Hello and welcome back to the HERO Show.
My name is Richard Matthews.
I am in line with Dimitri Kustov. Dimitri, are you there?
Yes, I am.
Awesome. Glad to have you here.
For those of you who are regular watchers of the show.
I am back in an RV park with no cell service.
So I’m back at the beach. Here’s my office view for the day.
Don’t have my cool studio here at the beach.
But anyway, what I want to do is introduce Dimitri real quick,
And then we’ll get started talking about what it is that he does
And his story. So, Dimitri, you were declared the SEO Rockstar
By the American Marketing Association, and you significantly
Increased the online presence of a brand through
Custom digital marketing campaigns and
Innovative content marketing techniques. Let’s see,
You’re also the internet marketing director at Regex SEO,
And your work has appeared, Regex SEO.
Your work has appeared on MOZ, RankWatch, SEMrush,
HackerNoon, UpCity, Business Innovator Radio, Small Biz
Bonfire and many other profile marketing platforms.
So why don’t you start off and tell us a little bit about
What your business is like, now?
What is it that people come to you for?
Why do they hire your company?
All right, well, first of all, thank you for having me.
And yes, I am the founder. And now I am
An internet marketing director at Regex SEO.
We are based out of Houston.
We have a couple offices in different cities in Austin,
And a couple of other ones. So we are a full digital marketing
Strategy digital marketing agency. We specialize in SEO,
Specifically, custom marketing campaigns, and everything,
Which is really related to marketing, from SEO to social media,
To email marketing, to even web design, branding, and more.
And kind of the whole idea is that we start from ground zero,
If you have never had any presence online at all,
Even if you don’t have a website,
If you don’t have any marketing strategy,
We kind of take you from that ground zero
And go with you as far and as high as you would like to go.
How long have you been doing that kind of work?
Well, professionally, it’s been about seven to eight years.
And first I have started when I was still in college.
And that if we count that, then it’s been almost 12 years now.
Awesome. And you said you’re a managing partner of Regex?
Yes, I am a managing partner.
So do you have other business partners
That you work within that company?
It’s three of us. And to give you a little bit of a backstory.
So I founded Regex in 2015, late 2015. And I was kind of just
Was on my own. And I am by training and by experience,
An SEO guy, more like a technical guy. I do also development
And things like that. And I needed help with design and sales.
And two of my friends, in 2017, they decided to open
Their own company who –
And they would be specializing in design. And so one of the guy’s
His in the design there and another guy, he is in sales.
And they kind of reached out to me to basically outsource
The SEO work for me. And while I would be outsourcing
Design work to them, we kind of talked back and forth.
And at that point, we decided, why not to combine
The strengths of ours. And that’s when we decided to merge.
And that’s how it is now. So I’m the technical guy,
Another partner is a designer. And the third partner is sales
And web and business development.
And at this point, how big is your team entirely,
With all of your employees and staff and that kind of stuff?
So right now we have 14 people in the house,
And probably around 30 or 40 freelancers,
And people who we use on a project basis.
So you have quite a large team that you work with now.
Is that been an interesting transition going from
Small business to having a team of something like
What do you say, almost 60 people that you work with?
The pretty much overall it’s almost like 60 people.
It’s surely is very different. Yes. And it’s –
Even though it’s fun, the difficulties, the problems,
The whole approach just kind of changes.
Whenever you are by yourself, everything is on you.
And you don’t really have to kind of talk to anybody.
All decision making is very straightforward, just throw it up
And there you go. And now it’s a completely different situation.
I have managers who work under me.
They have people who work under them.
And then we have freelancers, contractors,
And so on and so on. So it’s very different, that’s for sure.
But it’s still fun.
It’s an interesting place to be in your business
When it’s grown to that point.
So what I want to talk to you about a little bit
Is your origin story. Every hero has an origin story.
Its where you started to realize that you were different.
Maybe you had superpowers, and maybe you could use them
To help other people. Where did you make this discovery
That you wanted to be in SEO and
More particularly start a business in that space.
