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Balancing Automation and Authenticity in Digital Marketing: Insights from an Industry Expert

In Conversation with Ronald Osborne

For this episode of E- coffee with exports,Ranmay Rath interviewed Ronald Osborne, Founder of Osborne Digital Marketing. Ronald shares his journey from the military to multimillion-dollar ventures. He delves into the intricate world of SEO, emphasizing the importance of automation and personal branding while navigating international markets. Discover Osborne’s pragmatic insights into building successful businesses, mastering search engine algorithms, and achieving a seamless balance between AI and the human touch in marketing strategies.

Watch the episode now for more insights!

Testing is essential to understand what works and what doesn’t in SEO.

Ronald Osborne
Founder of Osborne Digital Marketing

Hi, everyone. Welcome to your show, E-Coffee with Experts. My name is Ranmay and today we have Ronald Osborne who is the founder of Osborne Digital Marketing with us. Welcome, Ronald, to our show.

Thanks for having me, Ranmay. I appreciate paying you a mind.

Great. Ronald, before we move forward and pick your brains, why don’t you mention your journey this far and what is Osborne Digital marketing all about, How do you start? Where are you right now? What are your core offerings? We’ll take it forward from there.

All right. I’ll try and make a long story very short. I started my background in left school and wanted to be in the military. My uncle, father, Special Forces. That was my aspiration. I joined the military and went in as the infantry. Turned out I was good with comms equipment, so I got selected to go through a challenging course and I got involved in that. There were three positions available for it, an extra nine and a half grand a year at paid. Very luckily, I was selected and went through. From there, I learned all about comms equipment and telecommunications equipment. During that process, we were gearing up to go overseas, and unfortunately, I was injured. From there, that stopped me from going overseas and the army gave me the option of you can either being discharged with benefits and you’ll look after me to get into a new field or you become a pay clerk. I was like, Get me out of here. That’s where I started to learn website development and telecommunications outside. I picked up telecommunications. I was very fortunate there. I started winning some massive contracts with some of the really big telcos in Australia. I had 27 employees, a multiple-million-dollar organization, and it was going gangbusters for years and years.

Then when I slowed that down and got out of that business, I made the transition into SEO and digital marketing. I always had a company in the background building websites. I was making like five grand a month, 10 grand a month, to be honest. That was nothing at that time when I was earning. That was pennies, so it wasn’t a focus of mine. From there, once I transitioned out of the telecom company, though, which was called Twex, I thought, What don’t I pick this up? I picked up that venture and I started to continue with websites and SEO. That’s pretty much how I got into SEO and into the path I’m in now. Essentially, what I do now is more local SEO, but I do it a little bit differently. I work predominantly as a business consultant because it’s my honest belief that with individuals, it’s not enough just to get their website ranking. I want to be able to come in there and help them fine-tune their sales process. I want to be able to come in there and say, We need to do this and spend money on this because it’s going to make us a lot more money.

A lot of business owners don’t have those concepts and they’re not sometimes willing or even aware of how to improve the operations. I love doing that stuff. So right now I do local SEO with my marketing agency, but as my consulting company as well, essentially I do everything. I step in and help organizations and I try to partner with companies. So right now I’m actually in a business partnership with nine organizations across the globe. So yeah, that’s quite hectic. That’s what I do, mate. It’s a bit of a mess, but I enjoy it. I enjoy the chaos.

But for an ex-army man, it must be a cakewalk, I must say.

Yeah, you get a lot of money to get shot at. I recommend it.

Correct. Ronald, you have taken businesses from small startups to multimillion-dollar companies with large teams. Can you walk us through strategic milestones or pivotal moments that played a crucial role in this journey, particularly when it comes to scaling up teams or departments or your organization as a whole?

