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Season 2 – Episode 15: Fabio & Duray – Viaduct Generation

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Season 2 – Episode 15: Fabio & Duray – Viaduct Generation

Chris Simmance (00:49.958)
Thanks, voiceover guy, but you’ve got something wrong. I don’t have one agency leader in the conversations there. I’ve got two. I’ve got Fabio and Dure from Viaduct Generation. How you doing, guys?

Fabio Embalo (00:58.948)
Hello, hello, very good.

Duray (01:00.034)
How’s it going? Yeah, well thank you.

Chris Simmance (01:00.886)
Welcome back. You, your, your recording was so successful last time. I thought I’m going to do another, another two person recording again. Um, you know, the, the fans loved it. I got letters in the mail, everything. Um, it was, it was great. How are you guys? Have you, how have you guys been?

Fabio Embalo (01:12.049)

Duray (01:17.718)
Yeah, good. Yeah, busy, hey, busy, busy everywhere. It’s been fun. We’ve just come back from Brighton SEO. We took most of the team out there. It’s always a lot of fun. Noemi was speaking, our new head of operations, and she did a fantastic job at carrying the Viaduct crew out there, so yeah, it was really good. It was a lovely time, and things are always busy, but things are good. I’d much rather be busy and…

Fabio Embalo (01:17.728)
Yeah, I’m in the room, you wanna take it?

Duray (01:47.511)
and challenge them both.

Chris Simmance (01:47.534)
Yeah, it never, it never stops, does it in digital agency land? Um, and, and I think, um, talking, mentioning, no, Amy, just there, I think that’s probably one of the key things that I’ve seen change with you guys over the year that we’ll probably end up touching on about the team development and things, but what do you think has been, um, like in the last year, there’s been a lot of stuff that’s gone on in the industry and in the agency world specifically.

But what do you think’s been some of the kind of the major developments in your own agency in the last year and how do you think you’ve adapted yourselves to them?

Fabio Embalo (02:20.728)
It’s a good question, right? I feel like, I mean, as Dorey said, we just came back from Brighton SEO and I feel like about 80% of all talks had something to say about AI. So it kind of just goes to show what’s going on in the industry and obviously, by default, our own agency. I think adapting to new technologies and new ways of doing things is perhaps the biggest sort of change since we last spoke.

as a sort of young agency, someone called us a toddler the other day that we’re no longer. No, they were, they were like, you’re no longer a baby business, you’re not a toddler based on the years that we’ve been going. So I’m like, yeah, it kind of makes sense. And I was like, yeah, now it kind of just feels like, yeah, the last time we spoke to you, we were.

Chris Simmance (02:54.866)
Oh, I hope they were being nice.

Fabio Embalo (03:13.396)
full of excitement and strength. Now we’re a little bit more beat down, but also with a lot of strength, you know? And internally, yeah, like I just think everyone is really, really understanding where we wanna take the agency. So matter of fact, one of the biggest changes we’ve had since we last spoke to you is also having you as part of us, right? Yeah, for sure now, but that’s without, you know,

Chris Simmance (03:20.139)

Duray (03:20.399)

Duray (03:27.669)

Chris Simmance (03:35.19)
Wow, look at that for an awesome plug. Hey.

Fabio Embalo (03:43.248)
shining your boots too much. I don’t know if that’s an English expression but it definitely is a Spanish one. Yeah, yeah, that’s added to the sort of macro development that we’re having right now. Really understanding what where we want to be going forwards, where we want to be in 12 months and see how we get there.

Chris Simmance (03:46.594)
It isn’t, but it should be. I mean.

Duray (03:48.08)
I like it, I love shining your boots too much.

Chris Simmance (04:06.954)
And, and Jere, as a, like a non, uh, you came into the agency as a non kind of technical professional. So you came in with your sales skills and, and all of that, all of your, um, uh, past employment history versus being in tech SEO like Fabio. What have you seen? Cause I think that being at the leadership level in an agency and not being on the tools, shall we say, I think that gives you that afford you a really good opportunity to sort of see.

Duray (04:31.695)

Chris Simmance (04:35.426)
different versions of the developments. What have you seen in the agency in the last year? And don’t say AI in your agency.

