Growth Hacking Interview Series #117: Mike Ramsey
Mike Ramsey is the founder of Nifty Marketing and Niftylaw. He also is a founding member of LocalUniversity and spends a lot of his time writing and speaking on digital marketing. He has a wonderful wife, 3 crazy kids, and does it all from Burley, Idaho
How did you start out as a marketer?
Random enough, I started in college selling Idaho Potatoes online. I keep the site up (though I don’t sell potatoes anymore) to remember where I came from.
Looking back, what is your hardest struggle when it came to delivering results?
I think the hardest thing to do is not spam. Spam still works. It can bring fast results that will make your clients happy right until it stops working.
I think if you are going to play the game right, you have to be great at setting client expectations on the time it will take to see results from organic efforts and VERY FEW clients truly have the patience to wait that long.
How did you get your first client back then, and what kind of service did you do for them?
While in college, I was introduced to a few companies through friends and families. I largely focused on web design with really basic SEO.
I got into maps because most of the clients were small businesses and I saw this local map pack showing up in the search results. I started to tinker with it and here we are.
What do you find most rewarding about what you do?
Having a career that hits on things I love to do:
I consider myself lucky to have found a career where so many of the things I have been passionate about can be combined into one. I left high school wanting to be an actor or the President. This is a good balance between the two. 😉
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 advice?
I actually don’t recommend, “earning online”. I think the best way to learn is to go to work at an agency or an online company in person.
You just will get a much faster education than paying the price yourself trying to sift through all the bad advice out there and crappy “get rich quick” products that are on the market today.
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?
The answer to the question right before really hits home for me. I taught myself instead of interning or working for another company.
I think I could have probably cut out 2-3 years of hard knocks by seeing how an agency functioned, what they did, and how they were structured. I started this company right out of college and did the best I could with the knowledge I had.
We have made it, but a part of me thinks even 6 months learning somewhere else would have really helped.
How is your typical work day structured?
I started reading industry news right when I wake up. Largely from my twitter feed. This is usually around 6:30-7:00am.
I “try” to exercise. Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don’t.
I read scriptures daily. I know that’s not for everyone, but honestly, my religion is a big part of my day and decision making and I spend a lot of time praying/meditating about decisions.
I am usually on the email first thing in the morning, which sometimes can take 1-2 hours based on the load. Then, I am usually working on a various product or on the phone for the rest of the day.
I try my best to be done by 5. Sometimes it's much more. Some days are much less. Over the years I have been able to balance better due to having a family. I don’t kid myself. This is a lifestyle business so you have to build it for the lifestyle that you want.
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?
The first 3 years of Nifty were like that. I hustled. I went to events. I wrote a lot. I tried to become known and I caught some very lucky breaks. But, the first few years 12-14 hour days were the norm. That is a heavy price to pay for your body and mind.
Can you tell us about a past situation where you had to juggle multiple projects with competing deadlines?
Every day! Multitasking is just part of life. Nothing taught me more about time management than spending two years as a missionary for my church in England. I moved there when I was 19. We worked everyday from about 9-9 at night and had to balance appointments and get a lot done.
I followed some of the time management skills from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and have tried to keep up the same systems since then.
What recently-developed marketing strategy, technique or tool interests you the most right now?
Facebook Ads for Local search. I think the demographic targeting combined with location targeting is one of the most intriguing platforms there is. So much can be done.
What do you do to stay up to date with new marketing techniques?
I have spent a long time developing a list of people I follow on my twitter account that share great content. This allows me to keep my pulse across various online marketing subjects. Of course, there are always a few blogs that are must reads:
Can you tell us about a project you’re most proud of from your past work history?
I have a lot of NDA’s so I will share an internal project. Nifty Marketing was going well but I kept having this feeling that we needed to niche into a specific industry for further growth.
We chose legal and created NiftyLaw.com where we blog, speak, and strictly work with legal clients. The growth has been outstanding. Determining your audience is the hardest part of marketing. When you get that part right things start falling into place.
Which one book/blog post would you recommend every Marketer should read?
For those thinking of starting an internet marketing business read this post on how I started mine. Mainly because I write about all the things I failed at and had to figure out the hard way and link out to TON’s of great books that can help you on your journey.
What advice would you share with other Marketer's who want to become more productive?
If you want to improve something, measure it. I think the free version of RescueTime can help you with that.
If there's one Marketing Guru you'd recommend who and why.
Rand Fishkin – He has successfully built an audience more loyal than most you will see. He also leads with transparency, which I think is the only way to be an “expert” these days. You have to be willing to share everything…for free. I have a lot of respect for what he has built and for his story.