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Ben Dankiw is the Founder of NAV43, a digital marketing agency specializing in full-funnel digital marketing through paid media and SEO. With over 12 years of experience in the industry, he has worked with many prestigious clients, including Canadian Tire, Porsche, Ceridian, and TouchBistro. Ben began his career in paid media before developing a passion for SEO around 2015. He has successfully grown NAV43 by focusing on small- to medium-sized businesses, fostering strong relationships, and keeping abreast of digital trends and changes.

tune in

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [2:52] Ben Dankiw talks about the growth of NAV43 in the digital marketing space
  • [6:41] How Ben initially determined his agency’s pricing strategy
  • [7:54] The shift from niche marketing to performance marketing and SEO
  • [10:24] The profile of an ideal client for NAV43 in today’s market
  • [13:03] The impact of data privacy laws and machine learning on the advertising industry
  • [17:14] How Google is tackling AI-generated content and what it means for marketers
  • [24:31] Ben discusses the importance of mastering your morning routine
  • [28:36] NAV43’s work and success with Quark
  • [34:16] The case study of Transformer Table and NAV43’s SEO achievements

In this episode…

Just how complex has the world of digital marketing become? With data privacy making headlines and algorithms constantly changing, businesses find it overwhelming to keep up. How can you navigate these challenges and still find success?

Results-driven digital advertiser Ben Dankiw shares how his agency has adapted to significant changes in the digital marketing landscape. He unpacks the evolution of his agency and its niche, moving from a restaurant-focused strategy to becoming a specialist in performance marketing. He details how content updates from Google have changed the game for content marketers, emphasizing the power of community and relationships in building a successful agency. The discussion also touches on the importance of a morning routine and creating a community-driven platform for sharing morning habits.

In this episode of Inspired Insider Podcast, Dr. Jeremy Weisz interviews Ben Dankiw, Founder of NAV43, about navigating digital marketing changes. Ben explores how NAV43 has thrived amidst the evolving digital world, the challenges and opportunities within the digital space, the impact of AI on content strategy, and the agency’s experience with notable clients like Quark and Transformer Table.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mention(s):

Related episode(s):

Quotable Moments:

  • “If you’re continuously mindful of your morning, you’ll always improve naturally.”
  • “In the SEO and ads world, you have to come at it strategically; it’s not a set-it-and-forget-it anymore.”
  • “You get out what you put in — that applies to community involvement and marketing efforts.”
  • “As digital marketers, we need to be digital navigators for our clients amidst continual change.”

Action Steps:

  1. Join marketing communities or mastermind groups: Engaging with like-minded professionals provides fresh insights and collaboration opportunities, fostering continuous learning and adaptability in an ever-evolving field.
  2. Stay informed about updates in digital advertising and SEO: Keeping abreast of the latest updates, like Google’s content updates, positions marketers to pivot strategies rapidly and maintain a competitive edge.
  3. Develop a strategic morning routine: A tailored morning routine can improve productivity and well-being, setting a positive tone for the day’s business activities.
  4. Leverage first-party data and understand your customer’s value: In the face of rising ad costs and privacy laws, accurate customer valuation enhances strategic targeting and maximizes ROI.
  5. Build a strong brand with a compelling and helpful content strategy: Creating niche-focused, trustworthy content that stands out from AI-generated pieces ensures sustained visibility and engagement with your audience.

Sponsor for this episode

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01 

You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.

Jeremy Weisz  0:22 

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I’ve got Ben Dankiw of Ben, before I formally introduce you, I always like to point out other episodes of the podcast people should check out. And since it’s part of the top agency series, I did one with Adi Klevit and Ben, she’s got an interesting niche, she is a done-for-you easy button for someone to create SOPs. So she goes into a company and helps them create their SOPs, it could be for Client Onboarding, could be for staff onboarding, could be for just to smooth out any process in the business.

So that was an interesting one, we geeked out on our favorite productivity tools, and the non-sexy stuff that makes businesses run properly. Right? That was a really good one. Also, Kevin Hourigan was an interesting one, he’s had agency since 1995. So he talked about just the evolution of the agency space, his company, the ups and downs. And as you know, there’s just been changes in the past year, let alone the past decades, right? So he’s navigated those. So that was an interesting one, as well. So check that out. And this episode is brought to you by Rise25.

At Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect to their dream relationships. And how do we do that? We do that by helping you run your podcast. We’re an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast. We do the accountability, the strategy and the flex location. Ben, we call ourselves magic elves that run around in the background and make it look easy for the host so they can create great content, great relationships, and most importantly, run their business. For me, the number one thing in my life is relationships.

And I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way over the past decade to profile the people and companies I most admire and share with the world what they’re working on. So if you thought about podcasting, you should either have questions go to I have several lots of episodes actually on Inspired Insider that is free content, you can actually check them out.

So I’m excited to introduce Ben Dankiw. He’s the founder of He built his agency with hands-on experience growing brands. And over the past 12 years, he’s worked with over hundreds actually of brands, he’s worked with clients like Canadian Tire, Porsche, Ceridian, TouchBistro, and many, many more. And all of it is through the best helped him strengthen his approach to full-funnel digital marketing. And Ben, thanks for joining me.

Ben Dankiw  2:52 

Am I happy to be here, Jeremy, thanks for having me on.

Jeremy Weisz  2:55 

Just tell us a little bit more about NAV43. And what you do and if you’re listening to the audio, there was a video and you’ll see us poking around Ben’s site.

Ben Dankiw  3:06 

Yeah, absolutely. So I mean, I founded NAV43 in 2016, with a few partners, I have been the CEO for many years, over the past year have actually been kind of transitioning to a role being more than a customer success, kind of hands-on role. But as the founder, I started this company from a vision of what we’d previously been doing over the past few years, right, to learn many skills just actually the paid media side from the SEO execution side, working across many agencies in the past. We are a niche agency that focuses specifically on performance marketing, through paid media, Google ads, meta ads, that kind of stuff, full funnel advertising programs, and SEO, the organic side of things.

So growing brands through search rankings across multiple search engines, namely fan priority, the main priority being Google, of course, being one that I’m very familiar with. So we’ve built brands on kind of both these demand gen performance side, as well as that kind of like brand building search ranking side. So I have experience across both. I started my career on the paid media side and kind of gained a love for the SEO side. I would say that kind of started fostering in 2015, on the SEO side of things where I started getting into it. So hearing about some of the previous agencies that you had on here, especially the OGS, who’ve been here since the 90s. Like seeing that like evolution of landscape.

I know how much I’ve seen changed since I first started digital marketing in 2011. Versus when I started taking an adventure into SEO and 2015 16 today where things are changing. So I’m a little bit humble in the fact that I’m still learning as we go but happy to have the agency that built around us.

Jeremy Weisz  4:50 

What caused you Ben to start your own agency because you have a long storied career with other agencies and a lot of experience there.

Ben Dankiw  5:00 

Yeah, I mean, that all comes back to I think it was about 2012. I kind of forced my way into the agency space I was living out in Waterloo, and I just learned how to use Google ads. And I paid for myself to come to this seminar where I was learning all about how to expand my lead generation experience at the time. It was actually one run by the AC group, which was the agency, that event they hired me from that seminar. And they basically offered me an interview and hired me the next week. And the seminar was just on how to do localized lead generation. And at the time, I was working for a scientific company, where I was trying to learn different skill sets, like how do you do local marketing versus international marketing, because I was doing both.

At that agency, I did really well in the first year. I’m a big fan of career evolution going through periods of like depth versus breadth. And this was a period of my life where I was really focused on depth learning my skill set, I worked there for two years, and I really learned at the time, I thought I learned way more, but I really, I learned one skill, which was how to be a specialist in these platforms. And when I was at that agency, I was told my path to become an account director a eventually lead the agency and a five, 10, 15 year plan. And I was like, well, I know businesses that could use my services today. And I started my first agencies slash freelancing, and it kind of took off from there.

Jeremy Weisz  6:35 

How did you when you first started deciding pricing?

