Hi, I’m Jenny Stradling.
I’ve been making digital marketing strategies since 2005.
I started my agency, Eminent SEO, with my partner Chris Weatherall in 2009 where we began working with businesses and brands in the health and wellness space. In our work with addiction treatment centers we saw the pain, trauma, and mental health issues that our society is facing today. There is a drug crisis in America and prescription drug overdose is at an all-time high.
However, despite the high demand for recovery services, the rehab industry is in shambles. For the last decade they’ve built lucrative businesses off of expensive residential treatment services and amenities. However, in recent years the laws have changed and rehabs who don’t accept in-network or state insurance programs are finding themselves in difficult financial situations.
Their for-profit model is no longer able to meet the demands of the public. Luxury, inpatient care doesn’t work. Not when someone needs to get off of opioids. They proved that by showing how easy it is to make money by repeatedly treating patients who relapse, without being held accountable for outcomes.
We knew our ability to help rehabs reach people who needed their help through organic marketing was a unique skill that we had learned over the years. And, we saw a lot of shady marketers and agencies taking advantage of the ignorance of these business owners, so we felt obligated to help.
But, no one was fixing anything.
What Happened to Ethics in Business?
At Eminent SEO, we started discussing ethics early on but we’re surprised to see so many other business owners act like it didn’t matter. It’s as though business and ethics came to belong in separate categories somehow, just like (we tried to do) with politics and religion.
Business owners act as if morals don’t matter when making a decision that could impact their bottom line. That if there was any gray area of what one would consider morally or ethically acceptable, lining their pockets was the deciding variable.
We started wondering when doing business became synonymous with money and power over doing the right thing?
And, as business owners ourselves, we were sickened by it.
How could the people who made it their mission to help others find recovery take advantage of those same people in such a deeply disturbing way?
We might not be the treatment providers but we’re the marketers for those providers. We’re creating the path that leads to their door… so, for us, it is personal.
We knew there had to be a better way but the harder we fought for it, the more we realized how corrupt the industry had become.
I started to ask myself, what is it that we are really fighting for here?
You Can’t Outmarket Bad Business Practices
It’s always been my personal mission to make the internet a better place. I realize that’s an extremely broad mission but the reality is there’s so many ways that I can help do this… and there are so many reasons I should.
Not only do I run across outdated information, dysfunctional websites, broken links and missed opportunities every single day online. I also see awesome businesses, amazing artists and incredible people who are not getting the type of recognition they should because they don’t have the right systems, tools, technologies and marketing campaigns.
This makes me sad.
I know a lot of the same people have spent a lot of time and money on the services but have either hired the wrong people to help them or have gotten in their own way for whatever reason.
It’s impossible to pinpoint the problem or blame one thing specifically. The internet changed the way we do things as a society and it has impacted every aspect of the way we live. But some people forget that the Internet isn’t that old and there is still a lot to learn about the long-term implications of its impact on our society and how we live.
Moreover, the people who make the tough decisions on what should and shouldn’t be allowed on private websites, hosted servers and media outlets don’t always understand the nuances of the very platforms are trying to make decisions about.
And, don’t get me started on politics and the government’s role here.
Big websites like Facebook are receiving penalties from US government agencies. But, a monetary fine for data breach that affected not only the lives of Americans but the political landscape across the world, can hardly be enough to stop that large of a company from benefiting from any number of uses of our data for monetary gain in the future.
How can the government, our government and our law, be responsible for public information and ethical decision making on our behalf when it’s not just the United States that has to be included?
If we want to keep tech giants and online businesses in check, we can’t rely on lawyers and judges or law officials who don’t understand the internet. There have to be people who are willing to stand up and do the right thing because the right thing is needed.
And, right now and more than ever, it’s clear that business practices online are in need of unethical overhaul.
A Bigger Calling
Although we continue to offer our services to treatment providers, unless a rehab wants to invest quite a bit of time into organic marketing or money in paid ads, helping them is going to be tough.