How did I start in SEO?
That was pretty much just a pure chance situation.
By training, my actual education is in web development
And programming. So I’ve been doing that for quite some time.
And I started looking for new jobs, I moved to Houston and
I started looking for new jobs. There was an ad.
And they were looking for a PHP developer.
When I came in there for the interview, they said,
“We do look for a developer, but the one who specializes in SEO.”
I have never heard that term before. And at the end of the day,
Basically what they were looking for was an SEO specialist.
And they kind of gave me an ultimatum
To learn SEO in couple months, or to be fired.
So that was something I have never had to deal with before.
And I just dove in, how do you say it, head first.
And in about six months, I was running
Their whole internet marketing department,
Just power through it. And ever since then, I am in marketing.
Just learn the skill. So how did you make the transition
From being someone who had a job
To someone who created a business?
So I’ve been working for that company for some time.
And the biggest differences, I guess, the things I did not like
The most were in the way we were kind of selling SEO.
And that’s unfortunately, a very common thing
To do in SEO industry. Whenever SEO is being sold as packages,
Somebody comes into SEO agency, and they’re being offered
Three, choose from three plans. And the whole idea
Is very weird to me because if you’re a dentist and the lawyer,
How can you be doing the same marketing, the same activities,
The same type of things for a dentist and for a lawyer?
So at that point, it became a question. It needs to be all custom.
It needs to be custom approach, it needs to be very different
From what the SEO industry is used to. And that’s how I decided –
I just going to go and try it on my own since the management
At that company did not agree with me. And so just decided
To start it. And that’s it.
So when was that? When did you make that decision
To start your own company?
It was end of 2015. And officially, I got incorporated
Or like the open the actual company
On paper in March 2016.
So three to four years and you’ve gone from just yourself
To 40 people and a couple of partners and offices in a few cities?
Yes. In the beginning, it was kind of quite a slow process,
That’s for sure. The growth we had after the merge
Has been tremendous. And I’m very glad, very thankful
For meeting those guys, for knowing those guys.
And the growth was kind of almost exponential.
If you do it over the years.
It makes a lot of sense. So what I want to talk about next
Is your superpowers. And this is I want to talk
Specifically about you and what you bring to the company.
So what is it that you do or build or offer this world
That help solve problems for people that really helps to slay
This world’s villains? What is it that you bring to the table,
Bring to Regex that really is like your own personal superpower?
That’s a very good question. At the end of the day,
I am in marketing. So my actual job, my what I’m here for,
Is to create the best marketing solution for people.
And as I said before, it’s three partners.
And I’m the only one who had some background in marketing.
So that’s a unique thing, which I do bring to the place.
And what I also – I’m very analytical.
My education is in mathematics. So all that programming
I was talking about earlier, it’s all based in mathematics.
My actual degree is in applied mathematics.
So I look at everything from analytics point of view.
And in marketing, most of the decisions are based on numbers,
Or at least they should be if some kind of strategy
Is some kind of approach doesn’t work? Well, in that case,
We should not be wasting money and putting more and more into it.
And rather just look at the data and analyze everything
And see what is the channel,
The marketing channel that brings the most return
On investment ROI? And I think that’s kind of,
I wouldn’t call it a superpower. But it’s something that
How I differentiate myself, I guess. It’s not about feelings.
It’s not about, “This is what I think.”
It’s more about, here’s the beta, parse through it, think through it.
And there you go.
So I have a question for you.
Just a thought that I’ve been having,
Me and one of my business partners have been talking about,
You have different marketing channels, and you have –
Some of them that produce an ROI,
And some of them that don’t. And then you have in the
Selection of channels that produce an ROI,
Some of them produce really high ROI,
And some of them are produced low ROIs.
And one of the contentions that I have is that
A lot of businesses will look at three or four different
Marketing channels and say three of them are producing an ROI.