Duray (04:40.458)
In the agency space or in our agency? In our agency, we’ve stopped worrying too much about what we look like from an outside perspective and really start worrying more so on our team and our clients, making sure that the delivery is perfect rather than just looking pretty. Worrying more like putting the agency going to the gym rather than putting on a lot of makeup. So that’s kind of what we’ve, we’ve really tried to.

Chris Simmance (05:00.419)

Chris Simmance (05:06.731)
I like that.

Duray (05:09.762)
build up our own internal processes, ensuring that we have standard operating procedures, that we’ve got really good talent that is well nurtured and they feel well respected and they feel like they can really harness a career here at Viaduct, rather than us pumping loads of money into looking the part. We’re just really trying to be that part now.

Chris Simmance (05:30.759)
That’s awesome. And, and the industry as a whole has evolved a lot in the last year and it will always evolve, something new will come along. AI has been a big part of that. Um, other than AI, I think there’s been, well, AI is part of it, but the, the whole experience around what say SEO in its, on its, in its own right is, has changed relatively fundamentally in the last few months.

And what you see in coming down the line in terms of what clients are expecting or asking, are you having lots of clients say, I’ll use ChatGPT to write 20 articles this month, what am I paying you for?

Fabio Embalo (06:08.317)
It’s funny that you asked me this because I know you don’t know this, but we literally had a whole call about that this morning. Yeah, it’s happening, right? We do have clients that obviously we don’t only do strategy from a concept perspective, we also do implement as well. We have our very own writers in house. And for one of our clients, we do, I believe it’s about 15 pieces a month, right?

Chris Simmance (06:14.466)

Fabio Embalo (06:36.716)
He was very much like why I can do this myself now with our GPT. So why am I paying you to do it? you know and I Think I think Google thankfully does have the right guidelines when it comes to like for example the update that they brought out earlier in the year last year at this point with the whole helpful content updates and Really ensuring that plastic ee at update as well Really ensuring that the human

Chris Simmance (06:40.447)

Fabio Embalo (07:05.972)
sort of perspective doesn’t go away, you know, like, I know there’s a lot of people that still very much able to rank properly just through the use of AI, but it’s a risk that I’m not sure I’m willing to take just yet. Just so we’re right with AI.

Chris Simmance (07:09.325)

Chris Simmance (07:19.014)
Yeah, I mean, I wonder this time next year, if we do another recording, how many more E’s are going to be put on that E A T?

Fabio Embalo (07:27.274)

Chris Simmance (07:42.506)
This is what this is what you get when you pay for a guy on Fiverr. He just will not go away. I paid him too well. He’s, he’s bloody good, but he, you know.

Fabio Embalo (07:48.32)
It’s a good thing.

Duray (07:49.886)
Hey, if we can get that 54% increase in net profit in the same amount, it’s absolutely fine with me Chris, don’t worry.

Chris Simmance (07:55.434)
Well, we’re working on it, you know. And so, and Jure, in terms of like, you’re out there talking to potential clients all the time, talking to potential partners all the time. And I guess, before a client asks the question, like Fabio has explained, because they’re already a client, how have you kind of changed the narrative, so to speak, when it comes to the pitch process or anything like that? Have you, is there anything that you…

Fabio Embalo (07:56.816)
I’m gonna go to sleep. Yeah.

Duray (08:13.914)

Chris Simmance (08:22.602)
Like any objection handling that’s changed. Cause I’m, I’m guessing those people that you’re pitching to or talking to are still, they, they’ve probably heard of AI in some way or another. Um, so they must be, that must be quite conscious on your mind at the minute.

Duray (08:38.422)
Yeah, a little bit, but like, I think it’s incredibly important for us to pivot and pitch ourselves as that partner that’s going to support them long term and going to really act as someone primarily from a strategy perspective. We’ve always said we love working with teams, in-house teams that have the ability to execute because one, it’s cheaper because you’re not having to pay our day rate to execute. You can pay a salary to execute.

Chris Simmance (08:59.527)

Duray (09:06.522)
Use us for our combined knowledge. Use us for the experience that we have. Ultimately, the reasons why people hire agencies is to rent the experience that they’ve got. But if you are renting that experience to write a blog, then yeah, you’re right. Probably someone that knows the business, that knows the niche, might be a little bit better. So I think that it’s all about making sure that…

the retainers that we do have for clients are serving the clients in the very, very best way possible and making sure that you’re not doing work for work sake, but also asking yourself, like one thing that we’ve recently incorporated is like, very soon after they initially signed the retainer, we have an immediate meeting a couple of months later and just fact check and go, is what you’re getting what you paying for? Like, are you happy and does this make sense? Like, is there anything in here that isn’t Kushti?

