be rolling through soon, the conversation’s just different. Cause the companies are bigger. I would love to be able to see that fan out on all three platforms where we have a team that still focuses on local SEO and, we’re still able to take on plenty of the bigger stuff and frankly, be able to offer the local SEO to smaller businesses at a lower cost. Because that’s the toughest part in being a business owner, figuring out how are you gonna pay for this, whatever this is.
The magic price point. Almost seems like you’re a born again agency owner and you’re finding your niche and the success you’ve had with that. What are you looking forward to the most over the next two to three years?
Next two to three years? That growth aspect. The most exciting and scary thing is having one SEO that works with me, being able to hire another one. Going from the freelancer to the agency owner, being able to fill in the organizational chart that I’ve created and figuring out when do we implement this piece and that piece? When does that project manager remove me from being the project manager? That’s the most exciting thing for me, is being able to see this thing grow some more over the next maybe two or three years. It’ll be seeing what it looks like to not have to spin all the plates at the same time. Cause I still do spin quite a few of them. In a couple years, I do see myself being a little more removed and it’s a wild thought to think that somebody else will be doing everything. I don’t even know what I’ll be doing then. How do I stay employed at my company if I’m not doing anything?
You can collect your money checks from somewhere on a beach maybe. What’s your biggest inspiration? Who or what’s been your biggest influence as you’ve gone about this role as entrepreneur and agency owner?
I think today my biggest inspiration is my family. My children and being able to show them a non-traditional way. I’ve always been a rebel without a cause, but the older you get, you gotta chill out with the rebelling. You gotta conform a little bit. Today that is one of my biggest inspirations. Being able to show my children an alternative route. Not that I want them to be entrepreneurs per se but I want them to know that whatever the traditional space is for their time. As every generation comes, the most straight road tends to be a different one. That, in my current space, is a big inspiration as far as being an entrepreneur. Thinking all the way back, the only thing I knew was, being a rebel without a cause, it was hardworking. I worked a few jobs and it was like, we could be doing this better, but y’all are telling me that this is the only way we can do it, because someone else said so that doesn’t even work at our level anymore. I still struggle with that answer. I don’t know if it’s a specific person or even event, but today it’s my family. It is making sure that my children and some of the younger cousins can see that there is an alternative route.
Nothing wrong with that. Can be a role model, a beacon or a buoys of success that they can model after one way or another. What does success look like for you? What is the big goal here? What are you trying to accomplish?
I think that is a moving target. If you asked me that, when I still lived in St. Louis, it was just a monetary goal. It was, oh, I wanna make, I wanna do, and at the time we were doing like little to no money, so don’t laugh at my number, I wanna be able to do five grand a month. Five grand a month, it was big, and even then that number ebbed and flowed depending on the responsibility. Today it is more about scaling this thing to the point where it’s something that is tangible for me to be able to step away from if my children want it. If a relative wants it, if I just want to sell it. I want something that is viable. I also hope to be able to leave a strong enough mark in the space of SEO and small business that changes the way some of the more muddier things happen. Hearing those horror stories, wanting to be that beacon where it’s like hey, man we all aren’t like this. I hope to be the person that you can reference like, no, Jordan Marketing Consultants, they don’t do it like that. I wanna make sure that is something that we are always proud of.
Last question for you, are entrepreneurs born or are they made?
I would say probably 70/30. Entrepreneurs gotta be 70% born, 30% you can make it into it. There’s a certain sticktuitiveness, there’s a willingness for risk that some people just aren’t born with. I know quite a few people that I think would be okay freelancing a little bit, but knowing that you have to hunt and kill in order to eat is not For everyone. Some people, the comfort of every two weeks, every week, every month, payments are perfect. But in order to be an entrepreneur, you have to be able to look around and go, I don’t feel like doing it today, but I gotta do it today. I may not feel like doing it tomorrow, I gotta do it tomorrow. And then as this thing grows, I’m now responsible for 15 people. Right now I’m responsible for five other people to eat. Everybody can’t handle that kind of responsibility, so I would say 70/30. I do think there is a way for you to be able to grow it, but I think you gotta have a baseline.
That’s really great. Most people say 50/50. I like the 70/30. That’s a more scientific thought. That sounds like a number an SEO person would do.
I think 70 30 is real, man. I know a lot of people who are amazing employees, amazing workers, but even them watching my entrepreneurial journey, they’re okay with saying I could never do this. What you’re doing is insane. I get it.
It’s a different world. Absolutely. If people wanna know more about Jordan Marketing Consultants, where can they go?
Hit us up on LinkedIn, man. We are Jordan Marketing Consultants on LinkedIn. You can look up Wendell Jordan Jr on LinkedIn. We put a lot of content out there. A lot of free tips and tricks. A lot of information. I share some stuff from some of those awesome SEOs that I was talking about earlier. It’s a great way to start that connection. Start following us, get connected with me on LinkedIn, and let’s build a relationship.
There you go, folks, there you have it. Thank you so much for being on the show today, Wendell. It was an absolute pleasure to meet you and hear your story. Thank you again.
Yes sir. Thank you. I appreciate you.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of An Agency Story podcast where we share real stories of marketing agency owners from around the world. Are you interested in being a guest on the show? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. An Agency Story is brought to you by Performance Faction. Performance Faction offers services to help agency owners grow their business to 5 million dollars and more in revenue. To learn more, visit performancefaction.com.
My old business partner, he finally convinces me to start doing the website thing, and he tells me to look at my book of business, is what he called it. Again, I’m a door to door salesman. I don’t have a book of business. That said, I go to this barber shop in the neighborhood all the time. I know both the owners, they don’t have a website. I hear him talking about how he needs one. I go, I meet with him, we talk, I go back and my partner asked me what did you quote him? I’m like, $250. So he’s like you kidding, right? What more? I’m like, no, that’s it. I go back tomorrow to get our deposit. It’s 50%, so the hundred and whatever dollars and we split this money in half. We’re both getting a bucket of some change on each side. We get it. He has no content. He doesn’t even have a logo for real. Mind you, he has signage. He has an awning with the logo, but he does not know where that logo file is. Great. Now my business partner’s doing all the work. He’s gotta create the logo. He’s gotta do the copy. He’s gotta find any stock photos that we’re gonna use. Hundred and something dollars. We finished the site, he’s dragging it, and when I tell you probably for the next 18 or so months, he would reach out to us for updates and edits and never paid a dime. He got about three years worth of web design service for $250.
Bargain of the century.
Yeah. That was the first site I ever sold, $250. I used to tell my sales team when they would tell me about how nervous they were about selling sites, I’m like, you can’t do worse than that.