They’ll kill all of them, except the one that’s producing
The best ROI. And I always am asking, what,
Why would you kill the marketing channel
That’s producing an ROI at all? If it’s producing
Return on investment, even if it’s lower than the other one,
It’s still producing an ROI.
And I’m curious what your thoughts are on that.
That question has been asked all the time here.
And the answer usually is it depends on the budget.
So if you have a very limited budget, a couple of thousand dollars,
Very small budget for the industry. In that case,
It makes more sense to just get the most
Out of your buck in the beginning kind of thing,
And get the most sales the most return in the beginning,
And then take that money which you are getting from
That the best-performing channel and start investing
In other channels. Now, if your budget does allow,
We always recommend, in fact, going after all of the channels.
And if your budget even allows that,
Then you might want to invest in the channels,
In the marketing channels, which are not getting any ROI.
And here is why pretty much that’s for brand recognition.
There are people who are, let’s say, as funny as it is,
Not everybody is on social media. So if you found out before that,
Everything, the best performing channel is social media.
And I want to just concentrate on that, while you’re missing out
On the chunk of the audience which has never had social media.
So you kind of need to go and you know not to put
All the eggs in one basket. But again, at the end of the day,
It’s really dependent on the budget if you can go for all of them.
If you can’t, then just pick the best one, get generate results,
And then kind of reinvest.
That’s sort of where I come down on it as well. As many as you can,
And as money overflows in one start putting into the next ones,
And really help grow your business that way. So the other side of
Superpowers are your fatal flaws. So Superman has his Kryptonite.
Batman is not actually superhuman. So my question is,
What has something that has your business back
Over the years that you’ve had to work on?
Or have struggled with? What is it and what have you been doing
To help overcome that and in your business growth,
So other people who struggle
Something similar might learn from you?
There are a couple of things which are we are
Kind of still figuring out. And one of the biggest ones
Was and a little bit still is, is just getting the right people.
I started on my own decision process is very simple.
You don’t – You are responsible for yourself, and that’s it.
Now, whenever you start expanding,
It’s all about finding the right people for the right price.
We’re not we’re still a pretty small company,
We don’t have so much money that we can just waste
Hundred thousand dollars a year on somebody’s salary.
And then, if it didn’t work out, “oh well.”
So that still is a very, very important topic for us.
How to find those right people, right, folks,
And we want them to feel comfortable, we want to enjoy,
We want them to enjoy working with us.
And we don’t want them to not produce any results either.
So that’s one of the major parts of it. And then another one,
Which again, is very much related to the growth of the business
Especially, rapid growth is just setting up systems in place.
When I was by myself, I had probably under 10 clients,
And pretty much like Gmail and Google Sheets.
And that’s all I needed for everything,
From my accounting to my task boards, to everything.
And then, now when we have so many people,
And then several levels of management, it needs to be
All set up in such a way that whenever somebody leaves
Or somebody new comes on board, that it’s fairly easy
To you train them. Fairly easy to kind of add them
To the workflow without breaking the whole thing.
So that’s one of the probably two major things,
Which we are still improving on. And in terms of personal one,
I think it is, it comes down to organization.
I’m kind of a procrastinator by nature, I guess.
So I have to overcome that quite a bit.
Just keeping myself organized, keeping myself on time
And things like that, just have to force yourself.
Do you have any tips for finding good people?
I don’t know if I have a good tip.
Or not yet anyway ’cause you haven’t figured it out.
So, fortunately, for us, it has worked out the way that
We try to hire young, bright folks who are,
Either, right off out of the college, or even if
They never even went to college, they are very self-motivated.
So we kind of give them the opportunity to grow with us.
And they start at the bottom, they start with smaller,
Smallest tasks, the simplest tasks,
And we tell them pretty much, kind of figure it out on your own.
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask.
But there is no like a thick manual we can give you
And just follow the steps. And fortunately, it has worked out for us.
That’s how we hired pretty much everybody in the office.
They come in fresh, they kind of figure it out on their own.
