I recently published a book called "Simple Business Advice". I have lots of thoughts about how to run a business and you won't agree with everything I say, but AMA.

Matthew Smith
Jun 8, 2018

I run of a boutique digital marketing firm and enjoy working with small business owners around the country to help them grow their businesses. My firm specializes in developing simple, actionable plans that we then implement. We've helped to grow dozens of companies through strategic SEO, PR, web design, social media marketing, content marketing, and more. Simple Business Advice is my third small business book. Ask me anything!


What is the Vibe of this AMA? What is AMA Vibe?

This AMA has finished, no more comments and questions can be posted and votes submitted to those. Check other similar AMAs here or host your own AMA!

Conversation (45)

In three easy steps and under a minute you could be hosting your own AMA. Join our passionate community of AMA hosts and schedule your own AMA today.

Let's get started!

Can you share more about the community and non-profit efforts you do through Modmacro?
Jun 11, 5:07AM EDT0

Hi Kristen,

The community work we do is volunteer/ pro bono. We have partnered with Sunridge community Church in Temecula, and provide a number of digital marketing/ strategy services there. We've also supported youth camps, and missions trips. In addition, we've been working with TEDx Temecula for a few years as a sponsor/ partner and also helping to promote their annual event. Last year we developed the website for a rapidly growing home school coop that desperately needed a professional web presence and a way to communicate with the families. We've got a few other things in works as well.

We work with a number of non-profit clients too. These typically aren't pro bono relationships. For example, we are the digital marketing partner for VitalChurch Ministry, an interim pastor organization that serves churches internationally.

Jun 11, 1:22PM EDT0
What are the toughest decisions that, as a CEO, you’ve made so far?
Jun 11, 4:48AM EDT0

Hi,I suppose the most challenging decisions revolve around people. So means things like hiring, firing, discipline. Who to hire, when to cut the cord on a team member who isn't working out, when to have a talk with someone who isn't meeting expectations. But we encounter these kinds of issues very infrequently.

I also struggle with saying no (mostly to myself). I tend to see everything as an opportunity. So I can easily become distracted and go off in a less productive direction. That’s why we own so many domain names, operate so many websites of our own, etc. Learning to avoid distraction and stay focused on a smaller number of things really brings much more success. And makes me feel less schizophrenia. In large part, this is what my first book, Kill the Noise, is about.

I’ve gained some discipline when it comes to how and when we should expand our services, write another book, or create yet another web asset. I’m better, but no where near perfect. Right now we’re in a stage of consolidation and simplification. We’re laying out plans to merge several of our sites into just a few. That will focus the user base, our efforts, and probably result in better publications. I’m quick to point out my flaws, but I’ll also mention one of our successes. We’ve done a pretty good job at building and growing Businessing Magazine.

Jun 11, 1:14PM EDT0
Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years? How do you see the digital marketing business evolve?
Jun 10, 11:24PM EDT0

Hi Kamaa,That's a tough question! As the digital marketing world evolves, we evolve with it. So while I probably can't predict what the internet will look in 10 years, I can say that whichever marketing tactics deliver the best results for our clients in the future, are the ones we'll be using.

That said, the internet really doesn't evolve that quickly. I was building websites more than 10 years ago, and there are many things that haven’t changed much. For example, users will always crave great content. Maybe that content comes in different forms (text, interactive graphics, video, etc.) But content will remain king. And I'm confident that Google's search algorithms will still heavily consider content in their rankings.

Jun 11, 7:52PM EDT0
Where does your company operate and how can people reach you?
Jun 10, 9:45PM EDT0


We are located in Southern California, near San Diego, but we partner with small businesses and non-profits across the country. We can be contacted a number of ways, but the easiest is through our contact page.

Jun 11, 1:01PM EDT0
What kind of companies could benefit themselves from using a business platform such as PorticoBis? How do you help them?
Jun 10, 10:12AM EDT0


PorticoBIS is our business software framework that we've been developing for well over a decade. It's light, secure, and customized to the needs of each business.

PorticoBIS is a good fit for service companies who have been unable to find off-the-shelf software that does everything they need. Our software allows small businesses to have exactly the software they want, to manage projects, operations, invoicing, CRM and more. But because it's purpose built it's many times more expensive than some other solutions.

PorticoBIS provides small businesses with access to tech that usually only larger companies can afford. So while our software is more expensive than off-the-shelf, it's still much less expense than what larger companies are using.

Jun 10, 4:40PM EDT0
Should all businesses develop a mobile friendly version of their website? Why or why not?
Jun 9, 11:50PM EDT0

100% yes! In many industries, more than 50% of website visitors are on a mobile device. So providing them a great user expereince is key. Add to that, the fact that Google downranks sites that don't support mobile friendliness . Add to that, Google's recent mobile-first indexing approach.

