If you can’t look into your own eyes then there is something seriously wrong with your life. If people start doing that then I guess you might start seeing a much better world out there.
As a part of my Marketing Strategy Series, I’m talking with my fellow marketing pros at the top of their game to give entrepreneurs and marketers an inside look at proven strategies you might also be able to leverage to grow your business. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Keral Patel.
Keral Patel founded the Advertising Network in 2008 and exited in 2016. He still actively manages the core business of his original startup company that he started in 2004. With dedication and persistence through all these years, he and his team now oversee multiple web properties with millions of vistitors every month.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting and what lesson you learned from that?
I don’t know if this is funny or not. But in order to undermine our competition, we started a similar service and started offering at unbelievable rates. We never planned to seriously follow through. It was just to throw a wrench into their works so that we could get some traction. Being young has its benefits and drawbacks. You could call this “one of those moments”. We were not taking any orders or anything. We just wanted to confuse people, that this same service could be purchased at lower rates. I was getting threats from them and I think that part was funny. In the end, that plan was destined to be doomed and so it did.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
The tipping point was back in 2010 or so. I think I have had enough of this day in day out stuff and it was getting really boring. On that constantly evolving strategies were a pain. I had dedicated staff for all this stuff but the geography was changing drastically. Twitter and Facebook were picking up the pace and many people were not able to keep up with it. The only takeaway I learned from that was nothing is permanent either in life or in business. Call me naive but before that, I used to think that things were permanent.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are?
There definitely is. That person will be reading this too. Call him my mentor or call him my early days client. We have been together for the last 15 years or so. Good times or bad it doesn’t matter, that particular person has always been like a beacon of light for me. I would say I have learned life lessons from him. Without him, it would have been boring and I would not have known how to handle success or failure and move on with it.
Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. Where do you see the future of marketing headed?
Content was/is/will remain, king, we all know that. But everything is not about content. Sometimes you come across products or services where content isn’t even in the consideration. For example, if you are marketing Financial Services would you go on and start writing Financial articles? How is that different from others? I agree it will kickstart the campaign, get you leads, and all but what about conversion ratio. The better approach is to adjust business fundamentals along with marketing campaigns. A successful marketing campaign depends on how other aspects of the business are running. “Honesty”, “Straight Talk Approach” has always given better results than throwing fancy words and financial/technical jargon at the customers.
Customers are fed up with hearing the same story so give them something that is “real to the core” and there should be no problems at all. You can notice throughout this interview that I have been trying to be honest and be shooting straight rather than using fancy jargon to confuse others. Using words like PPC, Funnel, LSI, etc is not going to make me look better or smarter. You have to appreciate the power of simplicity and use it as a tool. I think that is the new way of marketing, the “Going back to the basics”.
Can you please tell us the 5 things you wish someone told you before you started?
- Don’t give up — If you are a kind that easily gets distracted or gives up easily then competitive marketing is not going to be easy on you. Think for a moment and imagine that your competition has similar guy/guys like you working for them. So you have to take them head-on. This is an ongoing battle that never ends. Be passionate about it.
- Keep your cool — Getting frustrated is easy so keeping your cool is important. Getting emotional about a project/campaign can have negative effects on the outcome. I used to get emotionally attached to projects and it was draining all my energy and affecting the outcome in a negative way. I wish someone told me this when I started.
- Choose your team members wisely — Everyone knows how one bad apple ruins it all. So choose your team members wisely. There have to be one or two people on your team who can just know what you want, by just looking at your face. The chemistry within the team is important otherwise it will become a management nightmare rather than a marketing one.
- Budget and Goals — Always be clear on budgets and goals. Stay within the given budget and try to achieve the defined goals. The most sensitive part is budgeting and it frequently gets ignored or left out to be discussed at the end of the meeting. If there is a limited budget then try to maintain the balance between budget and goals.
- Offense if the best defense — Be energetic and throw in everything you got. This can be done if you are on the front foot, not while on backfoot trying to defend whatever market reach you already got. It is also a great morale booster if you are playing offensively.
What books, podcasts, documentaries or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
I read books but they are not always about marketing. I read books on other stuff that is relevant to marketing but not about marketing. I read industry news as a source of the latest information on the subject. I would rather read a book on leveraging efforts than reading about a trendy new trick. Theory and practice are totally different when you actually try and execute the ideas. You don’t know and can’t anticipate what you might encounter once you start implementing those ideas given in the books. Therefore a good knowledge of relevant subjects is necessary than directly doing the same thing over and over.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Don’t get too occupied with it. Don’t try to get everything in order. Some loose ends are okay. If you go with getting it perfect every time then burnout is bound to happen sooner or later. I know it’s easier said than done because when I was getting similar advice I would throw that advice out of the window. I think the best way to go forward is to enjoy it. Try new things and believe in yourself much more than others believe in you.
Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!