Why I Started JRNY Digital

JRNY (or pronounced “journey”) is an act of traveling from one place to another.


On the 7th April, 2020, I embarked on an adventure to start a digital marketing agency called JRNY Digital. Funnily enough, I probably could’ve picked a better time to do it given all the issues going on with Covid-19.


Anyway, the point of this post is to provide some clarity into why I started JRNY Digital and what I’m trying to achieve with it. To be honest, I’m no expert in writing or blogging but I thought writing would be a great way to serve as a little reminder of why I’m doing this in the first place. So, if you’re part of the small group of people that would even remotely care about this, here’s a little insight into why I started this marketing agency…



Why I Decided To Start A Marketing Agency


Cliche answer: I want to partner with business owners who genuinely need help and get them to where they want to be.


Real answer: No… that’s actually the real answer.


As cliche as it sounds, I’ve always wanted to help people and start my own business. However, what sparked the decision to build a digital marketing agency was a couple of small inter-related events.


For context, I had been in the marketing industry for several years, having experience working both client-side and agency-side. The pandemic had just hit Australia and businesses were starting to feel the struggle. I was also stood down from my job at a marketing agency and didn’t know what to do.


Around the same time, my dad who owns his own tiling company in Brisbane was getting non-stop phone calls from random marketing agencies trying to sell him services. The problem is, my dad comes from Vietnam and although his English is pretty good, he didn’t understand what digital marketing was.


He would hear these so-called experts telling him “send us a couple thousand dollars for SEO and you’ll get ranked no. 1 on Google next month and get more customers — GUARANTEED


Marketing agencies were blatantly lying to him and promising him the dream.


Obviously, to any somewhat experienced marketer out there, it’s pretty common knowledge this was a lie as SEO takes time to work.


Like, come on… let’s take it down a notch.


But the point of this was I realised how dishonest the marketing industry can be at times.


The problem I see in digital marketing (especially marketing agencies) is they try to make it seem so unnecessarily complex that business owners don’t want to deal with it.


Or they explain things with marketing jargon and use vanity metrics to justify their results.


It’s even worse when they set unrealistic expectations on what is achievable to bait business owners into signing the dotted line.


Too much talk and not enough genuine care for the clients they work with.


It gives us marketers a bad rep.


Yes, there are hundreds of marketing agencies out there… but how many of them genuinely care for their clients and provide total honesty, transparency and results?


Especially when you consider the fact that these aren’t just businesses.


These are people with families and kids they need to support.


It’s not a game — it’s their livelihood.


So, after some research asking friends, family and colleagues who worked at other agencies, I realized it wasn’t that uncommon for these traits to be found in marketing agencies:


Common traits of some marketing agencies

  • “Fast-paced environment” aka —taking on too many clients and constant burnout for employees

  • Over-promising and under-delivering results for clients

  • Lack of honesty, transparency in terms of what is being done for clients

  • Too much focus on vanity metrics

  • Not enough time spent on each client

Look, I’m not saying that all marketing agencies are bad. There are many digital marketing agencies that I know of who do some amazing work and take the care of all their clients.


But… I do believe they are a bit of a rare breed.


And, given my close attachment to my dad and his business, I felt the need (almost an obligation) to provide the same service to other small business owners.


So, after a few coffees, a 30-page business plan and a lot of logo concepts, JRNY Digital was born.


But, Why JRNY?


I wanted a name that captured the essence of what the marketing agency stood for.


Partner with business owners to help them get to their desired destination.


To join business owners on their journey to growth.


That’s when we landed on the name “Journey”.


Unfortunately, the name “Journey” was taken so I had to settle for JRNY (basically journey with no vowels).


For those that were confused, yes, it stands for a word. And no, it is not somehow related to New York.


After some back and fourth, we ultimately mapped out what type of company culture we wanted to build…


Company Culture:


We help businesses get a positive return on investment for their marketing spend without the cheap sales tactics and cringy war references. Unlike your typical digital marketing agency — JRNY Digital partners with you and joins you on your journey to growth. We’re not a ‘blood-sucking fire breathing direct response digital marketing agency ready to skyrocket sales without spending any dollars in advertising. Yes, we specialise in getting businesses a return on investment. But let’s stop with the idea that we need to grow as fast as possible and “kill” the competition. We’re human, we’re real and we care about our clients. We’re not saving lives and we don’t pretend to. We do good business with good people — that’s our motto.


To add to this, we also came up with 3 pillars that underpin JRNY:


Honesty. Transparency. Results.


What we want to do is create an environment where we’re an extension of someone else’s business that they know completely what is going on with their campaign.


An agency you can trust 100% and know everything being done is in the best interest for the business.


But also, an agency that is completely honest and transparent internally as well.


If I’ve learnt anything from the whole work-from-home Covid-19 phase, it’s that the old 9–5 model doesn’t necessarily get the best from your employees.


No office red-tape.


No micro-managing employees.


We want to empower our team members to get the best out of them and provide the best service to our clients.


That means:

  • No taking on too many clients we can’t handle

  • No over-promising and under-delivering

  • No clock in your 40 hours a week or else

I believe that to provide the best service to clients, you need to provide an environment where your team members to flourish.


What I’m Trying To Achieve


I don’t think there is an arbitrary revenue goal or client count that I’m trying to achieve.


Obviously, to be in business we need to be profitable and sustainable long term.


However, I’m genuinely trying to just help as many business owners as I can and also create something that I enjoy and love to work in.


To do good business with good people — and also have an amazing time doing it.


If I can build a company culture that enables employees and everyone involved to be the best they can be, and also help as many business owners achieve their goals, then that will be my goal complete.


Yes, it would be cool to work with the biggest brands and companies in the world with their digital marketing or even hit $10 million in revenue one day.


But to be honest, I don’t think any of it matters.


If I can create a positive impact for even a tiny amount of small business owners out there and make a difference in their lives, I think that’ll be more fulfilling than hitting some random number on a profit/loss statement.


Summary


I started JRNY Digital because I felt the need to supply an honest and transparent service to those who need it.


It’s been about 3 months now since we’ve started the agency and we’re already on track to hit the 6-figure revenue mark by the end of the year.


Our growth has been pretty good so far and we’re consistently gaining traction as time goes on.


In saying that, we’re not trying to grow super fast — we’re just trying to create something worthwhile.

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