I’m proud of my professional history and have outlined the experiences that have shaped my career. This page serves as means of telling “my side of the story” as I have never explained my career history in this manner. I tell the entire story from Avantext (1997) all the way through my current role at Crimson Agility (2023).
I was fortunate to find a role early in my career where I could learn advanced marketing techniques in a real-world environment. In 1997 a friend called me excited about a new opportunity he had landed at a software company. He wanted me to join him and told me “you will learn computers and never look back”.
My first professional role was a Business Development Representation (BDR) making phone calls to remind aircraft repair facilities to renew their CD-ROM subscriptions.
Avantext offered a CD-ROM subscription service that was unique to the aviation industry, sending digitized documents from the FAA to mechanics that needed the latest service bulletins to service their aircraft. The company was located in my hometown of Reading, PA, and landing a seat at the growing company was a big deal.
As I was making phone calls, I noticed the desktop computer I was using had a licensed version of Adobe Photoshop. I located the tutorials and began teaching myself the basics of the application and within two months’ time, I was creating graphics that caught the eye of the CEO and was immediately promoted to the marketing department as a marketing assistant.
From that point forward I would be responsible for CD-ROM packaging, magazine ads, tradeshow booth graphics, website graphics, and a lot of direct mailers. If it had the company logo or a graphic, I was now responsible for the production.
Avantext is where I learned the basics of marketing and business graphic design. Because I did not have a formal college education, I felt I need to compensate by spending my personal time learning about design concepts, page layouts, and the psychology of how people process different types of content.
I was in a constant state of developing my professional skills, attending traditional artwork classes to learn more about shading and illustration, and taking on business grammar courses to hone my copywriting skills. I was doing everything I could to ramp up my design and business communication skills.
The owner of the company took a special interest in me and sent me to Dale Carnegie’s 12-week course on “How to Win Friends and Influence People“. This would be the start of a professional development journey that still continues today.
As an aviation-based service provider, September 11th had a huge impact on the industry forcing the company to react in ways that none of us would have considered at the time. Taking things into perspective, Avantext was an amazing experience that I still draw upon today and something that not only helped shape my career but also numerous others who are now leaders in their respective industries.
During my time at Avantext, I had the opportunity to help many of my friends get a start in their careers. One of them was a long-time friend named Damon Williams (not the actor), who had managed the intranet at Avantext and was now looking for his next venture. Together we started Pagoda Media which would be the first agency in our area to offer both print design and website development within the same team.
Pagoda Media was a collective of the best graphic designers, illustrators, developers, and digital marketing consultants in my local area at the time. Our team was known for producing flash animation websites that had music, wild graphics, and online store components. This was a graphic-heavy era of website design and it was amazing to be producing websites during this time.
Logo design and branding were our specialties and a highlight from this era was developing the Hedonism beer packaging for Legacy Brewing Company, helping them create a national stir over the design and graphics on the package. We helped the company go viral before “going viral” was a household term.
During my time at Pagoda Media, I was actively mentoring new designers and developers to the point where I was asked by Penn State College to participate in panel discussions where I would provide advice to aspiring digital marketing students looking to start their own businesses. You can watch the video of myself and Carolyn Helms from Bell Tower Salon Spa providing our advice at Penn State College’s entrepreneurial mentorship program.
Pagoda Media helped me develop the project management and soft skills that I still use today. We were efficient working as a remote team and figured out early on that remote work can be far more productive than office life.
In 2008, my business partner and I were faced with a decision in that we wanted to go in different directions with the company. We decided to part ways and I continued to run the business under my own name (BMull Consulting) providing services to the previous clients of Pagoda Media. It was always our agreement that if we stopped working together, the company would no longer be an entity and both of us held true to this arrangement.
From 2009 until 2011 I ran the Pagoda Media book of business under the name of “BMull Consulting”. This was at the start of the recession and I had identified the shift in clients asking for paid search and digital marketing instead of website design exclusively.
This would be the time in my career when I would begin to focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as clients already had great-looking websites and needed to drive traffic and have it convert. It was a whole new era of internet marketing.
Up until this point, I never felt the need to have a formal office but I noticed another shift in local SEO and that was Google favoring service businesses with physical locations. Even through I could work from my house and the economy was in a recession and my colleagues were closing their offices, I decided to move forward with opening my office in the Goggle Works complex in downtown Reading, PA.
Working in a building that favored traditional arts only helped strengthen my digital marketing business. I began creating websites for the artists that rented space in the building, showing them how to list products on Etsy and build their own online presence.