We help them as much as we can. And they grow
With the company. The guys who started with us
In the beginning as pretty much like interns.
They are managers now. So that’s what worked out for us.
It makes a lot of sense. So I want to talk a little bit about
Your clients and the common enemy that you guys fight against.
So if, when you bring on a new client, if you could –
You have a magic wand that you sort of wave and
Could magically remove something from their life,
From their thinking, from whatever it is they’re doing
In their marketing that you could just 10 x their results a lot faster.
If they didn’t struggle with this, what would that be?
There are a couple things, one of the most frustrating things
We come across is just not understanding the value of marketing.
Some people come to us and it’s why do we
Have to pay you so much I can, I kind of can do it myself,
It’s not worth it to me. And it’s very discouraging.
And it’s also, not true. If anybody who has been in the marketing
Industry or have been doing marketing, overall, you kind of know
How much time and effort it takes.
And sometimes it’s difficult to explain. Difficult to explain to people
Who are not in that industry, who do not really understand
The value of it. And at some point, we kind of just had to
Get those clients because we needed the cash flow,
And we kind of had to power through it.
Nowadays, fortunately, we can pick and choose a little bit.
So that helps as well, whenever somebody comes in,
We spend a good two, three hours just talking to them,
Chatting with them. And if it doesn’t sound they understand
The value of marketing. Well, at that point,
It’s going to be a waste of time and money on everybody’s hands.
We try, we do our best. But we can, we had some clients,
We had produced, triple their ROI. And they come back,
It’s well, this is not enough. We have expected way more –
… that before.
And that’s probably one of the bigger, bigger one, bigger problems.
And then another one, I would say is reliant on data
Rather than feelings. As I mentioned before, I am that person,
Which would just take data over anything else.
And unfortunately, many clients, especially when they are
Kind of like a solo entrepreneur, or when they have
A lot invested in their business like a personal baby kind of thing.
Well, at that point, it becomes difficult to make rational decisions
Because it is their baby. It’s like we can show them
Data shows this, don’t do it or do that.
And they have such emotional connections. They can’t part ways.
And that would be another thing, which if possible,
Just cut the line and that’s it just get rid of that.
Cut the line just remove it. That’s a common thing that I see.
And I’ve definitely run into the clients before who were –
You provide an amazing ROI. And they just feel
It’s not what I wanted. I wanted to – 1,000,000% ROI.
And we’re like I right, you’re not talking in reality.
So the other side of that, if that’s what you fight against,
Is the stuff that you fight for. You’re driving force,
Just like Spider-Man fights to save New York or
Batman fights to save Gotham or Google fights
To categorize all the world’s information.
What is it that you guys at Regex fight for?
At the end of today, it’s delivering great results.
It’s making sure that the SEO industry, that the marketing industry
Is not being perceived as a snake oil salesman.
Unfortunately, because of a lot of scams,
Probably around 10-15 years ago, SEO industry has still that
After the taste of that. And we are making sure that
Everything we do is, well, first of all, it’s professional
And then that we can change the mind of that.
That we’re not just snake oil salesmen, that we are not just doing
Some things because just to take your money.
It’s all data-driven. It’s all result based. And, of course,
It’s about results. We want businesses to grow.
It’s one of the best feelings whenever we can take
A fresh company like a brand new company,
And develop them from, zero dollars to
The multimillion-dollar company over, of course, time.
It has happened before, as well. So probably those two things.
That’s awesome. And seems to me, you guys, have
One of the reasons I love marketing businesses in particular
Is your business has- It’s like built on the ripple effect
That anytime you have a positive impact in your clients business,
That then goes on to have a positive impact on all of their clients,
Which is I think is pretty cool.
Absolutely. And as we always say, to our clients, you grow, we grow.
And that’s how it is. The more money they make,
The more money they can invest in marketing,
The more money they can do more, they can expand.
And therefore there’s more work for us.
There is more things for us to do. So that’s how we go about it.
We don’t want to just take your money and run.
We want to help the businesses grow.