For me, it was insanely challenging. When I had the breakthrough, I still remember the first day I hit a million dollars. It was always my aspiration by the time I was 25 to make a million dollars a year. I remembered the day I made a million dollars. It was honestly the most depressing moment of my life. Because I was on my couch alone and then I got the notification from the accountant, Congratulations, Ron. You’ve hit that milestone of a million dollars. I was like, This sucks. There was no one around me at the time. I was all by myself. I’m like, It wasn’t all about the money. It was actually about building up a company and having an awesome set of guys, the army mentality. What I’ve found when it comes to organizations is trying to scale them up. It’s all about the team. You have to make sure that you have an awesome team in place that you reward for success, and essentially you punish for failures. I think it’s just human nature that we are enticed by achievement and we’re a little bit fearful of failure. You need to make sure when you are developing and creating an organization that you are serving both hands is how I look at it.

You’ve got to make sure that there’s always a teacher-student relationship. This is something that I talk about with a lot of small organizations that have three or four people who are just making a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year. The biggest thing is they’re in a challenging spot because they need to get bigger, but they need to pull themselves out of the organization to be able to look at the whole process and the whole journey. But how do you do that when no one can do what you do as well as you? That’s why the student-teacher relationship is what I call it. It’s very important that during every aspect of growth, you have an individual who’s essentially an understudy. In every single position, there should be an understudy and a teacher. It’ll just be a natural progression that everyone throughout the organization can move up a spot. Then you have complete and utter cohesion throughout the organization because most people understand each other’s roles, especially if it’s at three to five team members trying to get to 15 guys. That’s the best way I focus on the team.

Then you started your business without any outside help or capital. What are the most significant challenges you faced during the early stages? Starting at the bootstrap organization. How did you overcome them and create two such business ventures out of it? That’s a great question.

A lot of nervous nights.

When i got started I think I had eight grand left in the bank that I’d saved up through my time serving with the army. From there, essentially, the way I approached it was that I wanted to make sure that I could live on pennies because I didn’t know how it was going to go. I had a belief in my heart that I could make good dollars in telecom, but I didn’t know. I’d never done it myself. I just got my vehicle. It was like me and a van. That was it. Yeah, it was quite stressful. But the first week I made three and a half thousand dollars and I was like, Oh, all I need to do is work hard. I just gave up my Saturdays and Sundays for it was six months. That’s as long as the girlfriend I had at the time could handle. She was like, No, you need to have weekends. I started taking Tuesdays off and then still working Saturdays and Sundays because I got paid 15% more or 10% more, whatever it was back then. I loved it, mate. I saw the opportunity. Army taught me that there are opportunities of fleeting, so go after them.

That’s what I did. That venture, that six months, I had a lot of capital. Then I got two employees. The guy I served with the army and my brother. They were the first two employees that I had, and then it just grew from there. It was just constant. I’d turn around, there was a new contract come in. Turn around, there’s another one coming in. It just got bananas in the end. But that’s how I took it. It was honestly just hard work and raising that money myself and trying to be very conscious of what I was spending the business capital on. I’ve got no qualms with spending money. I think everyone should spend money if they’re in the business of making money. You have to spend money to make money. It’s how it goes. I do think that organizations shouldn’t be frightened of that. But if you want to bootstrap yourself, you have to work your ass off. You have to do that.

Absolutely, can relate to that. Also in digital marketing, you guys operate internationally, serving clients in the United States, Australia, and the UA. How do you navigate these unique challenges and opportunities of working with businesses across different geographical regions? What advice would you give to burdened entrepreneurs who are looking to spread their arms and get into an international space where they have clients from multiple countries?

That’s a great question. It can be very challenging. I’m back in Australia right now. It’s 8:30 at night for me, and that’s the game I play. It can be very challenging working with individuals who are located in different parts of the world, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because I think there will be points that you grow to as an individual that won’t satisfy you, especially if you’re an ambitious individual. You will still be like, What’s the next thing? Me, I look at it and go, I’ve built a multimillion-dollar company in Australia. Australia is a tick for me. What’s the next logical challenge? Can I do that outside of Australia? Can I do that around the globe? Let’s give it a crack. I’ve been at it now, and it’s the hardest thing. Honestly, I thought telecom was hard. International is extremely challenging because what an individual in Australia would like is completely different from an American. It’s bananas. I’ve lost so many American clients just from small little things that an Aussie would have never fussed over. That was a real culture shock to me. My advice would be, if you’re going to be working with individuals in different locations like the UAE, they don’t care, mate.