Chris Simmance (09:52.597)
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Duray (09:59.503)
that you feel isn’t rightly balanced and we go actually yeah we’re struggling to make this work and we’re struggling to see the value here why don’t we pivot these resources into what makes a big impact

Chris Simmance (10:09.15)
Yeah. And, and I hate to be that advisor that recommends books. And you know that I hate to be that guy, but I have recommended like four books to you. And the one that I always think of as a, like a staple in this industry is this, is that selling the invisible book. It’s so for those who haven’t read it, it’s a short read. It’s what you’ve read it to your A, I think you’ve read it whilst you’re having a haircut at one point. So it’s probably like three hours tops getting your highlights done. But it was, it.

Fabio Embalo (10:15.452)
That’s it.

Duray (10:30.016)
Yeah, yeah pretty much. I don’t have that much hair, Chris.

Chris Simmance (10:38.378)
The distinction between a product and a service needs to be made clear. And if you’re delivering a service, you should be selling on value. And if you’re selling on value, you need to make sure you’re delivering value. Otherwise the client will go away. And if you’re doing the right internal processes and you’ve got the right thinking people, then that value is, is delivered, but it’s also understood by the customer. It’s just, it’s not, it’s nice to, nice to know that, you know,

When you have those meetings with clients, the things that you have to change around alignment are probably just explanation things as opposed to actually deliverables in the broad sense from their scope of work. What do you think, you know, if we were to sort of skip ahead another 12 months, the industry has changed a lot, but where do you see things going, Fabio, from an agency’s point of view, given the speed at which things are going now?

Fabio Embalo (11:31.888)
It’s almost so hard to predict nowadays, right? Yeah, I will for sure. To be honest, that was my way of trying to think of an answer. Well, I think I missed one. Ah, I like the honesty. Okay, now I think we’re gonna see more of the sort of automations that are currently happening with pretty much every new platform that comes out. Like just almost, I feel like all SEOs are perhaps gonna be more centered around

Chris Simmance (11:34.507)
Give it a go. You’ll be wrong.

Duray (11:41.62)

Chris Simmance (11:42.016)

Fabio Embalo (12:01.672)
the strategic side of things, you know, because I feel like with a lot of implementation, especially from a content perspective, as we are already seeing, like I think all these all these sort of new technologies are becoming smarter and smarter. So I mean, some people may have to develop their strategic minds to ensure that they that they do stay in their roles, you know.

Chris Simmance (12:26.558)
Yeah, I think I think you’re right. And Jerry, what your sense? What’s your sense of around that?

Duray (12:33.434)

I think the agencies that can truly cut through the bullshit and the agencies that can resonate as actual partners and as people that really, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to swear, that give a lot and that care, I think they will shine through. Those that are just trying to get a quick buck.

Chris Simmance (12:49.122)
Do it.

Duray (12:58.286)
that are trying to put on excess margin from a freelancer and fiverr with nice branding, I think we’ll very quickly see, we’ll see the end of those. Ultimately, the internet in general has increased the buyer’s access to information. So the need for a consultative cell is even more important because they know the basics already. They know why they need SEO. Now, as you say, you need to be able to sell the invisible and convince them that you’re the right people to do the job.

So having a real consultative mindset and a growth mindset of going, hey, this is what we normally do for clients and that’s great, screw that, what’s going to work for this client? Do we have to go into the office once a month? That’s just how they work and that’s fine, go and do that, figure out how that client likes to work. So I think that’s probably where I see the changing.

Chris Simmance (13:50.006)
Yeah. Um, I think, I don’t think either of you are completely wrong. I think there’s going to be a lot, a lot of changes happening. I think Fabio, to your point around, uh, strategic people, strategic thinking and getting better at that. Um, I do think it is a worrisome time if you’ve cruised through this industry for the last few years on the same, on the same song, if you’ve been talking about the same thing for five years, or you’ve got the same shtick, you’re going to, you’re probably worried a bit or you’re learning about something new. Um,

Fabio Embalo (14:09.065)

Chris Simmance (00:00.93)
So the good news is, hopefully the good news is, you guys have been together for another full year. The good sign is that you’re, well, physically not together right now, but you’ve been relatively well-oiled machine in the last year. I’ve seen a huge amount of change in the agency and you guys have worked your asses off. In terms of professionally speaking, how do you feel like you’ve grown as a professional in the last year? We’ll go with you first, Jure. What do you…

professionally do you feel that you’ve developed on?