Jun 10, 1:04PM EDT0
What are the results businesses should expect from smart marketing?
Jun 9, 1:34PM EDT0


The results depend on the goals, and each company is different. The types of clients we typically work with are looking to grow their company. That simply means more customers. But mature companies also want the right kind of customers. In short, our marketing objectives typically revolve around gaining exposure and brand recognition, increasing traffic to digital assets (like your website), educating prospective customers about the product/ service and the company, and converting them into a lead. Once the customer makes contact, via a call or online, our job is complete. From their it's our clients responsiblity to take a warm, interested lead and convert them.

Jun 9, 1:51PM EDT0
What are some of the unpopular business thoughts that you believe people won't agree with?
Jun 9, 10:14AM EDT0


Here's one example... I gave a talk at a local business college a few years back, and when asked about how my company uses Twitter to promote our clients, I responded with something like "Twitter is for kindergartners". There are exceptions, but most companies shouldn't waste their time using Twitter. There just isn't a ROI.

Last edited @ Jun 9, 2:12PM EDT.
Jun 9, 1:57PM EDT0
How common is it for reputable websites to get blacklisted from sending email?
Jun 9, 6:46AM EDT0


It's very common because it's not just the website's reputation that affects blacklisting. It's the IP address. So when your site is on a server at GoDaddy or HostGator or wherever, and it shares the server with 5000 other sites, when any of those sites misbehave, you all get blacklisted. It's the "bad neighbor" issue that people talk about. Make sense?

Jun 9, 11:29AM EDT0
What are the misconceptions business owners have about digital marketing?
Jun 8, 9:43PM EDT0

Hi Shellwin,Thinking about the new clients I've been speaking with lately, I can't think of many misconceptions regarding digital marketing. More than that, it’s that many small business owners simply don’t know how broad the digital marketing world can be. They are surprised to learn how many differ things we can do in the digital space to advertise and promote their business. For example, in my mind, all of the following categories fall under what we call “digital marketing”: social media, digital advertising, local SEO, content marketing, link-building, and digital PR. And there’s more than that!What’s important to understand is that we take a unique approach to each client. Depending on their market, industry, budget, and goals for growth, we craft a marketing strategy specifically for them.We invest heavily to educate clients as well. Although we do employ trade secrets when it comes to things like SEO, we make sure that clients have an understanding for what we’re doing, and why. But to be honest, most clients don’t care much about the who, what, when, where or why of our tactics. They simply want the phone to ring. And when that happens, they’re happy.

Are you in the digitial marketing world? If so, what misconceptions are you facing?

Jun 8, 11:15PM EDT0
What is your opinion of companies using paid, search and owned media?
Jun 8, 9:27PM EDT0

Hi Marija,

All forms of media can be used for good. Here's our recent blog post on how we use various forms of media for clients.

Jun 8, 11:04PM EDT0

Do the books you published bring leads to your business? How do you track those if so? Would you advice any business and/or influencer to invest in publishing a book to establish some credibility?

Jun 8, 8:06PM EDT0

Hi Tatiana,

The short answer is not really. But in our way of thinking, published books aren't a direct marketing tactic. Instead, they are a conversation starter, a door opener, a credibility builder, and a value adder. Want to be an authority in your field? Well, you're probably expected to be published.

Many of the public speaking events I've been invited to do were up front about the fact that being an "author" is a prerequisite. (although I avoid public speaking like the plague) For example, it seems like most TED/ TEDx presenters are published these days.

We don't advise small business owners to start a book until they are ready. And some will never be. They need to have experience, a budget, and a background that brings value to the public. I do believe that most small business owners have a story worth sharing (the motto of our publisher), but not all.

From a marketing perspective, the book becomes an asset. Once the book is published it then becomes a question of what we'll do with it. And that process does build client relationships, get positive attention, and illustrate and depth of passion for your field. And those can bring leads. Done correctly, books grow businesses, but indirectly.

Jun 8, 11:02PM EDT0
How does 43leads work to prevent blacklisting?
Jun 8, 7:51PM EDT0

Hi Richard,

We operate the 43Leads platform on a scalable, dedicated server and an IP address that we control. So we start by eliminating the risk of bad neighbors. We're also very careful with who can be on the platform and what they can do. That means our IP won't get blacklisted. Then we host all the services, including the web forms that your site uses. So the forms are displayed on your site, but they are not actualled served by your site. Then, if your website's IP gets blacklisted (very common) you don't even care because it doesn't interupt your operations. Your leads come to you from a same IP and your email client won't reject them. You can also check out our FAQs on blacklisting.

