The Content Hacker Spotlight has shifted, and it's pointing straight at all-star marketer Sujan Patel.
Needless to say, we're super-excited to pick his brain!
You've probably heard of Sujan, but if not, here's a cheat sheet:
- He runs multiple successful companies, including WebProfits and Ramp Ventures.
- He built Single Grain into a powerhouse marketing agency with AJ Kumar.
- He headed up the digital marketing strategy for high-profile companies like Intuit, SalesForce, and many other Fortune 500s.
- His mission is to help other entrepreneurs and businesses grow 10x.
- He's Neil Patel's cousin.
Needless to say, Sujan has a ton of great insights for us in today's interview. Specifically, he shared one simple marketing "non-hack" that makes so much sense, it might make your brain do this: 🤯
Let's not waste any more time. Read on! 👇
Content Hacker Spotlight Interview: with Sujan Patel
Q: When did you get started in marketing, and why?
A: I got started in marketing 14 years ago.
Why? SEO, specifically. I got started when my cousin, Neil Patel, turned me onto it – he said, "You should check out this SEO thing."
I did some "Yahoo-ing," since Google was too early for the time – I was just barely finding out about Google.
I think I just liked the fast pace of digital marketing ever-evolving. It's a challenge at all times.
Q: What's your favorite part of what you do today?
A: I love just working on different projects. I work on multiple companies – I run a company called Ramp Ventures, we have eight SaaS companies. I also have a consulting business where we help people with digital marketing.
So, just working on different things, seeing different challenges, and helping people grow their business. I just like numbers, seeing numbers grow. It's fun! That's kind of what keeps me going.
Q: What's one of the biggest challenges you have overcome in your work as a marketer?
A: The biggest challenge, I would say, is having a voice or having an impact on the product, the business, the service – whatever it is – the actual thing you're selling or marketing.
So, marketing and sales are always in front of customers, they're very close to customers because they're talking to them, getting data, there's some form of relationship there. The person running the business, developing the product – not always the case, maybe at some point it was, but maybe there's a change, some feedback.
Getting that feedback into the product, the service, changing something, is awesome, it's pretty fun. Just kind of seeing that marketing impact on the actual product – the end result – is cool.
Q: How has the industry landscape changed since you started?
A: Now marketing is digital marketing. More people are spending money on advertising. When I started Facebook, it was for college kids. YouTube didn't exist. It was just AdWords. Blogging. Long-form content was considered 600 words, and now long-form content is thousands of words. In-depth content is a "thing."
It was easier to game the system. There were so many factors. Now it's really more of an omnichannel approach, rather than just talk at the customer, or do ads and get traffic.
You have to have the right messaging. You have to remarket to them and figure out ways to stay in touch and have multiple touchpoints. It's more competitive, because it's easier than ever to start a business, and there are a lot more businesses starting. It's awesome to see the new wave of businesses revolutionize in the ecommerce space – companies coming in and knocking down the brick-and-mortar companies.
Q: What does the future of marketing look like to you?
A: I think AI [artificial intelligence] will have a bit of an impact. I think more mobile-centric things will happen, or more hand-held device-centric things, like people will be making more decisions on their phones. People will be using their phones more and more in their day-to-day for business. I think that will change with voice, too, and voice will have a bigger impact.
I think AI is still a little early, it's a bit of a novelty, but I think that will have a bigger impact over the next 5-10 years, where you talk at something and things happen. I have an Alexa at home, and I use that thing to turn the lights off in my living room and kitchen, I use it to arm my alarm, I use it to ping my wife when she's upstairs in the bedroom or a different room, etc. So, some marketing is going to get in there somehow.
6. What key traits or skills does it take to be a marketing leader?
A: You have to enjoy challenges. You have to enjoy things changing often – it's really, really important that you enjoy it.
You have to be a people person, even though you're hiding behind the web a lot of the time. A lot of great marketing happens with people.
Copywriting is a good thing, or if you have any HTML knowledge – also awesome.
7. What are some of your favorite tools or hacks for marketers?
A: I don't really have any hacks.
I think the best "hack" is having a bad-ass product. Then lay marketing inside your product.
Old-school example: Hotmail. They included "Sent from Hotmail" in every email signature. Super simple, but very effective.
Ask how you can "inlay" marketing into your product, or maybe market research.
Another example: Mailshake – we started years later than our competition, so when we were building the product, I went and researched all of our competitors' reviews. What people liked; what people didn't like. People were complaining about all the software being too expensive and too hard to use. We pretty much made the exact opposite – super cost-effective, really easy to use, super-simple, people can learn it without training.
As a result, more than half of our growth comes from word-of-mouth. So, if we stopped all marketing today, we would still be growing. I think that's not the case for a lot of companies.
In terms of "hack," build a brand. Build a personal brand before you build a company. It opens doors. It gets you things you wouldn't be exposed to otherwise.
8. Do you have any daily habits, hobbies, or rituals you couldn't survive without?
A: Yes – exercise in the morning. I also love reading or listening to audiobooks. I use Pocket and Audible. Anytime I read or come across an interesting article I don't have time to read on the spot, I'll add it to Pocket. Pocket has a neat feature where you can listen to it – it will read it to you. Super awesome.
I'm on Slack all the time, too.
9. Coffee or tea?
A: Coffee, hands-down. Tea is for weaklings.
(Just kidding. Tea is nice.) But I love coffee.
10. What are some great blogs we should be reading or people we should be following on social media?
A: Too many to count. Pass!
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Thank you, Sujan Patel, for sitting down and taking part in our Content Hacker Spotlight!