Duray (00:36.874)
I think Fabio and I have got better and better at running this business together. And like, I think whilst we are still incredibly friendly and we still look after one another from a friendship perspective and there’s so much love between Fabio and I, I think there is also that point where like we’re very comfortable with just going, hey, for one moment, let’s just put the friendship aside. Let’s just talk about this efficiently from a business perspective. And then

Fabio Embalo (00:54.478)
We’re very comfortable with this very, very

Duray (01:05.33)
I think, for me personally, how I’ve developed, I think I’ve realized that, yes, there’s different ways of working and some people do it in balance and some people don’t. And like Fabio’s doing something at the moment, which I think is really interesting, is he’s just going absolutely all in, right? Absolute grafting, working as hard as he possibly can. And then he’s gonna take a holiday. I’m a little bit different. I can like work at like an 80%, 70%.

Chris Simmance (01:26.678)

Duray (01:33.13)
for more consistent time and that’s fine because then we kind of marry each other out. And there’s no point me trying to adopt Fabio’s mindset because I’m like, after a week, I’m gonna be like, I don’t know how he does this, it’s crazy. Like knowing what I do well and knowing like, staying in my lane and doing what I do best and being consistent with it I think is really important. Not really letting the momentum of the day or the ebbs and flows of running an agency, not letting that affect me too much.

Chris Simmance (01:50.497)

Duray (02:01.386)
but really maintaining that neutral. And I think that’s a good result.

Chris Simmance (02:06.818)
And how about you Fabio, from a professional point of view, do you see going 100 miles an hour a lasting thing? Or is that because I know what I’m like and lots of people say, I don’t know how you can do that much consistently. And but also when I have a Saturday morning off, I get bored. So then about you, how do you see professional growth in the over the last year?

Fabio Embalo (02:22.359)

Fabio Embalo (02:31.906)
So I think I’ve matured a lot. You know, like I came into this with more the, I was tired of working for someone else, you know. I was just, I always felt like I had to like, just be different to the way I am. And then I came into the agency very much like, I’m just gonna be myself. And if you like it, you do. And if you don’t, you don’t, you know. But I think over the past year I’ve like.

Chris Simmance (02:54.651)
and end.

Fabio Embalo (02:58.85)
I don’t know what it is. I think it’s just the consistency behind like every day on a daily basis is working on the business as well as in the business. It’s, I feel a lot more mature professionally, you know, like the conversations I have with clients are a lot more strategic from an SEO point of view, but as well as from a revenue point of view, the conversations I have with the team internally with like all the employees.

Like I can really sense a sense of maturingness. I’m a very emotional person and very passionate when I… And very passionate when… Like depending on the mood I am, I’m always passionate in the way I deliver my messages, my messaging. But I think I’ve managed to find a way to really balance out the way I am professionally. And I think it’s coming across. I think the business is benefiting from it.

Chris Simmance (03:35.734)
Shock. Shocker.

Fabio Embalo (03:58.25)
you know, and to answer your initial point to the 100 miles an hour, I just think I have to be like that. Like, you know, like when I’m working at 70, 80%, I just feel like way too many things slip through the cracks. And then two months down the line, it just comes back to bite me, you know? So I almost might try to just give it my all, as Doreal was saying initially, give it my all, like for two, three months at a time.

And then the moment I feel burned out, like just take a holiday, just take a 10 day holiday.

Chris Simmance (04:30.442)
Yeah. And, and, and to be, to be honest, as long as you know, your cadence, the team know the cadence and the, um, that isn’t at a health detriment then, because everyone’s so different, you know? Um, uh, there’s some people who like Jere, for example, you won’t get less done. You’ll just get it done in a different way over a different period of time. And it will still be great, but consistency is the thing. And if everyone knows what consistency looks like, then that’s, that’s how, how it works.

Fabio Embalo (04:35.444)

Duray (04:37.602)
Thanks for watching!

