By Elisa Santana

When it comes to marketing, most startups think advertising their business on social media is enough. In fact, it is one of the most common mistakes made by startups.

“Asking and only asking on their social media channel. They think they can go to Facebook and tell their followers to give them a call. They either use just social media or just outright do no marketing at all. They need to demonstrate expertise,” the CEO of MerchantSide Marketing Group, Isham Harris, said.

Harris has been the CEO of MerchantSide since 2015. He started in the marketing world when he owned three companies. He found he was spending a fortune on marketing companies and figured “Hey, I’m a smart guy, I could figure this out,” and began doing his own marketing.

MerchantSide deals with five areas of marketing: Building websites, search engine marketing, social media marketing, content and branding. Search engine marketing and building websites are the best known services.

“Our process is really tailored to those services and clients. We only target specific target types. We do a complete and thorough analysis. Google, social, everything. Then we tell them how to fix it themselves or how much it will be to hire us. Once they decide to work with us, we send them questionnaires to understand what they want and like,” he said. “We handle a lot of [their marketing] for them. We can give them a complementary logo redesign if needed. We go through their branding materials, messaging and their overall look. Primarily, we give them more people and increase their conversion of people interested to people who actually buy their product or service.”

The clients are primarily businesses that provide a service. Dentists, lawyers and plumbers are all examples. He tries to stick with businesses that are already established because he wants to ensure a positive return on the businesses’ investments. Harris also said more established businesses are less prone to making marketing mistakes.

“They have an understanding. When [established businesses] come to me, they have made the other mistakes first and they now understand that they need to do something new to acquire new clients. I think a lot of startups are focused on trying to break even or get out of the red then an established business that realizes it has been plateauing and is looking for new revenue.”

MerchantSide has been recognized for its success in the past. In 2018, Harris won best CEO and MerchantSide won best graphic designer. Creative Loafing awarded them Best of the Bay also in 2018 and 2017. The Chamber of Commerce also awarded them Business of the Year last year.

MerchantSide Marketing is located at 650 E. Bloomingdale Ave. in Brandon. Visit

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