So that brings me to the next topic, which I wanted to bring up
Something we talked about earlier.
And this is your hero’s tool belt.
Maybe you have a big magical hammer like Thor
Or a bulletproof vest like your neighborhood police officer
Or maybe you just really love how Evernote helps you
Organize your thoughts. So I’m curious what you guys use.
You mentioned project management was something that
You guys have been working on and growing,.
What are some of the tools you use to really manage
And work with a business your size?
I don’t think we have a hero as a some kind of like a mascot.
It’s all about just hard work. And in terms of tools we use,
There are quite a bit of them we utilize.
So for all of our SEO stuff, we use a platform called SEMrush,
I don’t know if you have ever heard of it. We do use a
… for backend building purposes. We utilize a lot of Google Sheets,
Because quite a few things of ours are custom.
And Google Sheets probably provides the easiest way
To kind of combine many different things into one.
You can automate a lot of stuff with Google Sheets, too.
There’s Google Data Studio, we use a lot. Let’s see.
And then for project management,
We are still in the process of discovery. We have been using Asana.
We have been using Tsheets for all time-related tracking.
And now we are exploring this new tool called Acelo.
We are just like today, we had a demo with them.
And it seems so far, so good. We just need to find out
If it’s a good fit for us. But there are a lot of tools.
For email marketing, we use SendGrid for all of our websites.
All our websites, most of them are actually custom.
So we don’t use like a WordPress or anything like that.
We develop it from scratch. And what we are trying to do
Whatever tool we use, we are really making sure
That it has some type of API, which we can utilize
In order to pull all of the data that tool provides and
Be able to pull it into reports, into other things.
Into data that you can show your customers. So I’m curious
Because it seems like something you might have run into
A couple of times over the growth of your business.
And it’s, when is the right time to make a big tool change.
Like for instance, you’re talking about moving your
Project management from Asana to a fellow or
Whatever you called it?
Acelo. How do you sort of make that decision internally?
Where you’re saying, we’re going to take the time and effort
To learn a new program, transition all of our stuff over here
And move something new, a new tool? Is there something about
Like we’re hitting limitations with current tools,
Or it’s not working for us? What is sort of the catalyst
To change something, as big as, a project management tool
Or other tools you’re using for your business?
As you said, Just now, it is about hidden limitations.
And then also what we are trying to do as we are expanding,
Because we are expanding so quickly, we are kind of trying
To future proof, as well. And the catalyst is usually a suggestion
Or a complaint or a phone call from a client or potential client.
And when they ask somebody,
“Hey, can I see this?” or “Why do guys not do that?”
And it kind of just starts off that chain reaction for us.
And we start exploring and trying to make sure that we are
Answering and satisfying all the needs, which we are,
Which we need now. But at the same time, we’re trying to future proof
So that whenever we’re expanding and more,
Whenever we hire more guys, it’s all very much streamlined.
And we don’t take those types of decisions,
The bigger decisions lightly, it’s going to take us a couple months
To make sure that if we do switch, then that tool
Provides everything for us. And that’s pretty much about everything,
As long as it’s not cheap. And as long as it’s going to take
Quite a bit of time for us to research and if we mess up
And it’s going to affect us a lot. We do not take those decisions
Lightly it takes month …
I know it’s pretty common to make decisions,
“Okay, where are we doing our project management or
Where we doing our automation?” It is it Active Campaign or
Is it Infusionsoft and we’re going to – If anytime you make
A decision to move your whole business from one platform
To another like that, it’s really difficult and I imagine
It’s a lot more difficult when you are the size you are.
Where you have, 15-16 staff in-house and 60 plus people
Overall all working with these systems.
It’s a big deal to change something like that.
So thanks for your thoughts on that.
Music is by https://purpleplanet.com/
So my next question here is about your own personal heroes.
So Frodo had Gandalf. Luke had Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Robert Kiyosaki had his Rich Dad. Who were some of your heroes?
Were they real-life mentors? Were they the speakers or authors?