As time moved forward I would start to lose big projects to agencies that had in-house teams. The remote workplace movement had not happened and businesses at the time viewed agencies with in-house dev teams as an advantage. I myself was yearning to work with larger brands as I had done well in the small business arena and was making a great living providing digital marketing services.
I was faced with a decision. It was to build an agency of my own or join an existing team that was already on the rise. In May of 2011, I sold BMull Consulting to a competing firm in Lancaster, PA called Web Talent Marketing (now WTM Digital).
At the time Web Talent Marketing was owned and operated by Oliver Feakins and Mike Canarelli and the two were taking over the eastern PA digital marketing scene. The two owners were intrigued about how I managed my website production process and wanted to learn more about my own SEO processes. We would work together to transition my book of clients and merge both companies.
This was a very exciting time in my career as I finally had my chance to get a taste of agency life! Up until this point I had never worked at an agency office and Web Talent lived up to all the expectations.
The team sported a dual-level office in downtown Lancaster, PA with a dog-friendly environment and indoor putting green. They worked with the best clients and promoted an atmosphere of sharing.
Oliver Feakins was leading the charge when educating the team and this would be my opportunity to learn how an advanced digital marketing agency serviced large clients and landed positive results from SEO, all while managing the client and proving value through the entire process.
In addition, to bringing over a book of new clients, I would also bring my processes for producing WordPress websites. I helped improve the team’s efficiency by implementing a formal project management system and managing the production schedule using the same processes I still use today. By doing so I was able to increase productivity and reduce scope creep which in turn helped increase billable hours.
I in turn was learning the foundational elements of SEO and where I learned the advanced concepts around crawling, indexability, and how this influenced ranking in search results. I learned how to perform keyword research, link-building concepts, and technical SEO site audits, along with analytics and reporting. Most importantly, I learned how to explain SEO to clients in plain English so that they understand what we are doing.
It was not long until agency life started to take its toll on my health and relationships. The 2-hour daily commute, late night hours, and different views on how to grow the agency was consuming me to the point where it was clear that it was time for me to move on.
This led me to what I would consider the second phase of my career. Because I had sold my agency and signed a non-compete, I could not work or start my own agency for a period of (2) years and I had every intention of honoring this agreement. This meant I was done with agency life and that was OK with me as I was ready for something different.
The experience of building, managing, and selling my agency business provided me with the skills to take my career in a different direction than most of my peers. I was learning how to leverage my digital marketing skills to further my career and by taking on challenges that were outside of my comfort zone but would ultimatlye further shape me as a professional.
For my next roles, I would be working “in-house” and would have the opportunity to work with outside digital marketing service contractors, providing me with an understanding of what it’s like to be on the other side of the table, purchasing digital marketing services instead of selling them.
My experience with Savage Auto Group was exciting as I was handed the keys to an empty building and was told that I had all the resources I needed to build a new Internet marketing department. The Auto Group was looking for a fresh new perspective on how to use the internet to get more sales for the dealership group and it would be my responsibility to make it happen.
It was time to take my agency-based digital marketing experience and apply it to the automotive industry. This would prove to be a challenge as the automotive industry is known for not being an early adopter of technology. A lot of auto dealerships felt the internet was a threat and were scared of not knowing what the future would bring. Jerry Seidel of Savage Auto Group knew differently and brought me on board as Business Development Manager for his Hyundai dealership in Shillington, PA.
This would be an entirely different experience as the automotive industry is competitive and operates in its own space with very unique needs and challenges that are different than a typical service-based business. The Automotive industry has high ticket sales in a fast-paced environment
My first work of order was to bring on someone that had experience working in the call-center side of automotive digital marketing. My new department would merge sales and marketing and it would be my team’s responsibility to follow up on internet and phone-based leads with the goal of driving new visits to the showroom floor.
My first hire was Chris Bechtel, someone that was a personal connection and had experience working for an internet call center for a massive auto group. He knew what the day-to-day activities looked like and how managers would identify top performers within the team.
In the beginning, we bootstrapped by tracking our leads on an easel board using a magic marker. We would evolve quickly as we got connected to the dealership DMS network system and were able to start utilizing a CRM to manage our lead nurturing process. At that time I was an integral part of coordinating the upgrades of dealership technology such as Wi-Fi repeaters, security, and server upgrades, and connecting them to previous IT partners I have worked with in the past.
