Brian Robben is the CEO of the international digital marketing agency Robben Media who helps businesses grow via SEO, paid advertising, and website conversions. He is a three-time Amazon bestselling author.
Where did the idea for Robben Media come from?
I’m a huge believer in the personal brand. It helped Trump win the White House. It inspires confidence when your name is on your business. And knowing my reputation is on the line with how well this company does brings out a healthy pressure for me to perform at my best. It’s for these reasons I named my digital marketing agency Robben Media, after my last name.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day involves a bunch of client emails, sales calls, writing content, responding to press inquiries, and managing projects and employees. The most high-value work I do is definitely making clients happy with excellent service, and driving new business. By ranking high for keywords that describe our services, we’re fortunate to generate elite inbound marketing. This is the engine that keeps on producing month after month.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Going on walks, with or without my dog, inspires my best thoughts. There’s something about being in motion that helps my brain discover unique marketing ideas, new business opportunities, and investment angles I haven’t considered before. No matter if the walk is 10 minutes or an hour, I always get my best ideas. Then when I get back home, I immediately write down the idea, initial steps I could take to execute, and the people or assets I’ll need to bring it to fruition. If I believe it’s worth pursuing, then I’ll take the next step of executing this idea to see it come to life. This is a crucial step because an idea, even action steps to execute one, is pointless without putting in the work.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Artificial intelligence is very promising if it plays out well. The ability to get rid of menial, repeatable tasks by having an AI do it for me sounds amazing. For example, in my marketing business, I could teach an AI to understand the brand of a client and then post a diverse range of content on their social media accounts, without any manual input. That’d save tens of hours a week. Then I could use it for advertising copy, email campaigns, emails in general. The opportunities are endless!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I don’t eat breakfast and I don’t drink coffee. This habit allows me to power through my morning unabated. There’s no time wasted thinking about, cooking, eating, cleaning, and digesting food. It’s not even a thought that crosses my mind now. I go right into work mode and there’s no stopping until later in the afternoon when I have my first meal. I’m convinced the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal” is just good marketing accepted by American society.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I’d tell my younger self to look at stories of other entrepreneurs for inspiration only, but don’t for a second compare my 16-year-old self, for example, to an entrepreneur who is 61 years old. I used to compare and get frustrated I wasn’t at their level. Eventually I realized my expectations were ridiculous. Of course someone who has put four times the years into their business is going to be more successful than the few years or no years I’ve put into mine. The best mental thought pattern is intense work ethic in the short-term combined with supreme long-term patience.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You don’t need a mentor to be successful. Back in the 1920s, for example, I guarantee you a mentor had a significant role to play for young, ambitious individuals looking to advance in their careers. But nowadays, the entire internet can be your mentor if you know where to look. On Twitter, some of the brightest minds in any industry will freely share their information. You can get books on Amazon for $20 that describe an in-depth memoir of giants in their fields. There are free podcasts, blogs, vlogs, and email newsletters everywhere. Having a mentor can help, but don’t feel like you need one to be at your best.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Each day I set aside time in the morning and night to respond to press inquiries by email. I do this for three reasons. One, it helps me get thoughts out of my head and onto my computer which improves my writing skills. Two, I often need to do research to best respond to these questions from journalists and reporters. This research is reused in my own business and shared with clients as we work on their digital campaigns. And last, the press mentions drive extra backlinks and exposure. With this comes more organic traffic, leads, and sales.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Doing what we said we’re going to do has never failed. When we run a SEO campaign, the proposal and contract lays out our action steps and when they will take place. By calling the shots and then following through, our customers feel more peace at mind giving us their business. We do keyword research in Week 1, they see the keyword research in Week 1. We promise 5-10 backlinks per month, and at the end of the month we show them all the backlinks secured. By following through, and especially when we overdeliver, customers keep their business with us indefinitely. It’s hard to believe that some companies don’t keep their end of the bargain with customers.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One failure was going into a 50/50 partnership with a partner who had a 9 to 5 job, hoping it would get better over time. We started a digital marketing agency and I was too optimistic about his time freeing up to spend on our business. When I continued to bring in most of the sales and do most of the work, the friction continued to get stronger. I overcame it by continuing to speak up about my expectations of the partnership. One day, after he clearly knew how I felt, he wrote a 5,000 word email on a Monday explaining why he was quitting. I bought out his shares and started the digital marketing agency, Robben Media, that I own today. The lesson is to trust but verify their actions before you get into bed with a business partner.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A yoga studio that served wine during the class would be a hit. There are wineries and wine tasting venues, but they don’t include yoga. And the yoga studios would be more fun with wine during the activity. I think it could work because it’d bring in the die hard yogis, as well as the recreational crowd who loves wine and wants a good exercise.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Recently I spent $100 on a flight to Marco Island, Florida. This is the best money I’ve spent in awhile. Not only was the flight cheaper due to booking during Covid-19, it’s quality time spent with my immediate family. As an entrepreneur, this gives me a short break to relax before refocusing my efforts on growing the business. It also happens to be Father’s Day, so celebrating my dad in the beautiful Gulf of Mexico is hard to beat. I believe you should work every second, and then give yourself a quality week off every three to six months.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Trello is unbelievable for my agency. We use it for project management on every PPC, SEO, and web design project. Honestly I don’t know how we’d run the business as efficiently without it. For our web developers, we break Trello boards into a series of cards based on the development stage. And our marketers break their boards down by clients. We’re able to set due dates, leave comments, and add attachments. It has everything we need to scale.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand is a book every entrepreneur must read. I love this book because of its principles. It tells the story of business titans who are stopped in their tracks by the red tape of government involvement. After reading, you’ll feel inspired to stand up for what you believe in, and to give your all to your mission—no matter what it costs you.
What is your favorite quote?
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
- Exercise is critical to be functioning at a human’s highest mental capacity.
- Knowledge is power, and knowledge comes from books. To become powerful, read more books.
- You can run a business on a very low budget when you’re resourceful, adaptive, and innovative.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.