Ethical marketing is hard. It’s doing the right thing even when other people are making money doing the wrong thing.
So, despite our longing to do good work in this space, we’ve decided to revisit our focus and, as a team, decide how we want to move forward.
See America is facing more than a drug epidemic. We’re facing a mental health crisis. Just look at what’s happening around you. The gun violence. The systemic racism. The ongoing fight for women’s equality… All of these issues stem from trauma and pain. The kind of trauma that can only be healed through coming together as a global community and addressing our needs holistically.
The fact that people act as though we’re not connected or that “business is just business” shows how deeply scarred we are. It’s not just America that’s in crisis, it’s the entire world. When people choose to look the other way about environmental and social issues, they choose to live in ignorance.
So, my personal mission shifted to more than just making the Internet a better place. Now, it’s about making the world a better place.
But, how am I going to do that? I’m just a marketer.
A Shift Towards Something New
2019 was another hard year for our agency. Our relationships, client base, partnerships and years of work were intermingled with addiction treatment.
But, it’s clear. The privatized addiction treatment industry is going nowhere. Fast. I started asking myself, how was my agency going to survive on a dying industry? How are we going to drive our mission of making the world a better place?
Despite addiction treatment being a primary industry we service, we’ve worked on a wide array of projects in a number of different industries. And, because our company was built with treatment providers, we’ve always done well helping other healthcare, medical and wellness providers.
When a local cannabis dispensary asked us for help, even though we hadn’t done cannabis specifically before, we figured our team would be a good fit. Some of our rehab partners thought it was a little ironic (enter stigma) but we always saw the connection. Cannabis, just like CBD and hemp, has a stigma around it that was propagated by fear and political agendas.
When you educate yourself on the health benefits and how people are using cannabis and hemp today, it doesn’t make sense that it’s illegal. With the right education, we believe the public will accept cannabis as a viable alternative to expensive and addicting prescription medications for things like pain and recovery.
So, despite the critics, we went ahead and offered our services to a medical marijuana dispensary. We found that are multi-channel and organic approach, that worked so well for addiction treatment centers for all those years, also worked well for this dispensary.
That was definitely an aha moment.
To have proof that what we thought would work actually did was enough for us. It was a sign that this is what we should be doing.
We started offering specific services from Eminent SEO to cannabis dispensaries, but it still felt like there was more for us to do. Something kept calling me to more.
We experimented with a bunch of different ideas but ultimately it was my research for a CBD client that led me to the bigger question:
Why was there not more talk about hemp?
Only five minutes of research on hemp will tell you all of the incredibly amazing things that this plant is capable of.
To me, it was clear that hemp is a solution to many many problems we have in this society today. Many of the issues businesses face today that I had personally witnessed in my own career, in fact, could be addressed through the legalization and implementation of industrialized hemp.
Just think about it! CBD oil is used for pain, depression and other mental health issues such as anxiety and even opioid withdrawal.
And, beyond CBD for pain, addiction recovery and mental health, It’s also said to help with whole number of different physical ailments and illnesses. Not to mention, over 50,000 different products.
The more I researched hemp, the more I realized that this was my calling. That hemp brought my work full circle. That hemp in all its glory could help people, offer new business opportunities, provide sustainable alternatives to a number of consumer and commercial products… and in doing so, make the world a better place.
Hemp really was my aha moment.
This is my call to do more.
I am a firm believer in the Law of Attraction and I think that we operate as vibrational beings. I believe in order for us to attract what we want into our lives, we have to find a way to vibrate with it. Meaning, you have to omit the same frequency. Tune into the same “station”, so to speak.
It’s kind of like when you’re looking for a good song on the radio and you finally turn into a station playing your song. You know that feeling you get? That’s the feeling you want to get when you are trying to attract something into your life. That’s how you know you’re aligned with something. That’s how you know you’re moving towards what you want.
That’s when you know you’re in your magic.