If they find me, I can roll in there and I can say, I want $15,000 for this project. I’m fine. No worries. Okay. If I try and do that in the States, it needs to be justified to the letter. Every single thing needs to be itemized. In Australia, it’s, Yeah, all right, Ronnie, go for it, mate. That makes sense. If you are going to work in different locations around the globe, make sure you understand the culture that you’re operating in. That was something that was a bit of a shock to me and the biggest hurdle I’ve had to overcome. The Culture Map is a great book to read that can help break down the structures, especially if your team is operating in different parts of the world as well. That’s a very important structure because a lot of my team, they’re in the Philippines, they’re in Thailand, they were in Ukraine. You have individuals in different locations. You have to understand what motivates them and how they’ll operate. Understanding different cultures is a must if you want to work internationally.

Absolutely. Very well said. It goes and helps you a lot in terms of not only cracking the big deals but also delivering the appropriate solutions if you are operating in multiple regions. Because an American will speak a different language when it comes to business versus an Australian, and versus someone who is in the UAE or the UK, people are really direct and are up to the mark. Yeah, to the point, Ronald. Very well said. You need to learn their culture to be successful and build a good brand size in that particular geographical territory. In digital marketing, the world has been taken up by this storm, AI and machine learning and automation tools, and they’re real prominence as we speak. What is your piece of advice to business owners to effectively integrate automation into their marketing efforts without losing that personal touch or the human touch and authenticity that customers value?

That’s a great question. That’s another great question. I think automation is a must. I think if you’re not jumping on that train, you’re a madman or madman like you’re missing out on a lot. Because a big thing for me is why not try to make your life easier? Because if you have more time, you can spend it with the kids, you can muck around with the misses, you can do whatever you want if you have more time, and that’s where automation can come in. But you want to make sure you’re not losing the personal touch. That’s why I nowadays actually lean more towards personal branding compared to a big company-type structure because I think as we get more and more associated with AI, everyone’s just going to be screaming for that personal touch. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t utilize automation in the background. When someone fills out your lead form, then everything in the background is done through automation. They get sent through that sales funnel, they get pushed these emails. That type of automation, I think, is really good. Creating content, specifically supporting content, is brilliant. Use automation. I’ve cut down our content expenses by thousands of dollars because of ChatGPT.

We have said ChatGPT alone has realistically removed probably, what you’d say, maybe a couple of grand, three grand at least of content. That’s gone now from the content market space. The content creators are gone. That’s just from me alone. Use AI and automation to help create content, and get more of it out there.

Absolutely. You also touched upon personal branding, which is from an entrepreneur’s perspective, it is so important. While the big brands already have it or have created it over some time, as per you, how can small business owners establish and maintain a strong personal brand on their brand? How does this, as per you, contribute to their overall success?

I think the best way to build a personal brand is by showing a bit of results. I can stand there and pull out my business books and be like, Hey, look at all those zeros behind numbers there. I’m able to do that. I think a lot of people get it wrong when they don’t have that behind them. Specifically, I’ll talk about the business, coaching, and consulting space right now because there are a lot of people out there that I’ve ever chatted to and never had a business. I just don’t understand how you can talk about trying to be a business coach when you’ve never even had a company. Now, I’m never going to say work with me if you want a $15 million company, because I’ve never had a $15 million company. I will straight up say, I can’t do that. When it comes to an individual that is trying to brand themselves, I think reputation is an absolute must. You should go out there. You should build up that reputation first, and then that way your life becomes a lot easier when it comes to marketing yourself. This interview right now, mate, you guys reached out to me because you’ve seen my stuff, you’ve seen my presence.

That’s how it works. That’s the beauty of having a solid reputation behind you. Everything just slots into place.

