“In Order To Thrive, Devote Yourself to Self-Development” With Kean Graham, CEO of MonetizeMore

The key to thriving in the long-term is devoting yourself to improving by at least a little bit every single day. If you are successful in doing so, the accumulated improvement will be successful. Make sure you work on the skills and traits that...

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At the company retreat

Devote Yourself to Self-Development: The key to thriving in the long-term is devoting yourself to improving by at least a little bit every single day. If you are successful in doing so, the accumulated improvement will be successful. Make sure you work on the skills and traits that are most relevant to being a successful marketer. If so, nothing will stop you to thrive in your marketing role.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kean Graham the CEO of MonetizeMore

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I originally fell in love with the online industry when working for a large online classified network. The job was an immense learning experience but once the recession hit, the company decided to lay off the marketing department. I lost the best job I ever had but I was determined to turn the bad into something great.

Five days later, I’m on a plane to South America to go on a life changing trip. Four months into my backpacking trip I was on a four-day trek through the incredible Inca trail towards Machu Picchu. By the end of it, I was sitting on top of Wayna Picchu reflecting on my experiences throughout my trip. I have had the most fulfilling time of my life and it finally clicked:

I will work and travel when I want, where I want.

I have to start a digital business to enable this autonomous lifestyle. Seven months later I started the digital business called MonetizeMore which now offers this autonomous lifestyle to every member of our team.

Since then, the company has grown to $17M in revenues that is a Google Certified Partner with 100+ full-time team members remotely based across the planet.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

A digital nomad friend and I were on a safari in Okavango, Botswana during our digital nomad trip about a week ago. We were lucky enough to come across a pride of mother lions and their cubs feasting on a water buffalo they killed the previous night. The driver brought us dangerously close to them as you can see from this photo. As we got close, the lions stared right at us and got into pouncing position. One even got up and starting pacing.

We knew if we made any sudden movements or sounds, we could become lion lunch. I had my phone in my pocket and I couldn’t remember if the ringer was off. I was one impromptu client call away from being the next kill for that pride. Luckily, I had no calls during those moments that felt like hours and we got away safely.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The original name to my business before MonetizeMore was eSell Solutions. The name eSell Solutions had little to do with increasing ad revenues for websites. I didn’t realize this at first but after speaking to potential publisher clients, I noticed their confusion and lack of resonance with the name.

It became clear pretty quickly that I needed to change the business name to something more relevant. That is where I came up with MonetizeMore. Publishers resonated with this name more since our core business is monetizing websites more.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

As a location independent business in a relatively traditional advertising industry, MonetizeMore has been an enigma. We approach ad optimization from a create value first then charge after perspective. All our competitors charge a revenue share of all their publisher clients’ revenues. We charge a percentage of the increase we earn for them. Therefore, we charge nothing if we do not increase their ad revenues. We live and die by our performance which has propelled us to build the best ad optimization practices and technology. This has lead us to become the best performing ad optimization company in the industry.

Location freedom has been a differentiating benefit that we offer our team members and we’ve been able to attract A-level talent as a result, especially since it is rare for other ad tech companies to offer location freedom. For example, we were able to attract our Chief Product Officer to MonetizeMore because location freedom was such a unique and valuable offering to his work lifestyle. He had been receiving new offers from ad tech companies on a weekly basis, however, it was the aspect of location freedom that cut through the clutter for him.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Publishers who monetize their audience via display ads can either outsource their ad operations so that one of MonetizeMore’s ad optimization teams will handle all their ad optimization tactics, execution and strategy. If publishers prefer to keep their ad operations in-house, they could use PubGuru (The Hootsuite of the ad technology industry) to get access to powerful ad technology to boost ad revenue performance and optimize via an easy-to-use platform while still getting full reporting transparency and maintain full ownership of their ad inventory. MonetizeMore developed PubGuru to compliment any in-house ad operations team.

PubGuru is going to be released in November 2018 and will establish itself as the go-to product to compliment any publisher’s in-house ad operation team to maintain and achieve:

– Full ad inventory ownership

– 100% transparency

– Ad revenue potential via sophisticated machine learning tech

– Optimization of their ad inventory auction on the fly via an easy-to-use platform

– Receiving notifications of ad ops errors and optimization suggestions

– Proactive traffic quality management

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lessons that others can learn from that?

When I started MonetizeMore it was challenging and exciting. I was able to break even by month five. This was thanks to getting my first client in MonetizeMore’s second month. I offered them a percentage of the ad revenue increase and was able to get traction quite quickly.

I was achieved traction quickly because of the below traits that I developed:
 Solutions Oriented: It’s not only important to be good at solving problems, I focused on the solutions rather than the problems. Too many ‘want’repreneurs (sic) dwell on the problem which ends up discouraging them. I not only looked for a solution, I looked for a solution that turns the problem into a blessing by making the business stronger than ever.

Intrepid: Since the start of my business, I was not scared of the unknown. I was ready to innovate despite the consequences. Big rewards lie ahead to those that dare to try things that others wouldn’t dare even think of. I was guided by abundance rather than fear.

