Originally founded in North Carolina in December of 2007 by Chris Wiggins, Clear SEM Solutions, a Website Design and Online Marketing Management Agency, is now owned and operated by Chris and his wife Jennifer. What started as a hobby and then a part-time side job, has turned into full-time occupation for both Chris and Jennifer, and an opportunity to impact the lives of employees and clients throughout the Treasure Coast.
"Chris worked in the field prior to founding Clear SEM Solutions, but he felt limited in his job," Jennifer said. "He worked at a local computer shop in our small town. An outside opportunity came along to do some website development and search engine optimization (SEO) work for a client. After realizing the possibilities of going off on his own, it was a no-brainer to pursue that path. At the time, I worked as a Finance Manager for an insurance company, but we made a plan to get enough clients for us to replace our income. In 2010, I left my job and came on-board to help Chris build Clear SEM Solutions. It was scary to leave a steady job, especially coming out of the recession, but the Internet was booming and with Chris' experience we were confident in our abilities."
Not long after Jennifer joined Chris, the husband and wife team made another big decision. In April of 2011, they decided to move to Florida. Jennifer shared that decision and how they ultimately landed in Port Saint Lucie.
"We both grew up in the eastern part of North Carolina," she said. "It was mostly farmland and everything was far away. We wanted bigger opportunities, better weather and easy access to the beach. We spent a few months visiting different parts of Florida and eventually picked Ft. Lauderdale. We sold our house, packed everything up and drove down to Ft. Lauderdale. It was one of the toughest two weeks of my life. I was shocked in every way imaginable. We put our stuff in storage and, as we were driving back to North Carolina to regroup, we stopped off in Port Saint Lucie to get some food. We absolutely loved what we saw. When we got back to North Carolina, we called our Realtor and told her to meet us in Port Saint Lucie in two weeks."
When Jennifer and Chris moved to Port Saint Lucie, they still had accounts in North Carolina, but quickly set out to get plugged into the local community. Jennifer spent the first two years getting out and about, meeting people, getting involved in the community and doing everything possible to market their business. She admitted that 2012 was a rough year, but in 2013, things quickly took off.
"By 2013, we set up a physical office and brought on some staff," Jennifer said. "We picked up 11 new accounts in a few months. We were blown away. All the work from the previous year was finally starting to come in. When you give, it really comes back around and rewards you."
When you operate a business in this space, things change quickly. The basic fundamentals of marketing will always remain the same, but technology has a way of leveling the playing field. When something new is adopted by the mainstream business community, such as social media marketing, established agencies and newcomers are both in a position to acquire the new skills to service existing and potential clients. As a result of proactive planning and quick decision making, Clear SEM Solutions has and will continue to maintain a presence on the forefront of advancements in digital marketing and advertising.
"We started with web development and SEO," Jennifer said. "In the early days, Chris could easily get you ranked #1 on Google. Then the focus shifted to social media, especially when businesses began adopting the new technology. In the last three years, social media marketing, utilizing advertisements, and reputation management has grown in popularity. In the past, some people didn't necessarily trust reviews, but now Google puts a heavy authority on businesses with more reviews. We've always kept our foundation in web development and SEO, but we now do everything else. It's really important to keep your website up-to-date and relevant. We manage every part of a client's website from content to security, and all of their online marketing platforms."
Jennifer explained that Clear SEM Solutions does it all. Some companies only build websites, while others only do social media management or ads. A 'we do it all' mentality, along with a very personal approach including hand-written thank you notes, celebrating client accomplishments, new client welcome packages, a focus on educating clients and volunteering with staff throughout the community are what help to set Jennifer and her team apart from competitors.
Jennifer's future goals revolve around growth and helping more people. "I love helping others," she said. "This business has given me an opportunity to help business owners, employees and the community. It fulfills my daily need of making a difference. As a company, we focus on making a positive impact in the lives of our clients and employees. We do so by working together as a team and by having fun. Within the community, we focus on making an impact through helping non-profits in need of our services who may not be able to afford it through our non-profit program, or participating in food drives and fundraisers. Ultimately, I want to continue to become a name in my community as someone that people can trust. My client's have nicknamed me 'Google Jen' because I'm like a directory of complimentary businesses we refer our clients to. Partnerships are very important to us."
What advice does Jennifer have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "If you have the product, service and/or business model and you truly believe in it, you can't let the fear of failure stop you," she said. "I have this thing about getting value out of my days and life. If you have something you're passionate about, but you're working somewhere else and not doing what you love, you're wasting your one opportunity. You only get one life. Don't waste it."