Jun 8, 10:47PM EDT0
What are the benefits of having a strong user interface for a website?
Jun 8, 11:24AM EDT0

Hi Meriton,

I typically think of the user interface (UI) as being more important for web applications and less important for informational websites. With an informational site, the design in critical, but the user isn't really interfacing with anything interactive. On the other hand, highly interactive sites/ applications, like the Design Center we recently built for a San Diego window and door company need a useful, intuitive user interface.

Jun 9, 1:55PM EDT0
How does your company separate itself from others?
Jun 8, 6:18AM EDT0
How long did it take you to write Simple Business Advice? How did the idea come to you?
Jun 8, 4:41AM EDT0


Simple Business Advice was the 3rd major book we did. It started as a way to discuss the subjects that we were not able to cover in the previous books. At the time, I started writing a column for Businessing Magazine called Simple Business Advice, but quickly realized a book was a better format. We opened the project by offering (5) sponsorship slots and once those were filled, the project was launched. You can see the sponsors here.

The books I write tend to be opinion based. And since I'm never short on opinions, it was easy to get started. I wanted to discuss common issues that small businesses face because we work with so many companies and many of them struggle with the same decisions and challenges.

I honestly don't remember how long it took to write. Running Modmacro keeps me very busy, plus family, life, etc. So I do extra things (like books) a little here a little there until they are done. As long as I have an outline to work from, it's easy to build it a piece at a time. All in all, I probably spent a year on this book, but that's working on it sporadically. I've seen people outline a book in a week and write it the next week.

Jun 8, 1:02PM EDT0
Where can your books be bought and in what formats are they available?
Jun 8, 4:18AM EDT0


Our books are available from the major online retailers. For Simple Business Advice, you can see the list and links here (including Amazon in print, Kindle, B&N Nook, iBooks, etc.). We set book pricing to be affordable with digital versions starting at $2.99.

Jun 8, 12:51PM EDT0
What are the best and worst consequences of a company not choosing to use a service like 43Leads?
Jun 8, 1:49AM EDT0


Thanks for asking about 43Leads! This is a service we launched a few years ago after we recognized a need for small business websites and couldn't find a solid solution.

I encourage small business owners to investigate what 43Leads is and why a service like ours can be a game changer.

In short, the worst case scenario is having your website's IP get blacklisted and as a result, not recieving the leads coming to you from your own site. It's actually a common problem, but most small businesses don't know it can happen unitl it does. That's how 43Leads began. It happened to someone we knew. One of the compounding problems is that when you stop receiving emails from your site, they are usually black-holed and lost forever. So not only did you miss the lead when a potential customer has contacted you, but now you have no way to know about it or recover it. So you don't even know how many you missed or who they were. That sucks! And it's why the first thing we did with the 43Leads platform was to build in real-time backups to a database. And some other great features. So with 43Leads, even if there is an issue with your website, or your email, or your computer, or our server, or the transmission between any of them, you still have a backup you can review at anytime.

Jun 8, 1:20PM EDT0
Would you agree that nowadays all websites look the same regarding web design? How do you make yours stand out?
Jun 7, 11:15PM EDT0


There are certainly commonalities amoung top websites and top designers today. Some are trends, some are more timeless. But I see major differences in professionally produced websites, in design, functionality, and the way content is presented. Some of the "same look" that you're observing is probably related to SEO best practices, designers making use of the latest browser technologies, and so on. I would like to think that the websites my company produces are quite diffent from one another. You can take a look at some of our recent work and let me know if you agree.

Websites need to match the market and industry they serve. Everything from color scheme to font usage makes a difference. Depending on the goals of the client, and thier budget, we strive to deliver a site that help them reach their audience and grow their business.

One other thing to consider. There are several web design companies who have, for the sake of ease and repeatability, standardized on a common look and/or website architecture. I'm not bashing those who do that, but in those cases their sites do tend to look very similar from one to the next. Perhaps that contributes to what you're observing. What do you think?

Jun 8, 1:12AM EDT0
What awards or accolades has your company won?
Jun 7, 3:43PM EDT0


Over the past few years we've eraned over 100 awards in the marketing/communcations/design space. You can see our complete list of awards here. Most of the awards are related to web design and content creation, but there are also several for logo design, social media marketing, video production and other stuff.

Most awards are for client projects, but we've also received a number of accolades for our own projects, like Businessing Magazine.

Thanks for asking! We're proud of the work we do for clients as we help to grow their companies.

Jun 7, 5:10PM EDT0
About #BusinessAMA

Welcome to #BusinessAMA, an AMA channel all about Business for startups, founders, CEO's. and more.

The #BusinessAMA channel is owned and operated by AMAfeed, LLC.