Chris Simmance (05:00.362)
And the cool thing is, guys, as we’re going through the plan and the program with the agency, there are a lot of things on the horizon that are gonna take potential risk factors out of the way, which will allow not to slow down, shall we say, because if it’s not in your nature, then it’s not, but it allows you to put that effort that’s taken away from things that slip through cracks.

put it into somewhere else that will generate more business or generate better attention or better client satisfaction. Those are the areas where you’ll enjoy more as well. Cause it’s genuinely a little bit more fun. Business building is more fun than talk to me. So what do you think, you know, if we, if we do a recording again in a year, um, one year’s time, well, roughly, um, we’re, we’re talking about what it is that you’ve achieved in the last four year, um, of viaduct. What.

Fabio Embalo (05:36.374)

Chris Simmance (05:52.758)
What would you, do you think you’ve both got the same goal? Have you got different goals depending on your roles in the business? Where do you want to be in a year’s time?

Duray (06:03.298)
How specific do you want us to be?

Fabio Embalo (06:05.006)
I’m gonna go.

Chris Simmance (06:05.355)
as specific as you’re comfortable. There are going to be thousands of people listening to this. They love you.

Fabio Embalo (06:10.967)

Duray (06:12.951)

I’d like to continue our growth. We’ve grown at 50% each year. I’d like to see us consistently grow and hit that target as well. So if we can continue our growth, that’d be good. I’d also like us to be a little bit less reliant on a handful of clients, but rather have like a more…

broader scheme of clients that we all help and it’s, you’re not too scared if one was to go, right? Rather have a little bit more of a safety net. Personally, I’d love to lose a bit of weight. I’d love to look a bit, I’d like to feel a bit more comfortable with myself. And that’s something that I would like to put out on the internet so that in 12 months time, someone could call me out for not going to the gym.

Chris Simmance (06:45.718)

Chris Simmance (06:56.063)
Oh, don’t give me that.

Fabio Embalo (07:01.558)
uh-huh ssss S L I F I N G

Chris Simmance (07:01.974)
There we go. There’s an accountability hook right there for you. What about what about you, Fabio? Where do you think you want the agency to be next year?

Duray (07:05.246)

Fabio Embalo (07:14.402)
I think my whole goal for this year is to really focus on my team’s development. You know, like I’ve noticed a gap in some aspects of it. And I really want that to be the focus over the next 12 years, 12 years, over the next 12 months. Yeah, in 12 months time I really want to look back and really notice people’s development. You know, like I…

Chris Simmance (07:28.371)

Fabio Embalo (07:40.846)
I really liked your previous question about the Ray and I and how we’ve developed over the past 12 months and I really want to be able to look back because I can really feel it with the Ray and I like I can tell how much Hard work and dedication and consistency we’ve put in over the past 12 months I want to be able to do the same thing for the team and for them to achieve that I can tell that I need a little bit of direction a little bit of structure Which is one of the things that we’re very much working with you on Like

A few months ago it was the wild, wild west and everyone was sort of fending for themselves and right now there’s a lot more structure to it and I think that structure will allow everyone to really, really progress and develop to fulfil their potential. So that’s my main priority.

Chris Simmance (08:22.818)

And you’re going to love hearing this. You haven’t heard this yet. Um, I had a call with your new, uh, operations manager. I can’t remember what no Amy’s title is. Operate that one. Um, so no Amy and I had a call this morning and we were talking about future state of the organization and roles and things like that. And she is so excited to start building some of this stuff with you guys, which means that you’re number three from an organizational chart point of view.

Fabio Embalo (08:33.794)
health of operations.

You say.

Chris Simmance (08:55.14)
is already headlong into that mindset. She wants to get going, which means in 12 months time, I reckon you’re gonna be on a beach somewhere having this recording. Well, I don’t know, I’m not very good at predictions either.

Fabio Embalo (09:12.593)
I’ll sign that prediction.

Chris Simmance (09:15.532)
Chaps, it’s been great talking to you again and no doubt obviously we’ll be speaking before, during and after this has gone live but thanks very much for coming on and hopefully in the year’s time we’ll be talking about the successful changes over the course of another year. Cheers!

Fabio Embalo (09:18.51)

Fabio Embalo (09:32.162)
Thank you so much Chris.

Duray (09:32.362)
Pleasure as always. Thank you so much.