My team and I completely reworked how leads were flowing through the website into our CRM and things were working better than expected. We hired additional team members who had previous experience working in call centers and together we would try new ideas, measure effectiveness, and examine the results. Because of the volume of calls and internet-based leads, we could quickly identify what worked and what did not and keep the ideas that were high performers.
Within 16 months of starting the new department, my team was setting records for the number of Internet-generated leads converted to sales in a 1 month time period, something that the Hyundai and Kia stores had never seen previously.
At the height of our success, I was working directly with Shift Digital and KIA to develop a new pilot program that would provide dealers nationwide with a proven template for digital marketing that combined website landing pages, social media campaigns, YouTube, Google Ads paid search, and email marketing and keep in mind that this was in 2015.
Ultimately changes in the economy and car-buying habits shook things to the point where I needed to find my next venture. The Automotive industry can be grueling and ultra-competitive with long hours and working holidays and weekends. It’s very easy to get caught up and work endless hours.
A lot of people in the auto industry can’t leave. I was fortunate enough to have a skill set that would allow me to work in any industry or vertical, something that I would use to my advantage to land my next role.
I found Mail Shark through the gracious help of Phil Frassenelli of Spherion Consulting. When I told him I was ready to leave the auto business, he connected me with Mail Shark and the rest is history.
Mail Shark offered a unique twist on classic direct mail and was growing to the point where it was time to bring digital marketing in-house for greater control over campaign execution. After meeting with CEO Brian Johnson, I was excited about the opportunity to flex all the SEO and digital marketing skills I had acquired. It was now time to act as a marketing team with just one person as Mail Shark started its meteoric rise.
It would be my responsibility to manage all aspects of the company website, email marketing, CRM system, and develop a means of tracking leads from source to sale. My first order of business was to bring everything in-house and I started with the company website. Once I completed the migration to WP Engine, I developed a plan for the next 24 months which included a mix of content marketing and white hat link building, and name/address/phone number (NAP) alignment.
It was during my time at Mail Shark that I would become Google Analytics and Google Ads certified for the first time. Tracking and reporting became a huge part of my role which forced me into learning every aspect of Google Analytics goal and conversion tracking. It would also be my first time managing an active Google Ads account, managing thousands of dollars in monthly ad spend budget.
This was the first time in my career that I had the opportunity to utilize every digital marketing skill I had acquired to that point. One of my blog post concepts went viral gaining national attention with increased traffic to the website for keyword-related terms. Content marketing is a long-term game and I was extremely proud to have one of my articles gain authoritative links raising organic search rankings from that time forward. I developed a case study explaining what I did to make this happen.
As Mail Shark kept moving forward with explosive growth, the needs of the company changed. The company was faced with a decision. Either hire a team and build an in-house marketing department or outsource everything to an agency.
When the company decided to go to the agency route, I took things very personally. Emotions did not allow me to understand the decision though I need to move on and find another role. I was determined to find out the agency took over the Mail Shark account so I could work for their competitor and that’s exactly what I did.
Within two weeks of leaving Mail Shark, I was having conversations with Tom Malesic, the owner of EZ Marketing in Lancaster, PA. Tom was a colleague from my time at Pagoda Media and had mutual respect fo each other. When Tom told me about his plans to expand his digital marketing department, I immediately took on the role and joined the team as Digital Strategist.
When we reconnected in 2016, Tom was looking to restructure the organization and needed talent. I recall our interview where I was asked to plan out a digital marketing campaign for a fictitious local fence company and filled all three of their meeting room whiteboards by the end of the meeting.
I was brought on board as Digital Strategist through my primary focus would be the SEO department. This was a transitional time in SEO and the company needed to change its tactics to stay current with modern-day methods.
The agency had a lot of local clients with nearly all of them wanting to rank on the local level for their industry terms. This would be the first time that I would develop a local SEO package that addressed name address phone number alignment (NAP), google business profile optimization, properly structuring their website, and more to be found all in effort to be found at the local level.
While I was developing the local SEO package, I was training our junior team members on new innovative ways to conduct building links, optimizing on-page content, and using new tools for keyword research, moving away from keyword density and focus on more theme and topics.
EZ Marketing was my second take on agency life. Web Talent had given me a taste of working at the “cool” office with creative people and colorful atmospheres, where couches and billiard tables embody the style of a digital marketing agency. It was very cool to work with such collaborative and passionate people.
I’m also proud to say that I had an active part in helping the agency land its largest client to date by working with the client early on to define how they could make more revenue through developing a loyalty program app for its customers and explaining how this would impact their business.