Yeah, absolutely. Some time back, one of the best-sending online video tutorials for building a highly scalable digital agency was done by this bloke, who never really owned the digital agency himself. He gave up all the tricks that you can think of from these online tools and stuff. It was one of the best-selling materials then. He brought in millions just by putting in what was there on the internet and never the digital agency himself. I was like, Dude, how he is going to tell you about the operational challenges, about all that nitty-gritty that goes into the life of an agency owner or an agency ops guy? That’s how it is. You have to be authentic to be selling in the long run.


Great. I know you are so much into SEO. Let’s wrap this up with a question about SEO. Seo is always known for its long-term benefits, but it is also a field that comes with constant algorithm updates from our search engines. Let’s take Google, for example. How do you develop SEO strategies that are born digital that adopt a search engine algorithm challenge and what key ranking factors do you prioritize?

That’s another great question. I think it’s very important that you be a part of a testing group. By hand on my heart, I’m a part of Chris Palmer’s testing group and Craig’s. But Chris Palmer, a good mate of mine, pushes the button when it comes to SEO testing. I think if you want to build a successful agency, you need to understand what’s going to move the needle. As an example, for me, I’m not going to be able to perform the sheer volume of tests that Chris is pushing out. Then when I meet him every week, I’m able to sit there and be like, Oh, that doesn’t work. I’ve been spending thousands of dollars on this a month and it doesn’t work. I think if someone’s trying to stay ahead and develop awesome SEO processes and procedures, you’ve got to have some testing. Whether that’s Kyle Roos group, what is internet marketing gold, like you guys as well, mate, if you guys are pushing testing, try to put it out there. People should be trying to get in and understand what works. Because like you’re saying, Google Changes, what was that? Maybe eight months ago, AI content worked every time.

Now, if it’s not structured appropriately, she gets smacked. That’s the thing. The only way you’ll know that is either by a test being run or your website getting hit and you’re like, What’s happened? What’s happened? What’s going wrong? I think it’s very important to do testing, and from that testing, create your processes and procedures so your team knows what links to build, and what content to write.

Absolutely. Ronald, I cannot thank you enough for taking your time and doing this with us. But before we let you go, I want to be a quick rapid-fire with you. I hope you’re game for it.

Yeah, man, go for it.

All right, your favorite book?

That’s a great question. I would have to probably say Built to Sell. Built to Sell is a really good book to understand how you should go about structuring an organization and meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Two of them were there.

Okay. Your last Google search. You can check your system if you want to. This is an open book.

I think chiropractor, Mornington, because I’ve just landed or am in the process of negotiating with a mate who’s expanding his offices. I was probably a chiropractor, Melbourne, Mornington, Peninsula, and chiropractor. It was one of them, man. One of them.

Okay, so let’s turn the clock back. Let’s go back to your army days. What was your best day when you were with the army?

Best day I was in the army.

The questions were easy around SEO and organizations.

Yeah, they were actually. Honestly, when I got to my unit and I met the best day I would have to say was when I came, as funny as this is going to sound, when we came into the lunchroom. I, like I said before, family background in the military. Going in, I knew that they were going to give you a lot. The boys are going to give you a lot and they’re going to try and break you up. Because they want to find out who the weaklings are. If people are shooting at you, you want to know that you can rely on the guy next to you. As soon as we went in there the guy started giving it to all of us. There were four new blokes. We’ve walked in there and they’ve just been giving it to us. I remember the guy that was giving it to us, him and I, I handled it well, I would like to think. Now he and I are very good friends. We’re best friends, absolute best friends. I would have to say that was probably the best moment in the army when I got to go in and meet the guys for the first time and see it in action then what transpired from that moment.

Great. Lovely story. The last question, we will not grill you any further. Let’s say if we were to make a movie on you, what genre would it be?

I don’t know. Probably comedy, man. I’m Australian, bro. Is there any other type?

I thought you were a typical action-backed comedy movie which is just full of action.

Action-comedy probably played by Adam Sandler, I reckon.

Lovely, Donald. Thank you so much for taking the time and doing this podcast with us. I’m sure our audiences would have benefited a lot from what they heard from you. I appreciate your time, man.

Thanks, Ranmay. I appreciate that, mate. Thanks for having me on.



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