The Silicon Review
“A ‘process-centric’ approach has the steps between the beginning and the end clearly defined, so our clients don’t need to pay us for that development work.”
Third Marble Marketing, an Internet marketing agency, provides Google AdWords Management, Google My Business, and SEO services to SMBs.
The company’s mission is to help local economies grow across the U.S. by making digital marketing solutions affordable and accessible to local and small businesses.
Third Marble is based in Richmond, VA.
Interview Excerpt: Chris Fawcett
Q. What’s your story?
I started Third Marble in 2009, intending to help small businesses get more customers from internet marketing. There were many expensive marketing solutions at the time, and I decided there had to be a better way. I wanted to create a less than $1000/month solution for the average business owner trying to live the American dream.
When I looked at all the different online advertising solutions, I simply asked, “What drives revenue quickly, consistently, and can be measured?” There was only one answer—Google Ads.
I decided to follow the Jiffy Lube model. Offer one service, do it well and do it quickly for less than anyone else. And that’s how it started.
As a former industrial engineer, I am all about efficiency.
We started breaking down the Google Ads and the SEO process into its simplest components and asking, “If we’re only spending $20/day, do we need to do this?” And over time, we developed internal processes that not only enable us to be one of the most affordable and effective in the country but also hire and train our employees quickly.
That helps us reduce training costs and allows us to scale quickly.
Q. What’s the greatest challenge your company has faced? How did you overcome it?
The greatest roadblock I had to overcome was to gain a prospect’s trust.
What’s interesting about the SEO and Google Ads market is the number of scams that business owners try to avoid. Almost any small business owner will tell you that they get a constant stream of phone calls and emails every day telling them that “you’re not on page one of Google” or “your Google listing has expired.” Many have been burned by one of these scams. You simply don’t see this level of widespread, unethical sales behavior in other small business services like accounting services, print advertising, website design, or credit card processing.
To overcome the distrust that almost every small business owner has about Google Ads and SEO, we made our process as transparent as possible, eliminated contracts, and slashed setup fees. We also strive to be accessible, avoid using complicated acronyms that confuse people, and keep the sales process friendly and helpful. Essentially, we needed to transfer some of the risks from the prospect to us. We lose money in the first month or two with every new client. As a result, we’re driven to make sure we keep our clients happy.
Q. Third Marble Marketing specializes in Google Ads Management for small businesses. How uniquely do you address these businesses’ pain points?
I would have to answer this by saying we’re a little more like a ‘one-size fits all’ company. Our goal is to deliver an affordable service that gets results. To do that, we’ve adopted a very process-focused approach vs. a ‘customer-centric’ approach. This is essentially what Henry Ford did for the automobile.
He didn’t invent the car; he created a process to make cars affordable so that everyone could now afford one. As Henry Ford used to say, “You can have any color car you want as long as it’s black.”
So, Third Marble only targets clients whose pain point is “I need more customers.”
A typical ‘client-centric’ agency will treat a customer like a project. A project has a defined beginning and a defined ending. They have to create all the steps between the beginning and the end, and the client pays the agency to create those steps. They get together in conference rooms and have several expensive meetings and determine a plan and who will do what, etc.
A ‘process-centric’ approach has the steps between the beginning and the end clearly defined, so our clients don’t need to pay us for that development work. There are no long, expensive meetings. The plan is in place, and the people that will be doing the work already know what to do.
The downside to a process-centric approach is the limited flexibility. So, if someone needs some customized approach to Google Ads, like changing the ad text every week or reacting to news events, that’s not for us. We simply let those clients know that they need to find a client-centric agency instead.
Q. Your ‘Google Ads for Agencies’ division helps agencies such as website designers, marketing consultants, media buyers, and publishers provide their clients with a simple Google Ads service. Tell us more about this division.
We work with agencies as a white-label subcontractor doing the Google Ads work for them. It’s challenging to find employees that are proficient at Google Ads. So, for a digital agency that only has a handful of clients who want Google Ads, we fill that employee’s role for a fraction of the cost.
Most of the agencies we work with are website designers. They build the website but don’t know how to get quality traffic to the website, typically. We help these agencies turn those websites into money-making machines for their clients.
We offer discounted prices to agencies so they can mark-up our services and make a little money too. Many web design agencies have cash flow issues from month to month. One month they have five projects, the next month, there aren’t any projects. Our service helps them generate recurring monthly revenue, helping them with their feast or famine cash flow.
Q. What new endeavors is your company currently undertaking?
We just launched two new services. One is for SEO and one for Google Ads.
Our ‘SEO Jump Start’ service! This service is a 1-2 week SEO intensive on the website that is getting ready to launch. Many people don’t realize that creating a new website can destroy your existing page rankings. This service prevents the “Help me! I used to be on page one, but I just launched a new website, and now I am on page 10!”
Recruitment Ads! We work with a lot of service industries. They have two needs when growing a business—more customers and more employees to serve those customers. We’ve been helping them find more customers to the point that they have us pause the ads because they don’t have enough employees.
So, we started testing ‘job ads’ several months ago and found it works well. Unlike the job boards that deliver hundreds of unqualified resumes, our clients get a dozen or so qualified candidates.
The Phenomenal Leader Behind the Success of Third Marble Marketing
Chris Fawcett, Founder, is the President of Third Marble Marketing. Before starting Third Marble Marketing, he spent nine years at First STREET as their VP and COO of marketing. In 2005, Chris re-designed the company’s website and won one of the nationally coveted ‘Internet Retailer’s Top 50 Best of the Web’ Awards, joining the ranks of such online retailers as Best Buy and Amazon. Before joining First STREET, Mr. Fawcett spent three years as the Director of Marketing and E-commerce at J.Jill in Boston, MA, where he developed J.Jill’s first e-commerce website, generating over $80 million in its first year.
He started his marketing career with Comtrad in 1992 and helped launch its first website in 1995 (before Amazon.com sold its first book).
Chris proudly graduated from Virginia Tech with degrees in Operation Research and Industrial and Systems Engineering.