Ryan Deiss has built a billion-dollar digital marketing empire.
Ryan is the co-founder and CEO of DigitalMarketer, the leading provider of digital marketing training and certifications. His community is comprised of 15,000 paid members, and over a half a million subscribers.
He is also the founder and host of Traffic & Conversion Summit, which is the largest digital marketing event in North America.
It's fair to say that he is one of the world's leading digital marketing experts. If you want to learn how to master online marketing from an expert, this is an interview that you don't want to miss!
Watch the video below:
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Digital marketing is the future of marketing.
The digital world is changing at a rapid pace. If your business isn't changing with it, you will get left behind. Leveraging the power of digital marketing should be the goal of every business owner. The problem is that there are so many ways for how you can market your business online. This causes a lot of business owners to go into overwhelm, and inevitably, failure.
Without a solid digital marketing strategy in place, you are only wasting your time and money. A report by SmartInsights.com shows that 50% of marketers have active digital programs, yet operate without any strategy at all.
This is where Ryan Deiss's expertise comes into play.
His company, DigitalMarketer, helps people make sense of their digital marketing efforts. More importantly, he offers actionable marketing tools and tactics that have been proven to get businesses results. When you have a solid digital marketing strategy in place, it allows you to acquire more clients and create brand awareness at a much faster pace. In our interview together, Ryan talks about how digital marketing has changed. More importantly, he talks about how you can rise above the noise and win. Let's dive in!
Can you share a little bit about your story and how you’ve got to where you are today?
My story goes all the way back to 1999. That is when I made my first sale online. I was a freshman at the University of Texas in Austin. We were right there in the middle of the dot.com boom. This was before the big burst happened. It seemed like everyone was starting a business. Entrepreneurial energy was everywhere. In fact, Michael Dell started his computer company in the door room right across from me. Like most college kids, I was broke. Early in my freshman year, I met a girl.
I knew within a couple of weeks that I was going to spend my life with her.
However, I also knew that I would eventually have to buy her an engagement ring. An online business seemed like a good place to start in order to make that happen. In the beginning, I was publishing eBooks, followed by selling software, popup blockers, and generators. I've always been drawn to figuring out what people are looking for and then doing my best to give it to them. I continued to grow my business throughout college and ended up getting a job right afterward. However, after six months in my 9 to 5 job, I quit. I've been working on my business ever since, which leads us to where I am today.
What does the world of Internet marketing look like now and where do you see it going in the future?
Technology tends to move in five phases. The first phase is discovery. That is what kicks it off.
The second phase is proliferation where everybody jumps in and goes crazy. We definitely saw this occur in the early 2000s.
The third phase is standardization, which ultimately creates stage four, which is consolidation. That is where we've been for the last 4-5 years. Facebook and Google represent almost 80% of all online ad spend. Amazon represents nearly 50% of all e-commerce sales.
Recently, it was announced that 2019 is the year that digital marketing will outspend traditional advertising.
When that happens, technology enters phase five, which is innovation. This is when people have to decide if they are going to embrace innovation or continue doing the same thing while getting disrupted. We are seeing a new changing of the guard. It's time to start doing things differently or we are going to get disrupted.
What is the most important thing that marketers should focus on today that will also serve them in the future?
In the past, it's always been about the tactics and how to find loopholes in the algorithm. That is what won the day, so to speak. As a marketer, it's time to start talking to your customer. This is what I'm doing across all of my companies. We are sending emails that ask people to respond. We start a conversation instead of just asking people to click. We are also doing SMS marketing to start text conversations with people on our team. As opposed to optimizing conversions and clicks, we are now trying to optimize conversations.
Automation is great for the economy.
However, a lot of people are losing their jobs because the retail sector is getting squashed. Everything is going online. This is great for the marketers and entrepreneurs that want to set up automated business and sit on a beach. However, I know that I'm going to be able to grow my business a lot faster than others will because I am willing to talk to my customers.
Can you share about the importance of building a brand in today’s digital world?
The word “brand” means different things to different people. I think that Jeff Bezos gave the greatest definition of a brand when he said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room.” That makes a lot of sense but it isn't that helpful. However, it does prompt us to ask a new question which is, “How do we get people to say nice things about us when we aren't in the room?”
Let's say that I moved to a new city and I've only got one friend who lives there.
I really want that friend to go to a party before me and say, “Hey, my friend is coming. He's a great guy.” Why? Because I want people to talk about me. The way that we change the conversation is through building a community. An example of this is a Facebook group. Keep in mind that a group like this shouldn't be titled around your product or your brand. Strive to build your own community. That is what the Traffic and Conversion Summit has been all about. It's a home for digital marketers.
How important is content marketing to business success?
Every business owner needs to be doing content marketing. However, the way that you do it has to change. Everybody is doing it. You can't just blog twice a week. There is too much noise. We are post-proliferation, standardization, and consolidation. I think that you need to go to the extreme and produce something that wows people.
