Building an Online Marketing Company
The latest thoughts on my journey to becoming a world class online marketer
Building an Online Marketing Agency
The latest thoughts on my journey to becoming a world class online marketer
This is my personal hello world post.
“Hello World” is a famous term in programming and ususally the title of the default blog post on wordpress pages.
In my case, the “hello world” post is supposed to describe my journey from starting my first business to becoming a digital marketing expert and founder of a marketing company.
It was a long way since graduating in a finance related topic from a German business school in October 2014. If you like and agree to what I write about my experiences, or even if you think it’s complete nonsense – it would be an honor to hear that someone actually read this :).
What makes a job great? A question that I spend quite a lot of time with. There are countless opportunities in digital marketing and almost every business needs professionals in the field, whether it’s a 360 degree online strategie or the growth of social media pages. Having the chance to work in companies small or big, in any industry, and also not being bound by country borders (e.g. working remote), the question what kind of job I want was quite important and not easy to answer.
I believe the perfect job for a young person in digital marketing is a job with a lot responsibility (like managing prestigeous clients, being responsible to grow online channels) and a huge learning curve (if the skill growth isn’t recognizable, your’e too slow). Salary is also important, but should never be the driving force in choosing an employer or a job. This is especially important if the decision to make is between startup and corporate. Big companies will always pay more, but the learning curve in startups is usually way better.
I am working for Mobilehead holding GmbH since November 2017. Mobilehead is a HRTech startup that builds and operates modern job matching platforms. Mobilehead operates already 5 platforms accross sophisticated industries. My job is to bring new platforms to market, to grow existing platforms and to take the lead in many marketing related projects. At Mobilehead, we focus on channels that are strong in HR, so LinkedIn and the German version Xing are very important in Marketing, but also Google AdWords and Email Marketing. We work with intercom for marketing automation. As Head of Marketing, I manage all of these channels, some with our dev and biz dev team, and some alone. I work with the co founders on a daily basis. Working for Mobilehead is awesome, I learn fast and the whole environment is perfect.
Am I ready to grow and scale a business that will meet all the criteria I would have for a company I would want to work for? Can I build an environment that everybody loves, and that is safe?
It’s quite a challenge. So far, I am a happy employee and don’t do freelance projects on the side at all. Over the next years, the freelancing will become a routine and later transform into a company that offers full stack online marketing solutions to small and medium sized business. Full stack means that I want to offer the full range of online marketing services, including web development.
My dream is to work together with the people I meet along the way.
I am a millenial and I think most of my vision of a perfect work environment matches with what all the Millenials want: A job in a modern office, a nice team, impactful work, responsibility, guidance, and all of the other stuff that todays young people wish for.
It’s a lot to ask for and I hear a lot of grown up people (40+) saying that life doens’t always give you what you want. I think this is true. Just wanting something isn’t enough, no.
But, the opportunities are bigger than ever before, people work with computers, are not bound by borders or language. Companies need ambitious people that grew up with all of this new stuff called internet, that many millenials call life.
One special occurance of millenial life expectations is about remote work. The dream of many millenials is to be not bound by location at work (and of many to build their own digital business). In his book “The four hour workweek”, Tim Ferriss describes this as “lifestyle design,” and those who live it the “new rich”. I think it is totally understandable that this lifestyle is desirable and companies need to realize that many of the top talents demand flexible working hours and remote work options today.
This counts especially for developers. So, as a company, if I want to find and keep really good employees who work in a digital field, there is a tough choice to make in this matter, and having control and keeping talent usually don’t go together very well.
This actually took the whole year of 2017. While reading all these books, I marked up, reread, drew mindmaps – again and again. There were weeks when I was thinking about the future every day. The big questions were always “why” I want to be an Entrepreneur, “how” I want to do build a company and “what” exactly the product will be. It was slowly getting clear that I would start a marketing company in my early 30s, so my plans were mainly focused on the next 5 years. After months of iteration I felt the pressure of finding my path was gone. Puh.
The best part about it: I spend so much time with this question, that I am way ahead of the actual execution, and especially stoked to look into the future.
I was super hyped in the last weeks before starting my new job in February 2017.
That hype resulted in me challenging myself to read 24 books over the year. I did this because I believed (today I know) that reading as many books as possible would be almost as good as having personal mentors. I mainly chose books about self development, startups, finance, but also about Humankind. In April 2017 I read the biographies of Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos.
I was so hooked with all the knowledge that was passed on by inspiring personalities like Eric Ries, Tony Robbins, or Robert Cialdini, that it was easy to finish those 24 books.
For 2018, my goal is to read 12 books. The whole reading was worth it, but looking back it felt like it consumed maybe just a bit too much time. But for growing skills, reading that much was priceless.
my reading list http://www.markuskuempel.de/reading-list/
In 2017 in worked for the FinTech startup myPension. myPension makes the most modern retirement insurance in Germany and the product is not only modern, but also has the lowest reduction in yield rate, combined with a performant stock market portfolio.
With a notoriously difficult b2c market, the companies with deep pockets and marketing budgets had a clear advantage. We competed with the biggest German banks, with Robo Advisors, with other insurance startups, and with many many self employed financial consultants. The market was just a huge shark tank, and we were the newcomers.
At myPension, we tried out any possible online sales channel. To name some: Affiliate, SEO, SEA, Social Media, Online PR, Content Marketing. As the CMO of myPension, I was in charge of all these topics.
Getting your first requests by headhunters in LinkedIn feels good. Getting your head hunted and making a huge step in your career, feels great.
In November 2016, I just finisehd the trial period in the agency where I was working as a project manager, a headhunter called me and asked if I’m interested in a CMO position for a FinTech Startup in Frankfurt.
The company was well funded and the founders had an impressive background, one being the ex CMO of one of Germanys big banks, and one being a former Goldman Sachs investment banker. Apart from the idea of building a digital life insurance product being a very questionable online marketing case, this was a huge chance for me and I was no doubt interested.
I prepared for many days before the first interview, I developed a full online strategy for the company and went to the interview with a ton of ideas and knowledge about the market. I eventually got the job and by February 2017, I was CMO of one of the hottest InsurTech startups in Germany.
While receiving a request by that headhunter was a lot of luck, being well prepared is not. There’s a saying of Richard Branson which i love: “Chance favors the prepared mind. The more you practice, the luckier you become.” Try it out 😉
Working for a Performance Marketing Agency was a winner. During my 9 months in the agency, my learning curve was off the charts.
The reason was that I was underqualified for the projects my boss was making me responsible for. I was in charge of growing a new online shop and coordinating a team of up to 5 people from day one. As a junior, this was quite a big thing.
I suffered from a lot of anxiety in the first months, because I was scared that i would screw up. I worked many extra hours in that time and spend a lot of free time on improving my knowledge. In the end, everything turned out very good, the project was an ongoing success and I got a good promotion after 6 months.
Not only did I learn that by putting energy and passion into something, the chance to succeed can rise from “unlikely” to “definite”. I also started becoming really good in online marketing.
During the time as a co founder I planned and executed a lot of online marketing stuff. Out office was located in a big accelerator, so there were many people with online marketing experise.
I learned many basics during that time, like setting up Google search ads. I was hooked by online marketing and thought about the best way to become a professional in the shortest possible time.
I was hired as a junior online marketing manager in a fast growing digital marketing agency with focus on SEO. My salary was quite low and I was at the lower end of the food chain. But even though I stayed only for 9 months, my time at www.klickkonzept.de was a 9 months extensive training in all available online marketing channels.
The highlight: A 5 months Digital Marketing and Leadership program with Google. And after winning a internal competition, I was send to Dublin to visit the headquarters of Google.
For me, learning digital marketing in a good agency is simply the best way to become an expert in 9 to 24 months.
After spending 12 month in Cologne trying to build a profitable business, I came back to Frankfurt in February 2016. Those 12 months was the best that could have happened.
I developed drive, I learned a lot about starting and managing a business, and I found my passion in Online Marketing.
I can only encourage people with a passion in digital marketing or development to build something during or after university. In my case, I did it after my bachelor and it completely changed my path and the way I see live and opportunities.
Co-chat is a Slack group for entrepreneurs and people who work in startups.
Slack is a team communication tool which is mainly used by small businesses to improve team communication. The basic version is enough for a small team to use for at least a year and can even then still be used for free. The paid plan is something around 10$ per user.
Many smart people used the tool to build groups for various target groups. For example, apart from co-chat, there are a couple other slack communities for founders. If a Slack group is used by many people for sharing knowledge and experience and sell products or services, such a group can be quite valuable.
Today i see many of them and having a VIP Slack group became quite a business model for small scale Entrepreneurs. I think this way of using a tool to make money and build something useful is quite awesome.
Very valuable side effect of building co-chat.de: I learned coding in HTML and CSS (also by simultaneously doing courses on https://www.codecademy.com/).
Travelfire started slowly in summer 2015 and is a very special project to me, because it represents my passion in traveling, and because it made me proud to be able to build it.
Travelfire.io is a platform for travel videos from all over the world. Within 3 clicks, the page will present you the best travel videos for any destination (country) in the world.
My co founder lives in Salt Lake City, US. We used to live next to each other as kdis. With a front end developer as a co founder, it felt like our possibilities to create something very cool were endless.
After over one year, we didn’t really make money with Travelfire, and the project became more and more a sidekick. I’m still thinking about going all in with it, but i doubt that the business case is strong enough.
I co founded MITADU in February 2015. MITADU was a digital real estate broker. We bootstrapped, which means didn’t receive any external funding, and my position as CMO included any online marketing activity.
We were two founders and we didn’t have any real startup experience, but managed to get a 9 months scholarship in one of the big German accelerators “Startplatz” in Cologne. The scholarship included a free desk, free workshops, and access to the accelerators network.
Some of the most important people i know are people I met during that time. We stopped the project after 10 months due to many reasons, a big one being too much competition. Apart from that, we made a hundred mistakes, but I’m glad we did.
After finishing my bachelor, I left Germany for three months. The trip to Asia included 3 weeks in China, 7 weeks in Thailand and 3 weeks on bali.
I met many interesting people on that trip. People, for example, with little online businesses, big enough to make a living in Southeast Asia. After reading a couple startup books during that time, and meeting these people, I decided to not go back to my old financial consulting job and become an Entrepreneur instead.
What a fucking good decision.
I was born in 1989 and grew up with Nintendo 64, Dota and World of Warcraft.
My advanced courses in high school were english and business. Looking back, this was definitely a good choice.
I went to an average business school and studied business administration with a focus on financial services. I like that I learned alot about financial products like insurancces.
I was working in financial consulting during my bachelor and received a pretty good job offer at AXA, one of the biggest insurance companies in the world. But I didn’t feel passionate about it, so I made a 3 month trip to find out what I really want to do.