Ben Dankiw  6:41 

That’s a great question. When I first started, we focused on small businesses when I first started, because like well, I had experience with large enterprises, from my agency, like the agency, I was working at the time. My Network and where I could find business was in restaurants, real estate, single service shops. And I basically built a model kind of thinking, okay, what are these companies, I kind of surveyed some companies, what are they willing to pay? And it kind of came into that, like, between 500 $1500 a month was a sweet spot for marketing. So I built my price range around like where I knew they could afford and where I could kind of fit in as a specialist and prove my value. Knowing that at the time that if I got 10 entities, there’s 10 clients $10,000 a month, that’s much more at the time that I was making it and this is 2013. So much more than I was making in any agency.

Jeremy Weisz  7:41 

Talk about niche for a second. You said you started off restaurants, real estate, how did the niche change over time from who you were serving?

Ben Dankiw  7:54 

Yeah, that’s actually an interesting story. We ended up getting a lot of restaurants and we niched into the first agency we created myself and my partner at the time, Tyler. We built a restaurant, niche agency, where it was like, you know what, Google My Business, Google, my business was really easy to win. For anyone who was in SEO local degeneration was like a cheat hack. And PPC or Google Ads still in 2014 2015 was just such a lucrative space for specific companies. Because you’re experts in those categories weren’t focusing on a steakhouse in Toronto. And your steakhouses in Toronto didn’t have the specialty and experience that we had. So we got I think we’re up to like 20 to 25 restaurants. And we niched into that now, we changed that tune when we realized how thin restaurant margins were the lack of ability to scale. And for us to be too niche like that. We eventually got bored of restaurants.

Jeremy Weisz  9:05 

Good thing you did that before COVID hit.

Ben Dankiw  9:08 

Yeah, exactly. So we started marketing, specifically towards restaurants. And we decided at the time we’re like, you know what, let’s niche into our services. Instead of being at the dentist SEO place, or the restaurant, SEO spa, or an insert service. We decided to say like, you know what, let’s be the best at SEO, let’s be the best at Google ads. And those two small services we can build an agency on and we did. We went to conferences we did online, actually we were very self-taught stuff. But at the time that you had MAs and you had a Search Engine Journal and all these different sources for teaching but at the end of the day, like you learn through experience, and we gained clients and had big wins early on, because we were passionate about our service and really niched into that specialty was what we decided to do.

Jeremy Weisz  10:08 

So now, what is a good client look like for you? Because then it’s really interesting you thought about it. So restaurants, but then you realize they’re not scalable. Also, there’s thin margins. So they don’t have as much money as another company made to reinvest into their marketing.

Ben Dankiw  10:24 

That’s another good question. So we’ve been through some phases. And I’d say we learned on the go, we had 40 to 50,000 a month retainer clients. I’ve had several of those over the last few years. And I’ve had the restaurants as the other end of the spectrum. And really kind of where it ended up is we’re too small. And I don’t have the desire to run necessarily 100-person, agency and aisle eight now, I think it’s something that might grow as we grow. But to build an Accounts team to really go after enterprise as our main focus, like when we had our Ceridian, we had our touch bistro, those who were spending millions of dollars a year with us.

That’s a certain model. And it doesn’t necessarily foster the passion and the drive of experience. So we decided to kind of focus in on what we call scale-up brands. So you’re a brand that’s between, let’s say, five to 10 million, and you’re spending anywhere from 10 to 20,000 a month on your marketing, and you need someone who can drive strategy, who can guide you and actually knows the platforms in and out at that size. And that stage, there are certain frameworks that will help you grow. But there’s not an exact playbook for every niche, because we’re not a dentist, for cetera, like it’s a “we will take an e-commerce” brand versus b2b lead gen. So we don’t necessarily rule out the type of business. We have e-commerce clients, and we have lead gen clients. But they typically have to have digitally savvy and the desire to win online because nowadays with how complicated both Google from an SEO perspective is, and the rising costs of ad platforms, we don’t have the same leeway.

We had to just like spend money and figure it out when in the early days. Now you have to come at this pretty strategically, and it’s not like your AD team is going to have all the answers. What is your positioning? Do you have a product fit? Is your marketing? Are you competitive against your competitors? Where do you kind of position? So we look for brands that are looking to take it to the next level and have an initial product fit.

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