Website Re-brand: It’s important to do a website re-design at least every few years to keep it fresh with the latest website design standards. Sometimes this is in coordination with a new domain and domain structure. A website re-design is a great opportunity to re-visit the success of the website and to improve the online marketing strategy.
As part of our series about “Brand Makeovers” I had the pleasure to interview Kean Graham.
Kean Graham is the CEO of MonetizeMore, an 8-figure ad tech company that is a Google Certified Partner with 100+ full-time team members remotely based across the planet. MonetizeMore was conceived in the mountains of Machu Picchu and has grown to $23M in revenues. Graham has traveled to over 90 countries during the 10 years that he has been growing MonetizeMore.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Ioriginally 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.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing or branding mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I started the business it was challenging and exciting. I was able to break-even by month five. My first client was an employer that laid me off a year before. I offered them a percentage of the ad revenue increase and was able to make them additional millions. At the time, I was a one-person company and communicated myself as such. Since I communicated the business as just myself, they looked at my company as just an ex-employee. As a result, when I was increasing their ad revenues by over 300% and earning strong commissions, the executives saw this as unjust that an ex-employee was making 4x more than what he used to earn. As a result, they strong-armed a deal with much less commission.
Ultimately, my mistake was not communicating my business as something bigger than just myself. I could have avoided that re-negotiation because it’s reasonable for a larger company to receive large commissions to pay for overhead, technology and employees. Ever since that mistake, I always communicated my business as “we” rather than “I” even when it was just me out of habit!
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 lesson that others can learn from that?
MonetizeMore’s first tipping point was when it broke even at month 5 to become a profitable business. However, MonetizeMore first started seeing the light of scalability in the fourth year when I started hiring team members to be able to handle the surplus of demand. After getting over the training hump, we continued to hire and saw our largest growth % year in our history.
I was convinced that it’s possible to scale a business completely remote and that MonetizeMore had greater potential than I’d ever imagine. If I’d never taken that initial risk to hire team members, MonetizeMore wouldn’t be where it is today and I would still be the bottleneck to the business and my own ideal lifestyle. I’d recommend other solo-preneurs to make this jump when they experience a surplus of demand and are the bottleneck to their business.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Many large publishers that have ad space as a revenue source, have a major pain by having many ad revenue sources that have their own reporting interfaces. In order to find out the ad revenues they made that day and the overall ad revenue performance, most publishers copy and paste the ad revenue stats to an Excel spreadsheet.
We are curing this pain that many publishers experience with a PubGuru feature called unified reporting. Instead of publishers having to assign someone to spend hours on data entry, they can log into an interface to see their real-time ad revenue stats on one dashboard. In addition to this, PubGuru helps ad monetized publishers by solving the below pain points:
– No idea what parts of their publisher business are most profitable: PubGuru’s revenue attribution report provides revenue stats for each traffic source so they can decide where to invest in next.
– Publisher ad inventories tend to break often: PubGuru Ad Inspector crawls their page in real-time and uncovers any ad setup issues and how to fix them.
– No clue how to increase ad revenues: Smart notifications can be found in PubGuru to specifically recommend what to adjust on their site via step-by-step instructions to increase their ad revenues.
– Invalid traffic could destroy their business overnight: Traffic Cop detects and blocks invalid traffic to prevent any ad network account bans and revoked revenues. It also boosts traffic quality to entice bidding from the largest advertisers that watch traffic quality metrics per domain.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Back in 2013/2014 I was overworking myself on a path towards burn out. This was the first serious growth stage of the business. I started hiring full-time team members and training proved to be a significant challenge. I not only had to spend more time in my day training them, I still had to do my normal sales, marketing, operations, ad optimization and accounting tasks to keep the business running smoothly. This was even more important because there were new salaries that had to be paid for so the pressure was mounting.
By 2015, the team was at a more self-sustaining level so I could finally focus on higher level tasks. I was able to engineer myself out of a lot of the day-to-day tasks and could finally achieve a healthy level of work-life balance. If I were to breakdown avoiding burnout and to thrive instead into specific steps while growing a company, they would be:
- Hire new team members
- Train each new team member the core of the business
- While training, record the training material so it can easily be used again for the next hires
- Establish important teams like marketing, sales, operations, support, accounting/finance and product so these tasks can be delegated
- Engineer yourself out of the day-to-day by training clients to stop contacting you directly and to delegate high-level problem solving responsibilities to other team members.
- Turn off all sound and vibration notifications from your phone and computer.