Were they peers who were just a few years ahead of you?
And how important were they to what you guys
Have accomplished so far in your business?
I don’t think I have a personal hero.
I have been asked that question several times.
And I don’t really have like a real-life mentor,
Who I would go to with any question. What I usually say
Is that my mentor is YouTube and internet.
And that’s just what it was.
As I mentioned earlier, whenever I got hired as a developer,
And got, basically given, two months to figure out
The whole SEO thing, all it was is just lots of internet research.
Lots of YouTube videos and there are, nowadays everything
You can find everything on the internet. So that’s what I do.
Always, whenever I have some kind of question.
I’m not trying to find somebody, I just go and Google it.
Go research it, test it, if I can. There are of course,
People who are really good at what they do in the industry.
And I just hadn’t had a chance, I guess, to meet them,
To become friends with them.
Even though I guess I tried to certain extent.
But I don’t think there is anybody
Who is a personal hero of mine, in like that.
That makes a lot of sense. Sometimes you just got to put
Your nose to the grindstone and make it happen.
And just said yourself, it’s all about –
I don’t have a personal hero, what I kind of say,
Which is in the same lines is that my heroes
Are the guys who work here. Without them, this would not happen.
So at the end of the day, it’s getting right people in office
Who really enjoy what they do
And just have good head on their shoulders.
I know, my business has been growing.
And the couple of people I have on staff are incredible.
And I don’t know how I can do anything that I do without them.
So that’s a good place to be. So last question,
Let’s bring it home for our listeners top one or two principles
Or actions that you use and follow every day
That helped contribute to the success and growth
Of your company that maybe you wish
You’d known when you started out?
There are a couple of things, which I kind of believe, I guess, in.
And all it is just perseverance, and improvement over time.
So, when I started on my own, it’s kind of,
I’ve had couple of moments where I would be,
I guess, lazy to certain extent. And it’s like, I can do this task tomorrow,
I can skip this for another day or something like that.
And who knows where I would be now if I did not skip those tasks.
It would take an extra hour, something like that.
And even though in the beginning, it was a 16-hour working days,
Pretty much seven days a week? Well, we might have been
The 40-people company in-house.
Forty people in-house company now,
Instead of 14, who knows. And another thing
Is just improvement over time. And at the end of the day,
If things are not improving, then in the business world,
You are not getting better. What this means is that
Pretty much every action we take, every decision we make,
We try to make sure that it’s going to take our company,
It’s going to take our overall performance towards the right direction.
And the same thing applies for our clients.
If it’s not really working, if data tells us that
The things are not going the right way. We just make sure that
We are not just keep – We do not keep doing those things.
I think I forgot who said that. But the definition of insanity
Is doing the same thing over and over again
Expecting different results. So that’s what it is for me.
I think that’s those are two main things.
Awesome. Thank you so much, Dmitri.
Really appreciate you coming onto the show today.
Last question, where can people go to find you
If they are looking for someone who does what you do?
And more importantly, what is the ideal type of client
To reach out and talk to you?
Okay, all right. So that’s a very simple question.
Our website is https://www.regexseo.com/
And you simply go to our website and give us a call or
Fill out a contact form. And we’ll go from there.
If you would like to chat with me personally,
You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org that’s my email,
Or on Twitter or LinkedIn. My handle is DigitalSpaceman.
It’s @DigitalSpaceman. And it’s fairly easy to remember.
We are in Houston, it is a space city.
It’s all about the rockets and space exploration and stuff.
So that’s why Spaceman and Digital is because well,
We are in the world of digital marketing.
Again, it’s https://www.regexseo.com/contact/
And my personal Twitter and LinkedIn handle is @Digital Spaceman.
Okay, thank you very much to meet you.
I really appreciate your coming on the show today.
It was an absolute pleasure when –
Having you on the show today. Do you have any,
Any final thoughts for us before we hop off?
Alright, well thank you, Richard, for having me.
And I hope to talk to you soon again. And we’ll see you next time.