Strive to make your content so much bigger and better than just a blog post. At the same time, you also need to go small. For example, if you publish a 2-minute video, make sure that you answer a stupid question that everybody is wondering about.
I think that video marketing is powerful.
However, it's tough if you aren't used to it. I'll be transparent… this interview is not comfortable for me. By nature, I'm an introvert. If I could go back in time, I would do all of this under a pseudonym. Speaking in front of people makes me nervous. Nevertheless, I do it because I like money and I like to win. Every day I choose to do the work.
What is a core belief that has contributed to your success?
Courage is not the absence of fear. Rather, courage is the willingness to go out there after you've just peed your pants. I say this a lot when I'm on speaking in front of an audience. Even more importantly, I say it to my team. I hear a lot of people say, “I could never do that.” What are we really required to do as entrepreneurs today? We aren't building pyramids or being asked to march across whole continents.
Get over yourself. Just do the work and show up every single day.
I work for the customer. A lot of people position themselves as the God of their brand. You're not. You're the messenger. My friend Donald Miller said it best – “You're the guide, not the star.” Keeping those two things in mind helps to reset the ego and get back to work.
How did you make the transition from having a personal brand to building a brand that is not dependent on you?
I'm not making a value judgment that everybody should build a brand that is independent of their name. Tony Robbins has a personal brand. My understanding is that Tony wants this. If you are fulfilled and you want your name in the spotlight, that's okay. You just have to acknowledge that you're doing it more for the fame than for the fortune. Personally, I've never wanted fame.
However, I started with a personal brand, so not leveraging it would have been foolish on my part. Let's use the Universe as a metaphor to explain this. Are you the sun through which all of the other planets orbit, or do you want to help to create a new star? I wanted that new star to be a company brand, not me. If I'm the star, I'm the product. I don't want to be the product. Rather, I want to be the owner in the owner's box. I want to be the person who can afford to pay for other people's salaries.
Get clear on what you want. Once you do that, then you have to ask yourself, “What is my genius?”
From there, you have to figure out how you can turn your genius into an artifact that can be transferrable outside of yourself. For me, it started off with the million dollar napkin. I had an idea for a 5-step funnel concept. I didn't have any strategy in place when I did that. However, now it has become something that is independent of me. A lot of people want to hold onto their ideas. That's the wrong posture to take. You need to be open but put it into a form that others can pass along to someone else.
Secondly, you need to become the spokesperson for your thing. Any time that the spotlight is shining on you, you need to become a mirror and redirect it back to your thing. It's not about you. Rather, it's about your message. You are always pointing to something else. As you do this, people don't stop giving you credit. Actually, they give you even more credit.
Thirdly, you need to start recruiting other people to share your message with the world. This may look like a value-added reseller program. We certify agencies and let them put our logo right next to theirs. We let them teach our content. It's no longer my content. It's my brands content, which makes it other people's content as well. This concept could also manifest itself in a team.
At the very first Traffic and Conversion Summit, I was on stage interviewing every single person.
I never left that stage. However, today, my team is on stage. Hopefully, they become another planet orbiting my sun. Maybe they become a star themselves. If you have a good relationship with your team members and you work with great people, they may start their own planetary orbit. However, now it's in your broader galaxy.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their online marketing journey?
Deliver really big ideas to really focused audiences. If you are just getting started and trying to get on top of the tallest building from the onset, you will not get noticed.
The mistake that a lot of entrepreneurs make is that they think that they need to start small. Just because you are going to start small in your market selection, does not mean that you should start small in your idea. Think big, in terms of movements. Get really clear on what you fundamentally believe to be true about the Universe and your place in it, and tell that story. Even when you're not quite sure what your story is, tell a story. See what resonates with people. Everybody has a beginning and it never looks fancy.
Do you mind sharing what people can expect if they attend Traffic and Conversion Summit?
Ten years ago, all of the events that existed were pitch-fest style. They were comprised of one speaker after another who were given 60 minutes of pseudo content followed by a 30-minute pitch. My partner and I decided to do an event that other people would want to attend. The foundation of the summit was built around high-quality content. Early on, it was the event for entrepreneurs.
Today, digital marketing has won.
This is why our event has now become the premier gathering for marketers. We really love creating that sense of community. I'm excited to share that, in 2020, we will be expanding the summit to the East Coast, Europe, and Asia.
Ryan Deiss is an entrepreneur to admire.
He has built an empire from the ground up. As an entrepreneur, I am so inspired by his work. I hope that his message has resonated with you. I have attended the Traffic and Conversion Summit six times now. Every time I go, I learn so much great knowledge about digital marketing that I can apply to my business.
More importantly, it has given me the opportunity to connect with success-minded people who inspire me to level up. If you have yet to attend the summit, I encourage you to check it out! It's been a game changer for myself and my team.
Are you ready to rise above the noise and win?
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