Neil Patel is practically a household name in marketing. If you’re a marketer, chances are that you’ve either come across his incredibly helpful articles and webinars, or thought of using one of the three tools he’s created: KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg, and Hello Bar.
Here’s the kicker. Neil is barely 30 years old, and already he is an accomplished marketer, entrepreneur, and influencer.
To be sure, he’s come a long way since his first job. There, he spent most of his working hours “picking up trash, emptying trash cans, cleaning restrooms and sweeping up vomit.”
How exactly did he manage to make the leap to the top of the world? A lot of his success can be attributed to his strong belief in helping others.
We talked to Neil to find out more about what he has learned building and advising startups and corporations alike over the last decade. We hope that you’ll learn as much as we have from this interview!
Becoming an influencer
These days, there are plenty of so-called influencers roaming the web trying to get their voices heard, but nine out of 10 of them have little substance and even less to offer.
Most resort to repackaging the advice of others, and end up adding to the noise instead of becoming the signal.
When Neil was starting out, he didn’t aspire to become an influencer. Instead, he worked day and night to find solutions to the problems that he and his colleagues were facing.
In the process, he discovered many answers to the problems that others were facing as well, and was more than happy to share them:
I got heavily invested in the content marketing space when I discovered hang-ups that were holding back my business. I solved those hang-ups by being innovative, and now my goal is to share those secrets with others.
By focusing less on becoming rich and famous, and more on helping others, he began to carve a name out for himself.
It might seem like common sense, but few actually practice it, because they’re fixated on the wrong things:
[Tweet “How to be successful: “Focus less on the end goal of riches and more on helping others””]
If you are a newcomer, make sure you are providing value whenever you undertake a project. Often times people ask me how they can become rich and successful – I tell them to focus less on the end goal of riches and more on helping others. It really goes a long way!
When it comes to marketing, the biggest mistake that Neil sees companies making is the lack of organization. Having an organizational framework and using tools to aid in content marketing processes, he says, is absolutely vital:
I think a lot of people try to do a hack job and don’t really take time tracking results. And when you aren’t organized you won’t be able to consistently create and publish content, which is a key part to content marketing success.
To be sure, it’s not entirely their fault. The sheer volume of content flooding the Internet today means that it is getting harder and harder for voices to be heard:
In the same vein, marketers are finding it tougher to do their job well each day, having to juggle a plethora of platforms to get the word out.
To keep tabs on everything that’s going on, Neil uses Google Docs – “it’s simple, easy and rarely do mishaps occur.” Here are the other tools he uses to get a handle on the everyday madness that is marketing:
Trello and Basecamp are just a few that I’ve seen work tremendously well in organizations. Storing files and video content on Dropbox and using management tools to organize and plan out initiatives is a great way to really push the needle for most marketing efforts. I also use Evernote as my idea board.
No money? Focus on value
Such tools are typically affordable for the venture-backed startup who has funding in the bank. But what if your company is – like Piktochart at the start – entirely bootstrapped from the get-go?
For brands looking to make a name for themselves on a razor-thin marketing budget, Neil suggests focusing on your core competencies:
Don’t try to do too much at once. If you are an expert in email marketing then focus on solutions that will help consumers and people in your niche market out. Don’t spread yourself too thin because at the end of the day you’ll be left hanging when your budget runs dry.
This might seem counter-intuitive, especially at the beginning when you’re willing to use any means necessary to get a willing pair of eyes. But by simply helping others, according to Neil, you’ll be able to ward off the competition:
[Tweet “To stand out, focus on telling the customer what you do and help them out more than the competition”]
Whatever your budget may be, focus on telling the customer what you do and help them out more than the competition. This will help you stand out.
Standing out in visual marketing
Many brands are quickly learning that in order to stand out in their content marketing, they need to go visual. And indeed, many are doing just that.
But with so many graphics and visuals flooding the market, how can one distinguish itself from the hordes? Again, Neil goes back to the basics, reaffirming that it is essential to be as helpful as possible.
To him, infographics in particular are a great medium to do just that:
You really have to create content that educates and informs your audience. There are a number of ways to do this – one easy way is to create infographics. Using valuable data to create a visual story can go a long way.
Video content is also on the rise, particularly those that are “captivating and provide actionable insights.”
Neil did a number of videos a while back with Quick Sprout University, and “achieved great results – more importantly I provided value, and that goes a long way.” So much so that he says that he will be investing a lot more time into this trend in the near future:
Right now I have been working full time on creating great webinars – and will continue to do so. I am always looking for the next big thing. Chances are if it’s a new trend I am on it 😉
What will trend in 2016
Looking forward to 2016, Neil thinks that video marketing will continue to flourish:
While infographics have been doing great over the past couple years, I think video will soon overtake it as a medium to convey information for content marketers. Be on the lookout for new visual trends involving video in 2016.
According to HighQ, 93 percent of marketers have used video for online marketing. No doubt, apps such as Vine, Periscope, and Meerkat will start becoming staples in the content marketer’s toolbox very soon.
Have any other questions for Neil? Post them in the comments below!