Working at EZ Marketing showed me that e-commerce was the future if I wanted to stay relevant in the digital marketing space. The best and most profitable clients were e-commerce websites and those clients did not have to be “sold” on moving forward with SEO as they already understood the power and how much revenue can be generated through organic search traffic and digital marketing tactics such as paid search and social.
I knew in my heart that if I could connect with a consumer product company that sold online, I would have a lot to offer in terms of business strategy, website optimization, and marketing automation. I also knew it was time for me to focus my efforts on a more national level. I had parameters for my next role and I was sticking to my plan which proved to be a smart move, I just needed to be flexible.
By this point in my career, I was really starting to enjoy what I do as I no longer had to question what to do next as I had the skills and experience to make it happen. It was now time to take everything I learned and take things up to the next level.
Isolator Fitness is a consumer product company (B2C) that produces cooler bags and meal portioning containers for bodybuilders and people serious about their fitness. The Isolator Fitness production facility is located in my hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania. When the CEO approached me about assisting with technical SEO, I was very interested in taking on the project.
Isolator Fitness had recently migrated its website from Magento to Shopify Plus and was having a difficult time completing the migration. The company relied heavily on organic search traffic and the migration was starting to upset search rankings for key phrases and the company was losing revenue. I was the perfect fit for the mission and I agreed to take on the project.
We settled on a hybrid work environment where I would a few hours on location every week as we completed the migration. I can recall the first time I walked through the production facility and noticed how quiet things were. The production floor had dozens of sewing machines that were not being used and locker rooms with no employees to use them.
My first order of business was to complete the migration and clean up the massive duplicate content mess as at the time, Google had over 5,000 pages indexed for what was an 800-page website. The amount of technical SEO work that I completed during the first three months is now a case study that I feature on my Isolator Fitness Technical SEO case study page.
Part of my responsibility was to train my two junior team members, one of which was the owner’s son. I would train my juniors on best practices and make sure they understood the concepts (and not just the software) which allowed them to make better decisions for the company.
I learned a lot of technical SEO lessons by working on this project, and one of them is how to manage large-scale technical SEO concerns using automation. , as you simply don’t have the option to do things on a page-by-page basis with a 10,000-page website. I also learned what happened when people decide to make rash decisions and change e-commerce backend settings without communicating with team members, and what can happen accordingly.
This Isolator Fitness experience taught me the inner workings of both Magento and Shopify Plus. I had never been a huge fan of the Magento platform but it was still beneficial to understand how the system worked in terms of SEO and search performance. It was amazing to work with the Shopify platform as this was a relatively new player at that time.
At the end of the 6 months, I was impressed with how much I had accomplished in such a short time. The production floor was now busy with every sewing machine being utilized and locker rooms full of production workers getting ready for the next shift. It was amazing to be part of such a transformation and I knew that e-commerce and technology would be part of my career and life moving forward.
It was 2017 when I was presented with an offer that would change the course of my career. It would be the opportunity to once again start a new sales and marketing department. This time I would be focusing on the IT industry and SAAS, taking on the high-stakes game of professional IT consulting.
Critical Design Associates is a team of IT professionals that are experts in server virtualization, DevOps, and are world-renowned experts on SWIFT banking security. The CDA team services Fortune 1000 clients and are well-respected consultants for Citrix and other enterprise-level server technology.
Critical Design Associates was a client of Pagoda Media and over the years I would provide marketing consulting on an ad-hoc basis when needed.
In early 2017, Anthony DiDonato approached me about redesigning the company website and I outlined a plan that would integrate the website with HubSpot so that the team would have an integrated approach to inbound marketing. A competing firm won the project and I thought nothing of it until I was contacted a few months later.
They were having a difficult time working with an agency that simply did not understand their business. The CEO and CFO realized that not just any agency could plug in and understand their business model, they needed someone to take over the management of digital marketing and work directly with sales.
I accepted the challenge and joined the team as Sales & Marketing Director. This would be another opportunity for me to build a department from the ground up. My first order of business was to disconnect from the agency that was charging $5,000 a month to do nothing. The WordPress website, Mail Chimp account, and HubSpot CRM were all brought in-house. I then sourced and hired a marketing assistant and together we rolled up our sleeves and began configuring what would be our marketing and lead generation engine.
It only took me a few months to realize that Hubspot was the right CRM for how the company operated. I researched the options and selected Zoho CRM and from that point forward, we would save over $3,000 a month in CRM fees. Bringing agency services in-house and managing our own platforms saved us thousands of dollars in unnecessary expenses.
