Wise Marketing Secrets Interview Series #157: Mark Schaefer

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How did you start out as a marketer?

I fell in love with marketing during my first marketing class in college. It just seemed to be the cutting edge of business … and it is!

Looking back what is your hardest struggle when it came to delivering results?

I actually love hard marketing problems so that is what really keeps me going.

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One that comes to mind is a project I did with Adidas where they were about three years behind in entering a market.

All of the good ideas seemed to be taken and well-executed by their competitors, but we were able to find a way to zig where everybody was zagging and built a great business.

That was very difficult and I’m particularly proud of that one.

How did you get your first client back then, and what kind of service did you do for them?

I had to start out small like everyone. I think my first client was a catering business.

I helped them build a strategy, and it was a good one, but they couldn’t stay focused and chased every shiny new thing so it ended up being a failure.

Lesson learned.

What do you find most rewarding about what you do?

Every week, somebody tells me I changed their life or their business.

I think I would be very lucky to hear that once in my entire life.

So hearing that a lot and knowing that I am having a positive impact on the world is pretty humbling and rewarding.

We have a lot of readers who are bent on becoming freelancers, aside from freelancing how else can someone earn online, and what is your advise?

I think the magic of our age is that the web has been so liberating, How do you make money on the web? That is only limited by your imagination.

I have 20 different courses of income — all based on the web. A link to that article is here >


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If you were given the chance to build your career all over again what would you do differently so that you will achieve your dreams faster?

When I started out on the web, nobody knew what they were doing, including me.

I made a lot of mistakes but everybody did, and that’s how we learned.

Since then, I have written many helpful books to help people navigate through the confusion — “KNOWN” for personal branding, “Born to Blog” for blogging, “Content Code” for SEO — so it doesn’t have to be as confusing as it used to be now that we have guides like that.

It’s hard to say what I would do differently since each mistake was still a step in the right direction but I suppose I would have become serious about consistent content creation earlier in the game.

How is your typical work day structured?

I have no typical work day, which is what I love about my work.

My work day is dictated by the current priorities, which might mean doing research for a client strategy, working on a new speech, or having a day of personal branding coaching sessions.

Right now, I’m working on a new book so that takes up a huge amount of time. And in a few months that will be over and my day will be different again!

Can you tell us about a time where you had to put in significant effort up front and then wait a long time for success?

Pretty much everything I do is aimed at the long-game.

It is hard work building a reputation through content, winning at SEO, monetizing a brand, etc.

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I can’t think of anything in digital marketing that can be an overnight success other than maybe digital advertising.

What recently-developed marketing strategy, technique or tool interests you the most right now?

I think AI is going to have a far-reaching impact and change the nature of our work.

I am also watching with fascinating how marketing is evolving during the pandemic.

Companies trying to stick to some ad agency script are falling flat, while companies who can adjust to the needs of the day will become legendary.

You can read about these ideas here: https://businessesgrow.com/2020/05/18/pandemic/

What do you do to stay up to date with new marketing techniques?

I am a voracious reader. You have to be to keep up.

There are probably 20 different sites I read with consistency.

Which one book/blog post would you recommend every Marketer should read?

“Marketing Rebellion” is a wake-up call for every marketer.

What advice would you share with other Marketer’s who want to become more productive?

Focus on the three critical activities that drive revenue.

If you are asked to do something else, either say no, or delegate.

If there’s one Marketing Guru you’d recommend who and why.

I’m a big fan of Martin Lindstrom.

He’s data-oriented, forward-thinking, and usually correct!


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