Today I am presenting another written interview with Rafi Chowdhury. Rafi is the founder & CEO of Chowdhury’s, co-founder of myCampusHacks, and is an experienced digital marketer and chess coach based in Memphis, Tennessee. He helps companies in Memphis grow their revenue by directing targeted visitors to their websites. A graduate of the University of Memphis, Rafi Chowdhury holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. He is the owner of numerous awards and accomplishments including, Shelby County Chess Co-Champion, winner of the Mid-South Psychology Conference, and has been ranked among the Top 100 best young chess players in the nation. He has appeared on the Commercial Appeal, ABC News, United States Chess Federation, and has recently been featured on The University of Memphis Magazine, Startup Dhaka, and numerous other blogs and magazines. Rafi is currently working as a Digital Marketing Specialist at Total Concept Graphics in Memphis and consults with other local businesses about their marketing campaigns.
Check out the interview:
1. What got you interested in digital marketing? Share your story.
I am an entrepreneur and digital marketing consultant from Memphis, Tennessee. I went to college at the University of Memphis and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2014. I then immediately started a venture where I was trying to develop an intelligent tutoring system which will coach students in the game of chess. It was a total flop because we could not find a good enough developer to build the software. I then launched Chowdhury’s Chess, where we were working with local schools and teaching students about leadership, entrepreneurship, and psychology using the game of chess. Around this same time, I launched a chocolate chess pieces business called Chowdhury’s Chcocolate Checkmates. Currently, I am involved with a project called myCampusHacks.com, which is a social networking site for college students that helps them navigate through their college career more efficiently. I am now in the process of officially launching my marketing/consulting company, Chowdhury’s Digital. Along with all of these projects, I also hold a full-time position at a signs and banners startup company, Eco Signs and Banners.
I have always been promoting my chess-related projects via social media, so I already had some understanding of how to reach people over the internet. But, I did not fully get into it until I launched my own website, www.rafichowdhury.com, as a personal portfolio and wanted to get traffic to it. When I got into that, I realized it’s a lot easier and I could make more money if I started doing this for existing businesses. That’s when I started reaching out to some local businesses and started working with a few of them on their internet marketing efforts. What got me interested is how easy the internet makes it for small businesses to reach the ideal customer.
2. How have you gone about finding new clients to work with for your business?
Craigslist, Facebook, referrals, my own website, etc. I hire virtual assistants to scrape craigslist for businesses which are looking for the services I provide, and then I send them an email asking for what they need help with in their business digitally. I also do content marketing to generate new leads via my blog. There is not one way I get the clients. It’s a combination of a lot of strategies I implement.
3. What are a few tools you use when it comes to Local SEO, what are your favorites?
Hmmm…not sure about what tools, but I focus on local directory submission, creating maps, optimizing the Google My Business page, and try to submit the business in as many local or niche directories as possible to increase citations volume. Other than that, I focus on including city and state with the page titles, blogging about local events, having a strong social media presence, and trying to earn links from credible local websites. Of course, I also do a lot of keyword competition analysis to figure out the best local keywords I could rank a business for.
4. How do you typically determine pricing for your services? Do you do all of the work yourself or do you outsource it?
Usually based on the number of hours it will take to finish and the level of expertise to do the job. I also look at other businesses and see how much they are charging for that same service and price myself accordingly. But, I always try to work with my client’s budget. My goal in this business is not to see how much money I can get out of them. My main focus is to try to help them and make some money in the process also for my time and expertise.
I do almost all of the marketing and consulting work myself since that’s what I do best. For web development and graphic design work, I work with several other companies who work closely with me and my clients to make sure the client receives exactly what he or she wants. Some of the services we provide are actually automated using software I bought.
5. What are your future plans for 2015 and beyond?
To keep getting better at SEO, online marketing, and getting traffic. My goal is to scale my marketing/consulting company into something a bit larger. Then, I want to slowly get into software and analytics products since that’s where the real value is nowadays since it’s a lot easier to scale those types of companies. But that’s still some time down the road. My eventual goal is to venture out of the web and technology and look into real estate and franchises, etc. Who knows!