Once we had our foundation in place, the next order of business was to start driving leads. The IT industry is extremely competitive with companies having what seems like unlimited budgets. It’s not a vertical where you can pay your way to the top forcing marketing professionals in this space to get creative to get noticed and that’s exactly what we would do.
Sales were a large part of the process I implemented a documentation process and daily huddle meetings to help everyone stay aligned with sales-related efforts. This was a great experience as I had true quality players on my team who all wanted to make it happen, something I feel is important to the success of any department.
At the time the IT industry was very much driven by live events. Software vendors and consultants would demo different types of software and do so during live presentations either online or in-person. Because our goal was to get in front of a target list of corporate-level IT engineers managing large organizations, we created our own cyber security roadshow where we would bring in SANS instructors to coordinate cyber security “lunch and learns” in key cities around the United States.
Critical Design is where I learned the importance of email optimization By working with companies like Agari to align DNS records all the way through DMARC and BIMI authentication, this tactic helped increase the number of emails that landed in our end user’s inbox, which in turn helped promote the message for our lunch and learn events and was key to our overall success.
Once we completed our events my team would spring into action, following up with everyone to learn about their specific challenges and how we could help. Our events were getting noticed to the point where other companies wanted us purely for the marketing funnel as we were known for “getting butts in seats” ensuring that the right people would show up for our events.
Because of my personal relationship with the CEO, I was asked to handle certain C-level functions that allowed me to hone skills that are extremely valuable to me today.
One of my new responsibilities would be to manage the military contracts that are company was pursuing and as an official representative of the company, I would fly around the United States, participating in trade shows, and award ceremonies, and would tag in to set up business deals and land new projects.
I would learn how to utilize Citrix’s proven method for interviewing potential IT engineer candidates and used their process to hone my own interviewing skills. It would be my responsibility to act as our sourcing agent, attending prestigious schools such as Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pennsylvania to recruit top talent for our company. I developed a hiring and interview process which is something I still use today when interviewing potential candidates.
In January 2020 Critical Design lost one of our core team members to a rare disease. Within two months, a colleague that was once part of my roadshow was now bedridden and in hospice. Our entire team was sad and emotionally drained so when COVID hit in May of 2020, many of us simply had too much. Things were changing so quickly within the company, I would have had to switch to a full-time role in sales (commission only) which is something that I did not want to do as I was not sure where things would go.
For the next nine months, I would take a break from everything and give myself time to reboot and think about where I wanted to go with my career. There were certain things that I was adamant about moving forward. I knew I wanted to work in the e-commerce space as I really enjoyed working with Isolator Fitness and watching firsthand how SEO can turn around an entire business. I knew that e-commerce store owners would understand the importance of SEO and digital marketing so it made sense to position myself in this vertical.
This time I was determined to wait and find the right fit as I knew there was an e-commerce company that needed someone with a stacked skill set such as mine. There were many times previously when I felt like my back was against the wall, this time I wanted to wait until I found a role where I could bring something valuable to the table.
If the opportunity did not meet these criteria, I was well-off in providing freelance SEO consulting as I still had a strong book of clients that would reach out to me on a regular basis.
Finding Crimson Agility and waiting for the right fit was one of the best moves I have made in my career. Because of the competitive nature of the business and the strict confidentiality agreements I have with my corporate clients, I can share specific details of the projects that I work on today, but I can provide an outline of what I do on a day-to-day basis at the company.
Crimson Agility is a remote team of e-commerce consultants and developers that are an Adobe Silver Partner and experts at the technical and marketing aspects of managing a large online store. The company has launched hundreds of successful online stores during its 9-year history of the company and continues to provide consulting services today.
I manage a four-person digital marketing team that provides professional services to the development clients of Crimson Agility. My team works in conjunction to make sure our website builds follow SEO best practices and ensures our clients have the best chance of ranking in the organic search results.
Education is a huge part of what I do as I continually provide training to my in-house team on the latest digital marketing topics. I also work with our development team to answer questions related to specific clients and tasks. It my team’s responsibility to learn about our clients and provide business-class consulting and digital marketing services.
Our team handles the entire spectrum of e-commerce digital marketing including technical SEO audits, on-page optimization, product feeds, and paid search services for Google Ads and Facebook. Our team will configure automated email marketing campaigns that address the needs of specific audiences and groups of consumers.
For more information, I invite you to check out Crimson Agility at https://crimsonagility.com to learn more about the team and services the company provides.