- Do an efficiency overhaul of your email accounts.
- Engineer balance into your day-to-day.
- Recognize symptoms of over-work.
- Build habits establishing and maintaining balance in your life.
Ok, let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?
Brand Marketing: More of a long-term marketing strategy to improve awareness and recall of the brand while purposefully adjusting brand associations to maximize the overall brand value.
Product Marketing: This form of marketing has more of a short-term approach to drive sales of a product. It’s strategy’s goals are to get direct response which involve marketing specific features, promotions and short-term value adds.
To sum up, brand marketing is more of a long-term approach that focuses on the soft-side of marketing while product marketing focuses more on the short-term and can be more easily quantified via short-term sales and leads.
Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?
It’s important to invest in a brand and marketing to develop a long term competitive advantage. This investment builds a valuable brand which leads to greater customer loyalty, ability to charge higher prices, increased sales conversions and greater referral rates via positive word of mouth. As a company invests in a successful branding strategy, it builds a marketing moat that enables growth of the company while securing the current revenues.
Let’s now talk about rebranding. What are a few reasons why a company would consider rebranding?
We are actually going through a re-branding of our logo as part of MonetizeMore’s 10th anniversary. We are modernizing our logo and making it more integrateable with each part of our marketing mix. With that said, keeping a brand fresh is an important ongoing focus.
The reason why we’re doing a soft re-brand is to maintain a brand association with MonetizeMore of being cutting edge and modern. Since we’re a tech company, this brand association is key to our success so having a logo that looks old simply doesn’t work. Over a ten-year period, things in the industry change. Market demands change! Therefore, it’s important to have a brand that reflects these changes.
Are there downsides of rebranding? Are there companies that you would advise against doing a “Brand Makeover”? Why?
Re-branding is expensive and risky. There have definitely been companies that have hurt their brand by trying to re-brand. Therefore, it’s important that sufficient thought and resources are put into a re-brand so leadership can be confident that the re-brand will yield positive ROI.
I would advise companies that have old and trusted brands that have very high value against re-branding. There’s no reason for them to re-brand if their brand is already strong. Plus, if part of the value of the brand is that semblance of old, wise and trusted then changing the brand would lose that.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Can you share 5 strategies that a company can do to upgrade and re-energize their brand and image”? Please tell us a story or an example for each.
- Logo Re-brand: Upgrading the logo after many years works well for many companies to keep the logo current and spot-check the brand associations with the logo. It’s good to re-visit it and at least make slight improvements. MonetizeMore is currently going through a logo re-brand as part of our 10th anniversary.
- Name Re-brand: Some companies that have bad reputations over-time or because a sudden string of negative events can benefit from a name re-brand. This allows them to start from fresh rather than dealing with the uphill battle of a negatively valued brand. For example, we’ve seen this happen with SumoMe after buying Sumo.com. After the purchase, their name changed to the domain and the Founder leveraged this by creating great content on his podcast about how they went about with the re-brand and what the results were.
- Slogan Re-brand: This re-brand is more frequent and common as slogans tend to have a certain lifetime before they are forgotten. This is a great way to gain brand awareness if the slogan catches on and/or to adjust brand associations if successful. You’ll notice big names like McDonalds will come out with new slogans every few years.
- Website Re-brand: It’s important to do a website re-design at least every few years to keep it fresh with the latest website design standards. Sometimes this is in coordination with a new domain and domain structure. A website re-design is a great opportunity to re-visit the success of the website and to improve the online marketing strategy. MonetizeMore have done this every 2–3 years.
- Holistic Re-brand: Sometimes it’s worth to re-brand everything. This can tend to be the case if there’s a name re-brand because if the re-brand is that necessary then it’s makes sense to re-brand the logo, slogan and website as well. We’ve seen this happen before with oil companies after nasty oil spills that were all over the news.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job doing a “Brand Makeover”. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
Back in 1997, the initial name for Google was Backrub. They made a very good choice to adjust it to Google rather than have a name connected to backlinks which was a major differentiation of their search engine. The re-brand was done so well that very few people even know that it used to be called Backrub!
Many businesses start with an unfortunate first name that had little effort put in to come up with it. Once a business starts to get traction, founders tend to put more effort into the name and brand to come up with something better. This is a good lesson for Founders just starting out their business. Don’t worry about name and branding till you get traction but make sure to make the change while the company is still small and agile.
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 130 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 creating invalid traffic detection and suppression technology called Traffic Cop 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 online?
Thank you so much for these excellent insights! We wish you continued success in your work.