Some of you have already heard, but effective immediately, I am taking a sabbatical from Apogee Search.
The economic seas for the last year or so have been quite rough, and the Apogee Search ship was buffeted along with most companies. Going into this recession, the search marketing industry was rather arrogant. “We’re the trackable part of marketing,” we all said. “No one is going to cut back on us.”
Unfortunately, one of the greatest strengths of search marketing (the ability to turn it up and down as needed), turned out to be an industry weakness in a recession.
Imagine you’re a marketing VP or director, and your CEO tells you that you need to cut your budget by 30% immediately. Many of your advertising buys, such as print, television, or display, are tied to long term contracts with minimum buying level guarantees. And head count is both personal and a small number when compared to media costs in any case. Search on the other hand, can be turned back as needed.
Which one do you cut back on first?
That’s what Apogee Search saw in the fourth quarter of last year. Current clients dialed back on their budgets, while both sales and cash cycles lengthened significantly. The resulting perfect storm sunk many ships in the search marketing industry, and certainly caused Apogee Search to take on water.
The first quarter of this year was spent repairing sails, ensuring the soundness of the hull, and bailing water out of the boat. The good news is that money is returning to search marketing as other advertising contracts expire, and due to the hard work of its team, it is clear that Apogee Search has weathered the economic storm and returned to growth mode.
Another thing that has become clear over the last month or so is just how burned out I am. Between Apogee Search and its predecessor Leads Customers Growth, I have been in the agency game for over seven years. Remaining at Apogee when so burned out is not fair to the company, to its employees and its clients, or to myself.
As I am confident that Apogee Search is back on it’s feet, I can give in to what looks disturbingly like a mid-life crisis. (Note: the MINI Cooper is unrelated to this, dammit!)
Fortunately, selling the house last month and my amazing wife allow me the opportunity to take some time to work things out. Unfortunately, now I have to decide what I want to do when I grow up. I’ll be bouncing around a lot of ideas over the coming weeks, and would love to hear from any of you.
To my teammates at Apogee Search, I’ll miss seeing you every day, but I’ll still be around!