“One of the greatest lessons I learned from success is that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, one of my companies currently does well because its products are simple and easy-to-use, and I didn’t realize the power of it until later on.”
Neil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg and Hello Bar. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 online marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies in the world. He was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under the age of 35 by the United Nations. Neil has also been awarded Congressional Recognition from the United States House of Representatives. – Via. quicksprout.com
The $100,000 challenge:
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R: Awesome. All right. Okay, first of all, Neil it’s great to interview you, I’m very honored and excited to learn from you and share your insights with my audience. I’m sitting here in beautiful Bozeman, Montana, so I was kind of curious where you are today.
N: I’m in Las Vegas, Nevada.
R: Oh, very good. Is it hot there?
N: It is, it should be over 100 degrees. I don’t know the weather right now, but I know the day will be at least 100 degrees.
R: Yeah, it’s starting to get warm here, but not that hot. Vegas is insane. All right, let’s go ahead and get started. So briefly, how did you get started in marketing, and what would you say gave you the knack for it?
N: Sure, so, with digital marketing, when I was a kid, I started a website and it was a job board. And I was naive, I thought when you created a website, people would come to it and naturally you’re popular. As we all know, that’s not the case, so eventually I had to learn how to market my business because I didn’t have much money as a kid. And that’s how I got started in digital marketing I would read sites like Click Z, I don’t know if they’re still around. I was reading all of these sites and getting more and more knowledge.
R: Very good. You’re considered one of the greatest growth hackers today, what would you say your definition of a growth hacker is, and when did you start practicing growth hacking as a marketing technique?
N: I’ve been doing it for years, probably before people really coined the term. I see growth hacking as the evolution of marketing. I know a lot of people don’t agree with that, but it’s just using different techniques to help grow a business. Right? So marketing typically was you drive traffic and generate sales, but what about about conversion optimization? What about using the product, what about referral programs, right? What about drip campaigns. There’s a lot of things you can actually do to grow a business, it’s not just related towards driving profit.
R: Gotcha. And do you think “growth hacking” is here to stay as kind of a buzzword, or do you think it’s going to evolve into just “marketing?”
N: I think it is here to stay, it’s just going to get bigger and bigger, give it like five years.
R: Very good. Neil, I’m fascinated by the 100,000 challenge that you’re putting on. Can you explain what that is and how that’s going?
N: Yeah so I thought it would be an interesting concept to start a blog on any topic, or a business on any topic. People wanted me to start a nutrition blog. And they were trying to say hey you know I have a lot of readers and they were trying to say hey, it’s not easy to create a blog and make money. So I said, “All right, pick a topic,” and the topic was nutrition. I’ll create a blog on a topic that I’m not familiar with–I don’t know nutrition–and it will be generating income per month within 12 months. That was the challenge. And I’m on…month three, and I just finished month three, or I’m about to finish month three. I have four days left.
R: What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing?
N: Building links, it’s really tough on the nutrition sites. So we have really good content, if you go to nutritionsecrets.com, you’ll see awesome content. I was writing content and having people help me, but my audience was like “hey you can’t use your name, you can’t do any of this,” so I found a random person, his name was Mike, and Mike was certified in some sort of nutrition, I forgot which, there are different certifications, and he writes the content, I’ve taught him how to blog, I teach him how to promote the content, teach him how to link build–he sucks at link building right now, but give him another 30 days and he should be good at it.
R: Very good. And Neil, you’ve had a ton of success in the business world and before I go into that, you’ve had amazing successes, but some failures, so what was the greatest lesson you learned from a success, and what was your greatest lesson learned from a failure?
N: One of the greatest lessons I learned from success is that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, one of my companies currently does well because its products are simple and easy-to-use, and I didn’t realize the power of it until later on. One of the biggest things I learned from failure is stick with what you know. I’ve tried a lot of different businesses that were good ideas, but if you don’t know it, stay away from it right? Just focus on what you’re good at.
R: That’s very good advice. Neil, what’s your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?
