Brisbane Digital Spotlight is a blog series that aims to shine light on the exceptional talent within the city’s digital community. With each post, I uncover a devoted individual within my network who I’ve recognised to be deeply engaged in the digital industry. Whether it be a Digital Marketer, a Developer, a Co-founder, a Project Manager, or even a Recruiter – my goal is to highlight the work these remarkable individuals do; day in, day out.
Gerard is no stranger to the Brisbane digital landscape.
After starting several ventures, he’s taken this experience and shared it with other founders looking to scale their brands.
Gerard works alongside some of Brisbane’s best startups to understand their unique business propositions. He then tailors the most valuable solution to engage target audiences across a suite of digital channels.
He’s also the host of the Fractal Marketing Podcast – a weekly series that aims to share actionable insights with startup founders.
Keep reading as I uncover more about Gerard’s experience, his strategies for early-stage brands, and his predictions for the Brisbane startup landscape.
Tell us about your background. How did you land in the digital space?
In digital marketing years, I’m pretty damn old 😉 so my experience pre-dates Google.
Back in 1997, I was discovering the Internet in the UQ business computer labs and somehow (I assume an ad) I ended up signing up to a multi-level ‘paid to surf’ company called AllAdvantage.
Essentially you’d run a frame on your browser (Netscape Navigator at the time) and you’d earn a cut on the CPM that banner advertisers were paying.
Given that eCPMs were hitting around $40 for general traffic at the time, you could actually make some money.
So my first USD$20 cheque was earnt that same month and, well, I wanted more.
Enter the multi-level part, I could earn 10% of someone else’s revenue by referring them. So I did and made an extra $2.
Naturally, I signed up more friends and then starting making those tear-off A4 signs that were so popular on a university campus in the 90’s.
But that was a quick hit, not a strategy, I needed more referrals, so I discovered SEM.
I submitted my site to Yahoo.com and became the 3rd ranked site for the industry.
In 1997 Yahoo sorted categories alphabetically, so being called ‘Cash Generators’ (i.e. starting with a ‘C’ listed my website higher. Coincidentally, this was one of the reasons Jeff Bezos liked the name Amazon, it started with an A.
$2,000/month later I was all in, optimizing for SEO on Excite and Looksmart while buying PPC ads on Goto. At one stage I was the top PPC advertiser on terms like ‘make money’ and ‘get rich’.
I ended up creating a 20,000 person downstream and was interviewed by the Australian Newspaper and PC Magazine.
Tell us about Fractal and the exciting projects you work across.
So Fractal is my personal consulting agency where I work with Founders on their market position and help find their first customers.
I ultimately help founders build scalable marketing engines so they can run it themselves or hire in the right marketing skills.
My personal favourite project is my podcast, where I have open and honest chats with founders about how they are marketing their startup.
But when you have interesting clients, the work is always fun. Some of the current projects include:
What advice do you have for startups/founders looking to create a digital marketing strategy?
My first love is and was SEM, but Facebook is the best friend for startup marketing.
With Facebook, you can test your messages and audience with amazing accuracy.
Facebook empowers you to find a niche market and win your first customers.
Are there any notable trends emerging across the digital marketing landscape?
I’ve been advising founders that an email address is becoming a powerful tool for retargeting across ad networks more so than it is for actually sending emails.
An email is a blunt marketing tool (read me now), often not reaching someone when they have the time to read it.
By contrast, targeting an email address on Facebook (through customer audiences) creates an ad impression at the exact moment a potential customer is open to new information.
How do you see the Brisbane startup landscape evolving over the next few years?
More of a hope than a prediction, but I would like to see a few Brisbane-based startups have decent exits and complete the cycle by feeding attention, investor returns, experience, and money back into the ecosystem.
You can see what Canva and Atlassian have been able to contribute even before an exit in Australia. In the US, the ‘PayPal Mafia’ and similar groups from Google, Facebook etc have had a huge impact on their local startup ecosystems.
We need this in Brisbane or we’ll struggle to continue.
Finally, what are some of your favourite things to do in sunny Brisbane when you’re not at work?
We don’t have daylight savings in Brisbane (that’s another story), so I’ve found myself becoming more of a morning person. The early morning walk with a podcast or Spotify is about the best way to start my day.
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I’m a twenty-three-year-old Digital Marketing & Conversions Specialist based in Brisbane, Australia. With a passion for all things digital and tech, I aim to connect and learn from as many like-minded digital enthusiasts as possible. If you have a passion for emerging technologies and digital practices, I’d love to connect and hear your story.