I got started in digital marketing when a friend and I started a web design business circa 1998. I was 13 at the time, and dreamed about designing amazing websites like these…
Soon after I became interested in affiliate marketing, and started selling web hosting as an affiliate. My first affiliate pay check was a fat $2.30. Most of my friends and family suspected I was doing something illegal.
This lead to learning about the early forms of SEO (aka keyword stuffing), PPC (I ran ads on GoTo.com the first PPC search engine), and content marketing (I wrote articles for e-zines and promoted affiliate offers in my byline).
I developed a passion for direct response copywriting, and understanding the psychology of persuasion and marketing. When I was 15, I started working as a freelance copywriter.
Putting some Kung Fu into my marketing
Shortly after I started freelance copywriting, I came across a book on kung fu. Using the money from one of my first copywriting clients, I flew to Asia to learn kung fu and zen meditation from the author of the book.
This introduced me to a code of ethics and a framework for personal growth that laid the foundation for a lot of my core values today; living with integrity, making a contribution in the lives of others, and always learning/optimizing/improving myself.
Kung fu and zen philosophy also provided a unique lens to look at the world through, including the world of digital marketing. A zen approach is simple, direct, and effective – stripping away unnecessary parts to uncover the driving force behind something. But most digital marketing was overly complex, convoluted, and deceptive. Kung fu pushed me to think about marketing in a different way.
Bruce Lee said it best…
Learning new styles of marketing kung fu
Digital marketing evolved rapidly, and a lot changed from when I first started.
Over time, I continued seeking out masters of different forms of marketing. I slowly added new styles to my marketing kung fu.
- Digital analytics
- A/B testing
- UX design
- Growth and innovation processes
- Marketing automation
- Machine learning and personalization
- User research
I helped 100’s of start-ups with their marketing, and saw how different tactics and strategies worked in the real world (many failed miserably). I sold a wide range of products like industrial laser cutters, health supplements, seminars, books, and software.
Exploring start up hubs around the world as a digital nomad
In my mid-20’s I started spending a few months a year abroad, and exploring the start-up scenes in cities like Berlin and Bangkok. I’ve had the opportunity to work with and learn from some really awesome start-up entrepreneurs in different corners of the world.
For the past three years I’ve been living as a full-time digital nomad and traveling the world with my wife, who also works in digital marketing. Here’s a picture of us in Thailand.
For the past five years I’ve focused heavily on growth marketing for SaaS startups. Here are a few things I love about working in SaaS…
1. SaaS teams tend to be more analytical, process oriented, and iterative in their thinking (probably derived from the nature of software development at the core of the business).
I think that has lead to a lot of innovation around data driven growth marketing practices. I enjoy learning about and pushing the edge of these processes and strategies, so SaaS is an exciting place to work.
2. I’m a self-confessed app junkie.
I’m constantly evaluating new apps and looking for anything to get a slight edge in productivity and happiness. Most apps don’t make the cut, and I often experiment cutting myself off from existing apps to re-validate their value in my life.
3. I see SaaS and software in general as playing a core role in some of the most exciting new technologies coming down the pipe like machine learning, AR, VR, voice interfaces, IoT, blockchain, and robotics.
Software is the thread that will weave it all together, and I’m excited about playing a small role in shaping the story of how it will improve people’s lives.