Versatile: I was able to roll with the punches especially early-on. Many things happened that I couldn’t plan for. Early pivots were necessary. I was able to understand each part of the business early-on. That allowed me to run a leaner setup and understand each part which made me more capable to hire the right people for those positions eventually.

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

I would recommend the below to marketers who want not only avoid burnout but to thrive:

Don’t Let Money be Your Only Motivator: Working hard for superficial gains is not sustainable long-term. Overworking is one of the main contributing factors to burning out. Sacrificing yourself for superficial reasons will almost guarantee burnout because most people realize the outcome is underwhelming and eventually not worth it.

Balanced Work Lifestyle: Having a healthy balance between work and your personal life is key to avoiding burnout and thriving in the long-term. Marketing requires creativity which tends to be drained when you are overworked. Having a healthy personal life will help you recharge your creative juices and thrive in your marketing role.

Devote Yourself to Self-Development: The key to thriving in the long-term is devoting yourself to improving by at least a little bit every single day. If you are successful in doing so, the accumulated improvement will be successful. Make sure you work on the skills and traits that are most relevant to being a successful marketer. If so, nothing will stop you to thrive in your marketing role.

How do you define “Marketing”? Can you explain what you mean?

Advertising is paid promotion and marketing is the holistic umbrella that includes advertising, product, package, place, price, PR and customer relations. Marketing could also include internal communication, however, it mostly comprises of external communication strategy with the goal to feed the sales team with relevant leads.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I couldn’t say all my success came from the mentorship of just one person but rather many. My Mother has been a huge inspiration in terms of raising me to be balanced, grounded, prepared and generous to those that deserve it. I can attribute my analytical skills and frugalness to my Father.

I learned a lot of important business lessons early on from a business consultant involved in many self-employment seminars that I took. I still use some of the core business principles today that he taught me.

I remember how shrewd he would be during the business plan phase. While it was tough at the time, looking back people can be quite vague and fluffy with their business plans which leads to low quality execution. He would do a great job cutting through this and getting our attention which would lead us to make our business plans more executable.

Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners?

Below are some of our favorite marketing tools that have enabled MonetizeMore to scale:
— Yala: Uses machine learning to suggest when to send out social media announcements.

VWO: Run A/B tests on various aspects of your site to maximize or minimize results and track the best variations.

HotJar: View heat maps based on what your users are looking at, clicking on and having issues that are preventing important actions.

What are your “5 Non Intuitive Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses”?

Below are the top five non-intuitive marketing strategies that have worked well for MonetizeMore:

– Answer Questions: We answer ad optimization related questions on Google Product Forums, Quora, Twitter and Reddit. We have found that this enables positive interactivity with sub-communities, establishes us as authorities and drives many leads.

– Less Is More Content Strategy: We tested decreasing our blog posts per week to spend more time on each post. As a result, the posts were longer, better written and more search engine optimized. This resulted in increases in search traffic and qualified leads.

– Geo-Customization: While the digital industry tends to be dominated by the English language, there are still many companies that do not speak English or very little. As a result, many companies prefer to work with local vendors even if they get lower ROIs. We have tested customizing marketing material and messages to the local language of strategic markets and have experienced much higher engagement.

– Disclose Your Failures: Being open to disclose your business failures is a refreshing way to build trust with your audience. Most companies simply talk about how they’re great which creates skepticism amongst their audience. Disclosing failures is more honest and can also garner PR attention.

– Share Trade Secrets: The web has made sharing insider tactics much more common. To become an authority in an industry, sharing these tactics is a great strategy and a way to provide more value than your competitors. This will attract potential customers who could decide to use your product or service as a result. If they decide to replicate your product or service in-house instead, then they would have done this anyways.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

MonetizeMore is one of the pioneers of location independent businesses. We have proven that it is possible to run an effective business without any offices and over 120 full-time team members. Location and schedule freedom has shown to be competitive advantages for MonetizeMore in an industry where that is rarely offered. As a result, MonetizeMore has been able to acquire incredible talent, minimize turnover, out-innovate competitors and better tailor to international clients.

We can already see effect of the influence of location independent business pioneers like MonetizeMore has had on the technology industry. The trend of remote working has been trending as expectations for in-office work has decreased. I believe in the next ten years when someone mentions a new business, the next common question is: “Is that business location dependent or independent?”

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You will never write an extraordinary story until you realize you are the author”

This is an incredible quote because it enables me to enjoy my victories more and bounce back from my failures quickly. For victories, I know that even if there was a bit of perceived luck involved, it was my previous actions to inevitably lead to that event.

For my failures, I am able to learn from them immediately because I take responsibility and reflect on how I could have prevented the negative situation so that it never happens again. From there, I change a good thing into a bad thing by approaching the negative situation from a new clever angle. For example, we were disapproved by Google several years ago and lost millions as a result. We responded by improving our screening processes, diversifying our revenue streams and partnering with a fraud suppression company to prevent this issue from happening again. As a result, we have re-built the company to be more sustainable and resilient than ever. It ended up being a blessing in disguise!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Twitter: @monetizemore





Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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