N: Meetings, phone calls, blogging, and a lot of emails. So that’s mainly it, I have an assistant who helps me stay productive.
R: Gotcha. So what would you say is one habit that you have that makes you more productive as a growth hacker?
N: So, there’s not really one habit that makes me productive, just in general, with anything I do, I move really fast, and I learn. It doesn’t matter if I’m learning a new sport, like I’ve been doing a lot of Wu Tai lately, or it doesn’t matter whether I’m doing marketing or entrepreneurship, I’m learning. Whatever I do I give it my all, I learn quickly, I make mistakes, and I make sure I avoid the mistakes over and over again, right? So I’m very data-oriented and process-oriented with everything I do in life.
R: Very cool. What would you say as an individual, is one specific thing you do over and over again that you recommend everybody else do? This could be you know, a lifestyle habit, a productivity hack or just some secret that you found about life in general.
N: Yeah, so emails are a large portion of my life, every time I open my inbox and open a new email I make sure I read it and respond to it. A lot of people will go back to it later. It’s inefficient, because when you come back to it later you have to re-read the email.
R: That’s good. Yeah. Okay. Neil what recent marketing trend is exciting you the most right now?
N: Recent marketing trend that’s excited me…Content is really working. And I know people are like “Oh content marketing’s played out, everyone already does it,” but people don’t write really, exceptionally good content. Like check out nutritionsecrets, check out quickspout, check out my personal blog neilpatel.com, you’ll see that my content goes above and beyond. Like, if you really put in the time and energy to produce the best content out there, you’ll do well.
R: Great, and do you think that long-form content is still the best form of content?
N: I do because it helps you get ready for more long-tail terms, it’s very thorough, someone reads it and there’s a much more likely chance that it’s actionable.
R: Got it, and with content marketing being so prevalent, obviously you know, writing skills for individuals are very very important for the ability to communicate really well, do you foresee copywriting becoming a huge field for bloggers and content marketing teams?
N: I do, I just think it’s going to take some time before it really blows up in the world.
R: What’s one pain point that you have in the digital space that you wish someone would fix?
N: I wish there were just more creative people. Obviously it took a long time to hire super creative people, right? Like that’s what makes you the best marketers out there.
R: Totally. What do you think could be done differently for individuals to spark that creative gene that they need to awaken in themselves?
N: You need to just keep trying new things, not just in business, but in life in general. Creativity’s all about experimentation, having fun, and just testing things out.
R: Kind of like applying growth hacking to your life, right?
R: That’s great. What is one book that you would recommend that every marketer should read?
N: Ogilvy has a lot of books, I would actually check out a lot of his books, and the reason being is that he’s the father of advertising, he knows his stuff especially when it comes to copywriting.
R: And Neil, besides your blogs, and your personal blog and kissmetrics and the other places you’re producing content, where else do you advise people to learn from? Like websites, blogs, maybe following influential people on Twitter, who do you suggest people learn from if they’re interested in becoming more apt in the growth hacking field?
N: Check out growthhackers.com, I think Growthhackers TV? Like growthhackers.tv? That’s another good site. You can also read a lot of the marketing blogs out there like Hubspot, Moz, and Search Engine Land.
R: Very good. Neil, where can people learn more about you and your current projects and what you’ve done so far, and your current companies?
R: Great, perfect. And lets go ahead and finish this up with kind of a more personal question, and then we’ll hop off the call here. What inspires you and motivates you on a personal level to be successful every day?
N: I just love it, I love what I do. It’s fun for me. That’s the main reason I do it. I enjoy helping other people out, watching other entrepreneurs and businesses grow, and all of this is just fun for me.
R: I like that answer. You know, really searching for something that you can be passionate about, that gives you joy, is really important to stay on top of that lifestyle. That exponential growth lifestyle. Awesome. Well Neil, I really appreciate you talking to me, answering these questions and taking time out of your day. It’s been a pleasure.
N: Yeah, pleasure talking to you as well.