Andy Seeley is the CEO of Creatively Disruptive, a “band of eCommerce superheroes with the only goal of taking our clients’ products and sales to a new level of amazing.” With a client base of small business owners, the company focuses on helping them get more customers so they can continue expanding their businesses.
At Creatively Disruptive, Andy Seeley leads his team in improving their clients’ e-commerce store marketing, local business marketing, and kids’ activity center marketing, among others. Among the many techniques the company uses to grow a client’s sales are Facebook Advertising, Google Ads, Google My Business, Web Design & Development, Email Marketing, and Reputation Management.
Throughout his career, Andy Seeley has found consistent success in leading a number of companies to achieve their goals. In the process, he has mastered sales and digital marketing. His work demonstrates and “redefines what it means to be a people-person, putting the best interests of everyone from individual team members to each client account at the forefront.” His work has also taken him everywhere, “from the retail spaces to the publishing world.”
In addition to his role as CEO of Creatively Disruptive, Andy Seeley also mentors other business owners and gives out “timely tips and tricks” on how to use Facebook Advertising to your advantage.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Andy Seeley: My degree is actually in sports science with a focus on team building. I am a New Zealander and moved to the USA in 1999. I have been in media for over 20 years, starting in TV and Radio as a Sales Director then Publisher of a Tourism media company that included Print, TV distribution in Hotels and Video Production. Because we intimately understand that behind every small business is a family with fears, limited resources, and challenges, but also big dreams and entrepreneurial spirit, we founded Creatively Disruptive.
From that, my desire to help small businesses compete in an ever-changing online landscape and empower them to new heights was born — allowing them to compete with the big corporate monsters. There is truly something very rewarding about helping a small family business hit goals they once thought of as unattainable dreams. I love it and have a burning passion for it! We are working hard to supercharge as many small businesses as digitally possible.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Andy Seeley: In 1999, I started life all over again at the tender age of 27 with a move to the USA, originally coaching Rugby in Chicago. That in itself was heavy lifting with no support or connections and starting fresh with a clean slate ahead of me. In 2008, I started my tourism media company three months before Lehman Brothers collapsed, sparking the world financial collapse and the great recession. At the same time, my wife, a fantastic Gymnastics Coach, ran a Gymnastics Gym we owned in small-town USA. Here I own two small family businesses when everything around us was falling apart. We quickly got into serious financial trouble, along with 80% of the rest of the world, or so it seemed. Worry took over which led to sleepless nights, and stress on my marriage seemed to be the norm for about four years. It was rough.
My wife’s Gymnastics Gym hadn’t made a penny for four years with her working 60–70 hours a week. However, our little media company had done well and had helped us survive and keep our home without much loss outside of our credit score nose-diving. In 2012, we sold the gym and expanded our media company to another area, and in 2015 sold our media company.
From 2009–11, we considered giving up and heading back to New Zealand with our tails between our legs,. Still, as an immigrant, I knew the opportunity we had in the USA and knew that with effort, right decisions, and smart strategy, everything was possible. Something that simply wouldn’t be possible back in NZ.
In a real way, Creatively Disruptive’s founding was based on those struggles and the feeling of being alone in the fight of our financial lives. I wanted to make sure Small Businesses were no longer alone, and Creatively Disruptive would be there for them fighting the good fight. That’s probably why we are bloody good at it; that’s why some have called us the Small Business Super Heroes.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Andy Seeley: I think the funniest mistake I’ve made — which I think is very common with small business entrepreneurs — is to totally kid myself that I would be a millionaire inside the 1st year of starting our 1st business. That I would do it on a “build it and they will come” strategy with no marketing or sales needed.
I quickly learned that there are two parts to any small business: Products/Services and Sales/Marketing. The two are equally as important as the other. Every successful business must have revenue and revenue drivers, and all revenue is derived from reliable products and services.
Jerome Knyszewski: Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Work on your business, not in it : Can you see the forest for the trees? When you are in the trenches during the day to day, you don’t know what needs development and don’t have time to develop. Learn to delegate to the awesome team you are going to build. That will allow you to do the one thing ONLY you can do. Build your own business. Be the captain of your ship, not the crew.
- Develop a culture: Develop a culture that fits your industry and fits your mission. Your culture should inspire your team and guide them in making their decisions. Your culture is the day to day living embodiment of your mission statement and a driver for your vision statement. To me, it’s the soul of what and how we operate.
- Develop your team: Be the dumbest person in the room when you are having staff meetings. Refine and develop your hiring and recruiting skills and methodology. Hire people based on character, not skills. Then help them find the work they love; this will help them find their genius, producing an exceptional work quality. Support, develop, and care for them, and they will do the same for your company and your clients.
- Know your “WHY”: This is key to finding your culture; it’s the soul of your company and a great guide to almost all decisions. Why are you in business? Why should your employees care? Why should they be inspired? Why should your clients care? Why do your clients buy? These are usually distilled down to 1 or 2 sentences that can always be referred to when making moves, changes, and decisions. “By doing this, are we in alignment with our Why?”
- Love your Team and Love your clients: Treat your staff well. In a real sense, your team IS your company. They are the working parts of your business; they produce your products, sell your products, run your processes, deliver your services, they operate your business day-to-day. This allows you to focus on building, growing, and developing your business. This is key to rising to greatness. Your company should love your clients and develop the relationship you have with them like you would any important relationships in your life. Take it seriously; they pay the bills.
Jerome Knyszewski: Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose-driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
Andy Seeley: Purpose-driven businesses inspire to things greater than themselves. This, in turn, inspires staff and encourages customers to do business. Think TOMS shoes. People buy TOMS regularly because they support the cause of giving shoes to people that need them. But you can also take it deeper and adapt your culture to your purpose. For example, we have purposefully developed our business around the treatment and care of the people we are involved with, from clients to employees to organizations or charities we support. We work from the place of working with Good Companies that do good things run by good people. It is in a real sense a litmus test that we apply to everything we do. It’s our way of improving our little part of the world.
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience, what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Andy Seeley: Target people that are most likely to convert. Using the power of online marketing and the amazing algorithmic technology available to us. It’s never been as easy to find people most likely to buy from us.
Help the client understand their problems/issues/pain. Help them find how those problems/issues/pain affect them personally. Show the client you know them and care about them. Show them the solution to their problems/issues/pain. Then how the solving of their problems/issues/pain makes their life better. Remember why a client purchases a product or service and focuses on that and not the product or service. IE you buy a winter coat not to buy a coat but to keep warm and comfortable. The coat solves the problem/issue/pain, and life is better with it.
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Andy Seeley: It might sound stupid, but to behave in a way that your clients love and develops trust — putting people 1st, even in a digital age. Make it a real thing, be authentic don’t fake it. Deliver on your promises and make sure expectations are set well, so promises are kept.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Andy Seeley: Follow our company FB and Instagram pages and Youtube channel, Creatively Disruptive.
Connect with Creatively Disruptive on Linkedin. Personally, you can follow me on twitter @AndyDisruption. You can check our website at www.CreativelyDisruptive.com.
If you run a Kids Activity Center or Restaurant you can join our groups at The Gymnastics Marketing Group and the Restaurant Marketing Group
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!