Data Stories: Leaders at Work is a bi-weekly podcast hosted by Rahul Jerome, founder of insight-intelligence.com and The Insight Network, co-organised by Audiense. The series captures personal anecdotes and career highlights from some of the most talented and brightest minds in the research and insights industry.
Our guest on this episode of the Data Stories: Leaders at Work podcast is Jason Barnard, Founder/CEO of Kalicube and SEO expert. Through his own experiences, he found out the importance of utilising Google as a business card and he now specialises in optimizing exact match brand SERPs (search engine results pages) for his clients using the Kalicube technology. A former teacher, he enjoys educating others in the space about SEO through a traditional marketing lens, including bringing their offline activities online.
The son of a college professor and a jazz musician, Jason has always had an interest in music and storytelling, and while he was getting his degree in economics, he was a part of a blues band. He then moved to Paris where he became a teacher and joined a punk-folk band. To be a part of this band, he had to learn the double bass in less than a month.
Jason had a very helpful lesson from the double bassist from another band who told him to focus on the rhythm of the music and not about what the people in the audience think. He was taught that forgetting about past mistakes frees you up to keep playing without fear or regret. The double bassist also told Jason that if you smile the whole time you’re playing, then people think you know what you’re doing. After producing 4 albums over the course of 8 years, that band split up and Jason and his wife began a new endeavor.
They wanted to publish a kids’ book with an accompanying soundtrack, but they were refused by every bookshop because apparently, kids’ content is a very closed world resistant to new entrants. In 1998, Jason and his wife began creating children’s cartoons that they published on the internet – two months before Google even launched. His wife created the characters and wrote the stories, while Jason wrote the songs and taught himself Macromedia flash with which he created videos and games for their site.
It wasn’t a perfect entrepreneurial journey, but Jason learned a lot about applying himself and accepting mistakes as a part of the process. Over time, Jason created 1,000 games for the site and he was able to see the impacts of those incremental improvements that came from not giving up.
With all of this experience doing his own thing on the Internet, Jason thought that he could be an SEO consultant from anywhere in the world – literally. He moved to Mauritius but found that the lack of reliable internet and his inability to take client meetings in person prohibitive for his business’ success. He also learned that as an employer it is best to find the right person for the business based on their work ethic and culture fit and then build a job around them, rather than trying to find the right person for an already-established job.
After this adventure in Mauritius, Jason moved back to Paris to continue his search engine marketing services company, this time with the advantage of being able to take in-person meetings. He found that he was doing well with lead generation, but after meeting with potential clients, about half of them would never call him back. He found out after a few months the reason for this drop-off: people didn’t take him seriously because when they Googled his name, all they found were his kids’ cartoons and games. They didn’t think that he knew what he was doing with SEO, so they didn’t want to trust him with their business.
At this point, Jason knew that he needed to dig into Google’s process and crack the code on getting his “Google business card” to show what he wanted it to. He came to realize that what Google thinks of you becomes the world’s opinion of you and that to have a positive and beneficial brand SERP, you have to change Google’s mind about what is important about you. Now Jason would describe himself as a traditional marketer specializing in brand SERPs for his clients.
Through his Kalicube.pro site, he provides the tools needed to track your own brand SERP, learn how to improve it, understand which social media platforms are trending in your industry, and dig into semantic SEO. This is an ever-changing world, so Jason is going to keep improving his platform as Google changes and shifts, providing the best possible service to his clients.
To the younger generation, Jason’s advice is to take control of your digital footprint, do the best you can to learn how Google understands and perceives things, and build your marketing strategy on that understanding.
The full version of the podcast with Jason Barnard can be listened here: