[quote style=”boxed”]Read Purple Cow by Seth Godin. Then, read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. After that, read Think and Grow Rich 5 more times. Then, read The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes. 🙂 Those books will help you create remarkable products and/or services and a system for making them happen.[/quote]
Dave Conklin started his Internet marketing career as a real estate agent in Lancaster, PA when he decided that cold calling, well, sucked (for lack of a better term). He built a website called GetMyHomesValue.com, which offered a free home evaluation to those interested in selling their homes. The site grew to more than 10,000 customers nationwide.
In 2008, this bootstrapped idea ended up being named the 386th fastest growing company in the U.S. It made the list again in 2009. In 2007, with the real estate market tumbling out of control, Dave and his business partners launched an Internet marketing firm, which is still growing today. Conklin’s greatest innovation, RankPop.com, is a company which is now on a faster growth path than anything he has been involved in before. RankPop offers pay for performance search engine optimization services to large and small companies with no risk.
What are you working on right now?
We are growing the heck out of RankPop.com, speaking at conferences and trying to get to Haiti as much as possible due to the need there.
Where did the idea for RankPop.com come from?
I was sick of telling companies that they had to sign a long-term contract and pay upfront for my SEO services. So, we spent a year creating software to manage a team of people to do organic search marketing effectively and efficiently. We tested it on about 30 sites and it worked. Since then, we have never looked back.
I love going to bed at night knowing that our clients are truly fans.
What does your typical day look like?
I get up around 8:00 AM, head to the office and crank on the music. I spend most of my work day reading private industry forums so I can be on top of Google algorithm changes, create systems to deal with those changes and focus on the marketing of RankPop via email marketing, PPC and SEO.
We’re growing fast right now, so I’m always trying to meet the right people who can help us continue to grow.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I love that question. Some say I do things bass ackwards. I put myself in the position of a business person and think about a problem he has and how horrible the current solutions are. Then we push ourselves to figure out how to create a quality product that will eliminate the problem. Then, before we’re even ready to, we sell it. We get real buyers to buy in. We then figure out how to develop software and efficiencies based on the challenges we face. Market research for non-existing products and services is bogus because people don’t know if they’ll love something until they actually experience it.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The whole Apple experience thing. We’re really lucky that in our lifetime we get to see so many people desire to be better because of what Apple has done. They keep pushing the envelope and it’s making other people motivated to not accept anything less than remarkable.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I was a dishwasher at an old folks home. It humbled me every time I had to return a pair of dentures to its owner.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Not to get preachy, but I would have tried harder to create an environment in my first company that encouraged and allowed for personal growth spiritually and otherwise. It was unintentional, but we were so money-focused that we drove people hard and didn’t provide for their mental and spiritual health. I think about that all the time and vowed to use that experience as a catalyst to get it right with RankPop.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Read Purple Cow by Seth Godin. Then, read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. After that, read Think and Grow Rich 5 more times. Then, read The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes. 🙂 Those books will help you create remarkable products and/or services and a system for making them happen.
What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur and how did you overcome it?
The real estate market really hurt my fist company, GetMyHomesValue.com. We saw it coming and rather than crawling in a hole, we created a new business that used the knowledge we had from doing it for ourselves.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
There’s something called retargeting in the Internet marketing world and it’s super effective. Comcast and other large online providers could very easily bring this to television.
Imagine, you go online and visit a company that you’re not interested in doing business with just yet. In the weeks after you visit that site, you start seeing commercials all the time on television for the same company. This could all be done through cookies and a partnership between Google, Comcast and others. You could even run specific advertisements on on-demand. You could do it in reverse, as well. People that pause commercials on television or rewind a commercial and watch it again could be noted as having interest in a product. Powerful stuff and a bit creepy, too.
Another would be 100% online real estate. Build a site that has a profile of every address in the country. Allow the owner of the house to list it as being for sale. They could upload descriptions, videos and photos. When someone wants to view the home, he/she could request to do it online. On the site, you could have mortgage pre-qualification before someone could look at a home. The whole process could take place online the way it does with travel agencies. This could so easily become the new MLS system. Who needs a realtor for the MLS any more?
If you could change on thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I’d gather the wealthiest people in the world together in a room and share with them an interactive presentation about what’s happening in third world countries. I’d ask those individuals to help fund building schools. The main problem in those countries is a lack of education. Then, I’d hire the best education experts to grow leaders in those countries.
Tell us a secret.
I just ate an entire small bag of salt and pepper potato chips. The whole bag.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
SEMRush.com has got to be the best tool for learning about your website and your competitors’ websites. I use it literally 20 times a day.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Purple Cow by Seth Godin and Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes. People are so lazy today and most don’t want to create something awesome, which Purple Cow talks about. But many of the people that create awesome stuff have no idea how to actually make it profitable. That’s what Ultimate Sales Machine teaches readers.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
- @conanobrien: Because Conan O’Brien is funny.
- @webireland: Incredible and actionable Internet marketing advice.
- @motivational: An awesome stream of thoughts from people smarter than us.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
One of my team members walked up to my business partner at work and shot him with a fully automatic Nerf gun. His reaction was classic. Nerf militia is commonplace at RankPop.
Who is your hero?
My dad and mom. They are the kindest people and have given me the courage to go out and not be afraid to make whatever I want of my life. I think I do an OK job as a husband and father much because of their examples.
What career advice would you give to a high school student?
Stop being average. So many kids coming out of school are afraid to challenge the status quo. It drives me nuts. I really get scared sometimes that our kids are being taught not to go above and beyond. There’s going to be a huge problem in our world if kids stop trying to be remarkable.
Parents have become so dependent on the government and their employers for their futures that they unintentionally taught their kids to be “normal” and stick their hand out. We’ve stopped inventing.
So, keep inventing. Keep challenging. Oh, and the videogame kids you think are totally bizarre and anti-social who you say have “ADD” or “ADHD” are the future innovators of this world. But we have to give them some confidence or they’re going to think they don’t measure up or aren’t “normal.”
What’s your biggest personal goal?
I fail at it every day, but I try my best to live my life as Jesus wants me to. My spiritual walk is one of the most important things in my life and also the most challenging. Christians get labeled as hypocrites all the time and many say they don’t want to have anything to do with Christianity because the church is full of them. I like to think that the entire reason that Jesus died for us is because we’re all hypocrites. We all screw up. But that’s the reason Christ died. And, of course I have a huge issue with judgmental Christians, so I try my best to never judge anyone.
RankPop Website: http://www.RankPop.com
Dave Conklin’s Website: http://www.daveconklin.org
RankPop on Twitter: @rankpop
Dave Conklin on Twitter: @daveconklin
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.